How to save the world?
concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere is around 414.68 parts
per million (ppm) – there is consensus that, once the level reaches 450ppm it
will raise the global temperature above 2 degrees Celsius, triggering extreme
weather events and irreversible, catastrophic change. While some advocates of
change suggest that the target should be 2030, Mr. Gates believes that’s
unrealistic – carbon is too deeply woven into the fabric of everything we do –
and could provide a distraction to the more significant goal of zero emissions
When asked on
betting on a single breakthrough happening in the next decade that really was a
game changer, he says, “Well, part of the point of the book is that [we can’t
rely on a] single breakthrough, we need artificial meat, we need lithium… But
I would say, if you can get super-cheap green hydrogen, it sits in terms of the
industrial economy at the peak. So, if you pencil in ridiculously low-cost
hydrogen, then I can tell you how to make clean fertiliser and clean steel, and
even clean aviation fuel.” Lastly, he says that he is optimistic about the
world being net zero in terms of carbon emission by 2050.
AI in financial research
Morgan Stanley have developed a virtual assistant that helps people throughout
the organization plumb useful information from the 50,000 research reports the
investment bank generates every year. “Our research reports can be many, many pages
long,” said Eden Kidner, global head of research technology at Morgan Stanley.
“And now we’re getting to the ability to actually find specific charts and
paragraphs within the reports that answer questions.” The AskResearch bot is an
example of banks ramping up the use of AI in different parts of their business.
“What we are seeing
on the AI side, especially in natural language processing, is really amazing,”
said Brad Bailey, research director for capital markets at Celent. “One aspect
is the ability to get content from all types of structured and unstructured data
and leverage that in numerous ways is a competitive edge and a huge benefit to
client service.” The bot uses machine learning and natural language processing
to become better at answering questions over time, Kidner said. The bot can
retrieve earnings-per-share estimates for any company, or any of 50 other
fundamental metrics the bank tracks or forecasts. It understands abbreviations
like GDP (gross domestic product), so they don’t have to be spelled out, and
synonyms. It understands multiple ways of asking questions.
“Trying to enable
the bot to be able to find a specific paragraph, a chart or something that sits
deep within that research and distill it up — that’s where the high value of
this bot is,” Kidner said. “It’s also the biggest challenge to solve for.”
In the past, it typically took 10 minutes to go to the research portal and find
a piece of research, he said. With the bot, the task takes less than a minute.
Can Shopify beat Amazon at
Shopify isn’t doing
what Amazon does – it isn’t competing directly and it wouldn’t fit inside a
competition lawyer’s market definition. But it challenges Amazon at a very
basic point of leverage by doing something different, but relevant. This is
very often what competitive threats look like in technology. In markets with
strong network effects or winner-takes-most effects, it’s very hard to displace
a new incumbent directly, but pretty common to address an underlying customer
need in another way. So, Google doesn’t think about Bing nearly as much as it
thinks about Amazon and Facebook, and Amazon thinks about Shopify, because they
change what the businesses might be, and offer your customers a different way
to solve their problem.
You are as good as your team
The legend of Steve
Jobs is that he transformed our lives with the strength of his convictions. The
key to his greatness, the story goes, was his ability to bend the world to his
vision. The reality is that much of Apple’s success came from his team’s pushing
him to rethink his positions. If Jobs hadn’t surrounded himself with people who
knew how to change his mind, he might not have changed the world.
For years Jobs
insisted he would never make a phone. After his team finally persuaded him to
reconsider, he banned outside apps; it took another year to get him to reverse
that stance. Within nine months the App Store had a billion downloads, and a
decade later the iPhone had generated more than $1 trillion in revenue.
Jeff Bezos – the greatest
tech CEO ever?
What is clear,
though, is that any attempt to understand the relentlessness of the company
redirects to their founder, Jeff Bezos, who announced plans to step down as CEO
after leading the company for twenty-seven years. He is arguably the greatest
CEO in tech history, in large part because he created three massive businesses,
all of which generate enormous consumer surplus and enjoy impregnable moats:
Amazon.com, AWS, and the Amazon platform (this is a grab-all term for the
Amazon Marketplace and Fulfillment offerings; it is lumped in with Amazon.com
in the company’s reporting). These three businesses are the result of Bezos’
rare combination of strategic thinking, boldness, and drive, and the real world
manifestations of Amazon’s three most important tactics: leverage the Internet,
win with scale, and being your first best — but not only — customer.
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