hello I am azeem azhar. I call on Exponential View to help us understand how our societies and political economy will change under the force of rapidly accelerating technologies.
In today’s edition:
How investors should think about balancing different climate mitigation timelines,
What Alibaba’s Singles’ Day Performance Might Indicate About Chinese Spending,
New Lab-Grown Meat Company Gets US FDA Seal of Approval
Investment in the carbon and emissions technology verticals is expected to top the 2021 record of $13.6 billion across 656 deals.
In an opinion piece on The Economist this week, veteran climate technology investor Vinod Khosla argues that we should double investment activity in technologies that deliver Net Zero by 2050. An emphasis on current technologies (and a 2030 timeline) could hinder realistic achievement of the long-term goal.
Vinod is correct that there is a range of technologies (such as nuclear fusion, nanomaterials, biomanufacturing) that offer truly long-term solutions for sustainable prosperity. We should invest in them. But investing in current technologies (solar, batteries, HVDC) also makes sense unless we are faced with a shortage of capital, talent and attention.
📊 In the latest Graph of the Week #99, we delve into other aspects of climate reality through data. read it here.
There has been an explosion of services in the field of generative AI. These systems, which typically use large language models at their core, are expensive to build and train, but much cheaper to run.
I want to historicize this trend. Back in July 2020, I wrote that large language models (I refer to them as transformers back then, like GPT-3) are “capable of synthesizing information and presenting it in a nearly usable form”. They represented an improvement over previous knowledge technologies, because they presented synthesized information rather than disparate search queries.
And in my simplistic framework, transformers were all about synthesis. I deliberately avoided defining what I meant by synthesis, but 30 months later, it’s time to refine that model.
every week we key metrics tracking that tell us a little about our shared climate future.
our member, Marshall Kirkpatricktakes the time to curate a view of our current weather in this segment each week, and you can read Marshall’s view below.
One thing to know this week about our climate future: COP27 was a mixed bag. Scheduled to end on Friday, it was supposed to be about implementation. Putting money where the mouths are will be key to breaking the mistrust between the global North and South; to that end, the EU took a historic turn when it agreed on early Friday the creation of a global fund to pay for the loss and damage caused far more by rich countries than by the rest of the world. But the United States refuses to support anything that acknowledges the harm done, because patriarchy means never having to say sorry. “The United States is always 10 years behind the current reality,” said Harjeet Singh of the International Climate Action Network. In the meantime, commitments to reduce methane, a short-term climate killer, were signed by all except China and India, the top emitters of methane, and Russia. It’s hard to avoid cynicism about nation-state negotiations, but the Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus reminds the world has ready-made solutions and should be included more. Channeling Mr. Rogers (“look for the helpers”for better or worse) global climate leader Dr. Katharine Hayhoe says what she is learning from COP27 it is
“all the people. Thousands of people, some of the smartest and most dedicated people in the world… most of them are here because they really want to make a difference, and that really gives me hope.”
Alibaba sees flat sales performance during China’s main annual shopping event, Singles’ Day. [link] Compare to just two years ago when the giant saw sales increase more than 90% year-on-year during the holidays. [link]
Masayoshi Sonowes $4.7 billion to SoftBank. [link]
Permanent DST would save $1.2 billion in car accidents in the US alone. [link]
By 2035, electric truck charging stops will require 19 MW, enough to power a small city. [link]
Indian space company Skyroot launched the country’s first private rocket into space. Indian space startups have raised $108.52 million in 2022 alone. [link]
🥩To Lab-grown meat startup gets FDA approvalbut the company still needs to figure out how to make enough of it.
🎓 Myopia is found to be related to five genetic variants… And to be more common among college students.
🚩Intel introduced FakeCatcher, a real-time deepfake detector with (supposedly) 96% effectiveness. (Deepfakes will be universal, so a 4% failure rate is problematic.)
As we approach the 400th (!!) issue of the newsletter, we are experimenting with some new formats. Tell us what you think!
What You’re Doing: EV Reader’s Notes
Claudia I praise you involved in creating the world’s first permanent Citizens’ Climate Assembly in the Brussels-Capital Region. Congratulations!
Vessela Ignatova wrote an article about how business strategy and operations can drive the OKR process.
Diana Wu David wrote a fantastic story imagining the possibilities of the future of work.
Aisling Carlson and her team at Diversity VC have published a report exploring the role of DEI mandates at the LP and GP leveland its impact on the allocation of capital to the founders.
Gianni Giacomelli published the Futures 2030 reportwhich features over 45 what-if stories illustrating how you can design new systems with Augmented Collective Intelligence.
To share your projects and updates, fill in your details here. Due to space limitations, we prioritize updates from paying members and startups I’ve invested in. (You can become first by subscribing, if you haven’t already, and last by introducing me through a trusted contact.)