Elon is backing an AI venture, called Neuralink, to begin fusing man and machine. Because of course he is.
The company specializes in brain implants that could improve memory, or allow you to directly interface with smart devices (AKA command your Alexa to “stop” with your mind, instead of screaming it across the room and disturbing your co-workers).
Musk has been playing coy about his so-called brain-computer interface for the past 6 months, via casual tweets like, “Making progress on neural lace” (no biggie). But, according to the WSJ (paywall), members of Neuralink’s founding team have confirmed that the company does exist, and Musk is a part of it.
They’ll probably start small… by treating major brain disorders
No official statement yet, but similarly to SpaceX and Tesla, Neuralink will likely need to prove their salt to government regulators before expanding into other projects.
Electrode implants have already been used to successfully reduce the effects of diseases like Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and depression, so neurological diseases seem like a reasonable place to start gaining traction, as well as a massive market opportunity.
But ultimately, it’s about the intelligence arms race
Solving major diseases is the short play, but the long game? To keep us from being turned into robot slaves.
The Muskmaster’s notoriously paranoid about an impending “AI apocalypse” and has said that one of the biggest drivers of his Mars mission is “so that we’ll have a bolt-hole if A.I. goes rogue and turns on humanity.” Which means getting us as far ahead of those intelligent machines as possible.
This includes a proposed “direct cortical interface” — basically “snap-on AI” — that would allow us to produce information as fast as we consume it. Or as Elon puts it (in the most Elon way possible), speed up the painfully inefficient process of “your two thumbs just tapping away” on your smartphone.
If you don’t hit the links very often, here’s a quick reminder about the sport: You use sticks to hit balls into holes. Oh and pastels. Gotta wear pastels.
The balls are dimpled, typically white, and perfect example of what happens when big companies dominate a market and use bully tactics to keep out the competition.
Alright, alright, get to the point
Last year, Costco released some quality, affordable golf balls under their prolific Kirkland Signature brand and, after receiving favorable reviews, they immediately sold out.
Soon after that, Acushnet (Titleist’s parent company, AKA the incumbent), wrote a “threatening letter” claiming Costco infringed on 11 patents and were falsely advertising the performance.
Then, Costco responded with their own federal complaint last week asking to refute the claims and clear themselves of any wrongdoing.
Let’s call this legal peacocking
Acushnet is notorious for accusing pretty much every hot new golf ball startup of patent infringement, forcing them to back down to avoid business-killing legal fees.
It’s genius when you think about it. Raise the price of your proven products, wait for newer, cheaper alternatives to claim similar performance, and take ‘em to court where you know they won’t survive.
That is until you go head to head with one of the largest retailers in the world, with deeper pockets than the Mariana Trench and an addiction to cheap, reliable merchandise.
Rumor has it, Costco isn’t backing down from Acushnet’s threats and will release another round of balls next month.
Despite sellers assuring consumers that the translucent, stretchiness of seaweed in the videos is normal, wholesale seaweed prices have dropped by 50% in the wake of the rumors, costing companies millions of yuan.
One seaweed company, Ayibo Food, even reported receiving a blackmail call requesting 80,000 yuan (about $12k) under threat of releasing a “plastic seaweed” video with the company’s name on it.
And the seaweed industry isn’t the only one taking a hit
According to China’s top-viewed food articles, crayfish are also filled with parasites, cherries contain bird flu, and seedless grapes are grown with birth control medicine.
Earlier this month, The Honest Company replaced their founding CEO, Brian Lee, with longtime Clorox COO, Nick Vlahos, after a planned sale to Unilever fell through.
It wasn’t completely unexpected and fit well with Honest’s plans to move from away from strictly e-commerce, to a wholesale distributor of non-toxic household products.
Jessica Alba, the company’s co-founder and primary public persona, helped them reach $300m in sales last year with a valuation well north of $1B, and they’re often touted as one of the best celeb-founded startups over the past 5 years.
So the latest changes, while not rainbows and buttercups, feel more like growing pains, than an act of desperation.
And then there’s Goop…
Last week they mysteriously promoted founder Gwyneth Paltrow from Chief Creative Officer to CEO, with absolutely zero transparency into why, how, or what, after being chief-executive-less since August.
But at $90 a pop and with names like “Why Am I So Effing Tired,” “High School Genes,” and “Balls in the Air,” it’s easy to give this new push into miracle pills a big ol’ eye roll, half shrug, and soft utterance of “meh” under one’s breath.
Editor’s note: Thanks to everyone who helped us out yesterday with our deliverability experiment. We got waaaay more responses then we could deal with, but would still like to get to everyone. If you haven’t heard from us, expect a knee-slapper involving a ham sandwich crossing the road over the course of the next week.
When companies like Snapchat develop facial recognition software, they have a bank of faces to pull from, thanks to publicly available mugshots and surveillance footage. So if you’ve never committed a crime, you’re in the clear, right? Wrong. Turns out 80% of the FBI’s facial recognition network are non-criminals. So why do they have the pictures, and who’s allowed to use them?
Contrary to popular belief, a “zero inbox” isn’t the key to happiness. Economist Dan Ariely argues that, while cleaning out your inbox can be satisfying, ultimately it’s just “structured procrastination,” AKA another way of wasting time.
Gabe Rivera, the editor behind the site, Techmeme (Silicon Valley’s Drudge Report), has been shaping tech’s image for the past decade. And while it may be niche, people like Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai read it daily — which means it wields a fair amount of power over some very powerful people.
Kirsten Green is ranked #12 among the top 50 venture capitalists in the world, thanks to her investments in retail companies like Dollar Shave Club and Jet.com — despite having never worked at a venture capital firm prior to starting hers in 2012.
An opinion piece by author and programmer James Somer, on how an internet built on “engagement,” has made it a far less engaging place. And, the increasingly advanced tools used to measure what people like, have caused publishers to abandon their own judgement, in favor of the judgement of the masses.
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