The Climate Tech Summit and related activities are this week! Oh, and I’ll be in Asia.
1. WORK: Climate Summit is Tomorrow, Matchmaking, Asia trip.
2. EXPERIENCES: Rap Battles, Games, Stolen Scooter
3. CULTURE: Class Act, and some Documentaries
4. THOUGHTS: Jevons Paradox
Climate Tech Summit Update
100 speakers, 8,000+ registrants. It’s a big show starting tomorrow. And it’s free! (RSVP - Sept 26,27).
I will be interviewing Iceland’s Minister for Innovation, and moderate the panel about “Investing in the Global South”. There are also some great sessions on SMRs, energy storage, carbon removal and more.
As a side note, I’m listening to Elon Musk’s biography — quite a few fascinating episodes, especially during the early years of Tesla. His approach to cost-optimization is impressive. Don’t try Polytopia, though. I was hoping to get Elon to speak at our Summit about his “Master Plan” but it might not be for this year (unless one of you, dear readers, can help).
Climate Tech VC/Startup Matchmaking
I’m also running the second edition of our virtual matchmaking for investors and startup founders in climate tech (Sept 25-29, see here). Frankly, while in-person matchmaking events sometimes work (e.g. Hello Tomorrow’s Investor Day, or GCV’s speed meetings), I had not seen it work well online.
So I re-thought the concept, going from 1 day to 1 week, defaulting to 15 min meetings, and collecting and sharing lots of filterable info with participants. And it’s off to the races with already close to 1,500 meetings booked. One founder last year did 40 investor meetings in a week, more than in the previous 12 months. Others - including investors - have called this event “the best use of their time in the year”. It looks like we’re onto something!
It’s been a while, but I’ll be in Tokyo this week (Wed-Sat), then Taipei (Sun-Mon) and Singapore (Tue-Fri), with some climate tech activities planned.
Epic Rap Battles of History course
After watching every single song of this epic show, I got curious about the course that the ERB folks had created, and also felt like giving back. So they got my $99 and I learned about their creative process. And no, I haven’t written an epic rap battle, and might never do, but it’s another mind tool likely applicable to other things (maybe epic rap battles of startups?).
I rarely play, but bought Forests of Pangaia, a nature-themed board game created by a friend and former colleague at a video game company. His Kickstarter was very successful (400,000 EUR) and he basically did everything except the art, and pretty much burnt out in the process due to production and logistics. Yet, he managed to fulfill most of his obligations and delivered a beautiful and fun game which scored a solid 7.5 on BGG.
I also got the chance to play the Portugal-themed game Azul. (7.8 on BGG). After getting destroyed in the first game, I looked up some tactics online, which paid off immensely in subsequent games.
This led me to think: is it cheating to look up tactics? Or did I miss out of some of the pleasure by not figuring out tactics myself? Last, once you have an ‘algorithm’ for playing and simply ‘execute it’, is it still worth playing? Especially if your opponents use the same algorithm? Of course, psychology also plays a role, but on the base of pure logic, it’s almost as if the game is ‘played’ and should be simply fast-forwarded to see the score.
Bordeaux Customs Museum
A small museum highlighting the city’s role as the former largest port in France. Limited info on its position in the trade of slaves. Includes some odd goods seized, and “ambush” equipment for customs officers (the cane is also a measurement device).
Teamed up for an escape game, which proposed to time-travel to replace a letter Einstein sent to Roosevelt. Simple activities and logic, with an interesting final twist reminiscent of the time-travel show “Dark”. We performed adequately, and I learned how to pick the lock of a desk drawer.
I bought an electric moped and picked the Niu brand because of their long experience, and also because of the embedded GPS. When two days ago I did not find the scooter where I had parked it, the app helped me locate it, a short walk away. The police got involved and I already imagined a Starsky & Hutch style sting operation, like YouTube entertainment engineer Mark Rober did on occasion. But the thief simply abandoned it. The battery and trip report indicated that the scooter was not ridden, so it was probably simply rolled downhill until there. Nice job, Niu!
Class Act (Tapie)*** (Netflix)
Bernard Tapie is not well known outside France, but could be compared to Richard Branson, Arnold, or Trump (except Tapie did not come from money). He has been a fixture as an outspoken businessman — specialized in turnarounds, he was the former owner of Adidas, among other companies he bought, fixed, and sold, and famously the owner of the Marseille soccer team during its heydays. He also got involved in politics, and spent time in jail after he was convicted of bribing players in a soccer match. He passed away in 2021 and this docu-fiction version of his life is quite fascinating, despite inaccuracies noted by Tapie’s family. The production is great — acting, visuals, and even music! — and I’m looking forward to season 2.
The Book of Solutions**
A fairly pleasant moment with this new movie by movie-and-music-videos director Michel Gondry. It follows a director who is trying to finish editing a movie despite the opposition of its investors. Hiding in a small village and off his meds, he starts bursting with unfettered creativity. Apparently inspired by Gondry’s experience with another movie shoot a decade ago.
Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food** (Netflix)
A documentary about food safety scandals. While this seems to be more of a US problem, you won’t look at a burger and a bag of salad the same. I recall from my years in China how repeat scandals had made people (and me) suspicious of the food, drinks, and even the air. Some executives narrowly escaped the death penalty thanks to a change in the law then.
100% Physical** (Netflix)
Korean game show involving 100 athletes competing in various survival games. Harmless entertainment.
Depp v. Heard** (Netflix)
Documentary on somewhat of a landmark case. As we all know, the jury found Heard guilty of defamation. I was wondering why the judge made the trial public and televised, here is the answer.
In this age of AI anxiety, where one might wonder about its impact on jobs and productivity, it is a good time to look into this paradox.
The Jevons Paradox states that when a resource becomes cheaper, it sometimes get used a lot more instead of simply reducing the cost. One odd example of this situation is how the Cotton Gin (a machine used to pull cotton fibers from the seed in the late 1790s). It reduced the labor of removing seeds (= destroyed ‘jobs’) but it did not reduce the need for enslaved labor to grow and pick the cotton. In fact, the opposite occurred as the business became more profitable thanks to automation. So it both destroyed a type of labor and expanded another. It also likely led to the civil war.
Another example could be the Haber-Bosch process, a method of directly synthesizing ammonia from hydrogen and nitrogen. It helped produce fertilizer on a much larger scale (collecting guano wasn’t ideal), which enabled a huge population growth.
So what is the takeaway for AI? It will make many tasks more affordable, and used on a much larger scale. It will destroy jobs, but also create plenty. What will the balance be? I guess it will be a net positive, but who can tell?
On those words, see you next time!
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