Intelsense Capital Blog: Weekend Reading

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Researchers at MIT
have developed a new method for growing plant tissues in a lab — sort of like
how companies and researchers are approaching lab-grown meat. The process would
be able to produce wood and fibre in a lab environment, and researchers have already
demonstrated how it works in concept by growing simple structures using cells
harvested from zinnia leaves.

Forestry has much
more obvious negative environmental impacts. If the work of these researchers
can eventually be used to create a way to produce lab-grown wood for use in
construction and fabrication in a way that’s scalable and efficient, then
there’s tremendous potential in terms of reducing the impact on forestry
globally. Eventually, the team even theorizes you could coax the growth of
plant-based materials into specific target shapes, so you could also do some of
the manufacturing in the lab, by growing a wood table directly for instance.


When to follow a system and
when to go with your gut feel

Whether we are
talking about football, investing, or medicine, decision makers are often faced
with the question of whether to fully trust statistical models, go with their
gut, or try to come up with a hybrid approach. If you are making a large number
of decisions where the consequence of each individual decision is relatively
small, perhaps it makes sense to let automation decide — to implement a “pure
system”. The trouble arises when you are making a single important decision
with enormous stakes. Then it becomes very tempting to disregard the models and
go with your gut.

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Don’t waste your time on

Things that lure you
into wasting your time have to be really good at tricking you. An example that
will be familiar to a lot of people is arguing online. When someone contradicts
you, they’re in a sense attacking you. Sometimes pretty overtly. Your instinct
when attacked is to defend yourself. But like a lot of instincts, this one
wasn’t designed for the world we now live in. Counterintuitive as it feels,
it’s better most of the time not to defend yourself. Otherwise these people are
literally taking your life.

Arguing online is
only incidentally addictive. There are more dangerous things than that. As I’ve
written before, one byproduct of technical progress is that things we like tend
to become more addictive. Which means we will increasingly have to make a conscious
effort to avoid addictions to stand outside ourselves and ask “is this how
I want to be spending my time?”


The next wave of AI will be
based on language

The 2020s are going
to bring major advances in language-based AI tasks. GPT-3, a state-of-the-art
natural language processing tool developed by OpenAI, will soon be able to
produce short stories, songs, press releases, technical manuals, text in the
style of particular writers, and even computer code. Cloud-AI services will
enable the development of a new class of enterprise apps that are more creative
(or “generative” — the “G” in GPT) than anything we’ve seen before. They will
make the process of synthesizing words, intentions, and information in language
cheaper, which will make many business activities more efficient, stimulating
growth and innovation. In light of these coming changes, companies will not
only need to rethink IT resources, but also human resources.

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The art of doing nothing

The idea that “doing
nothing” is actually an event in and of itself. The idea that we no longer run
on a treadmill of activity from getting the kids ready for school, to brushing
our teeth, to conference calls, to picking up kids, fixing dinner, and bed-
only to start over again. The idea that our actions day to day become
influenced by our instincts and no longer by routines, shoulds, and musts.

Fighting that urge
to just do, that puritan work ethic instilled in all of us at an early age, is
just as much effort as going to the gym and doing the stair climber. Yet the
results of our restraint are well worth the hassle.

The kind of
relaxation we are looking for, and we all yearn for, does not exist on the side
of a volcano, in a rare flower, or on a desolate island far away. That kind of
relaxation exists within each of us and is ours for the taking if we’re willing
to put in the effort.

That kind of
relaxation. The sweetness of doing nothing and enjoying where we are in the
present moment is the greatest thanks we can give for the lives and blessings
we have.

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Abhishek Basumallick

Abhishek Basumallick

Abhishek Basumallick is the Head of the equity advisory for long term wealth creation.
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