The W: A Weekly Reading List

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In this week’s edition…inclusion over out-groups…is war between US and China inevitable…it’s ok for all your passwords to be simple says the guy who made them complex…Silicon Valley and LSD…is Neymar worth it…and more.


Have a great weekend!


Business & Economics

What BMW’s Corporate VC Offers That Regular Investors Can’t

Gimmy’s insight was that the key to overcoming these challenges and to improving corporate co-innovation is not for companies to compete more effectively with private venture capitalists or accelerators, but to focus on what they can offer to top startups that others cannot. He noted that, in general, startups require three things to grow: capital, coaching, and clients. Private VCs and other professional investors can provide the first two. But only large corporates can offer the last one. Top startups already have market leading solutions. They need clients — that is, purchase orders — far more than advice or capital. (HBR)


Europe’s no business as usual summer

It is not only the south that goes in for summer sloth. Production workers at Porsche, a German carmaker, are on a compulsory three-week break. In Norway fellesferie refers to a period of collective leave in July, when many firms shut and services including banks run on summer hours. In the Netherlands the bouwvak still means that many construction workers must take three weeks off in July and August. The timing is doubly puzzling for the industry because demand is strong and summer is the best time to build in a wet country. Even some police stations are shut in August. Presumably crime takes a break, too. (Economist)


Deloitte’s Radical Attempt to Reframe Diversity

Deloitte has started a major debate in diversity circles by turning its approach upside down. The firm is ending its women’s network and other affinity groups and starting to focus on…men. The central idea: It’ll offer all managers — including the white guys who still dominate leadership — the skills to become more inclusive, then hold them accountable for building more-balanced businesses. (HBR)


Politics & Policy

Macron Takes On France’s Labor Code, 100 Years in the Making

“You’ve got to be able to let people go without creating problems,” he said. The code is not a help. “It’s so complex, I don’t even look at it,” Mr. Kuchly said. The language of the code itself is extraordinarily mystifying, even in the judgment of experts. One passage in the section on firing states: “If, in the case of the definitive and total closing of the company, the judge cannot, without being unaware of the autonomy of this reason for the firing, deduce the fault or the blameworthy frivolity from the sole absence of economic difficulties, or, in the contrary case, deduce the absence of fault from the existence of such difficulties, it is not forbidden to him to take into account the economic situation of the company in order to evaluate the conduct of the employer.” (NY Times)


Is war between China and the US inevitable?

“[The English philosopher] Hobbes taught us there are no superior authorities,” says Allison. “Nobody is superior to Trump and Xi, but imagine there were. Imagine a Martian strategist who parachutes down to Xi and Trump, and says, ‘Guys, I have a few things to point out to you.’” Having begun by reminding the pair of the historical dangers of the Thucydides Trap, the Martian would argue that the greatest dangers to both leaders exist within their own borders. “‘The fundamental problem that each of you face, and that each of your societies faces, is whether you are going to be able to govern yourself. I am betting against each of you.’” (South China Morning Post)


Art & Culture

To Catch a Counterfeiter

There’s also the fact that counterfeiting is ingrained in the economic fabric of China. “If Xi could wave a magic wand and end counterfeiting without social disharmony, he would,” Dan Harris, the lawyer behind the popular China Law Blog, told me. “But in Yiwu, think how hard that would be — they’d have to crush the whole town. And then there’s the aftermath — what happens to the schools? The tax base? Transportation?” The consequences, Harris argued, would be devastating. “Let’s say, hypothetically, that 25 percent of Yiwu’s economy comes directly from counterfeiting and illicit trade,” he said. “Well, that means that the rest of its economy depends in part on the money those counterfeiters and traders spend. So, could Beijing do more to fight counterfeiting in places like Yiwu? Sure. But at what cost?” (The California Sunday Magazine)


Sorry, We Do Not Employ Anyone Named Iron Man

A prankster has faxed thousands of them, bearing the iniTech logo, all over the world over the years, with a note that they hadn’t been filled in correctly. Most went to people who probably had never heard of TPS reports, a much-maligned piece of paperwork featured in the 1999 movie. Hundreds of the recipients have googled the real-life iniTech and contacted Mr. DiBernardo’s nine-person engineering firm based in Clifton, N.J., asking for the faxes to stop. Would he change the name of his 11-year-old company? No. “It was clearly the right name to use,” he says. “It’s been a source of laughs.” (WSJ)


Technology & Computing

The Man Who Wrote Those Password Rules Has a New Tip: N3v$r M1^d!

Academics who have studied passwords say using a series of four words can be harder for hackers to crack than a shorter hodgepodge of strange characters—since having a large number of letters makes things harder than a smaller number of letters, characters and numbers. In a widely circulated piece, cartoonist Randall Munroe calculated it would take 550 years to crack the password “correct horse battery staple,” all written as one word. The password Tr0ub4dor&3—a typical example of a password using Mr. Burr’s old rules—could be cracked in three days, according to Mr. Munroe’s calculations, which have been verified by computer-security specialists. (WSJ)


The Computational and Aesthetic Foundations of Artificial Empathy

Socially, a “doomsday” scenario of AI dominating humanity is entrenched in popular culture, ranging from movies to political worries of the role of AI in military organizations. However, this fear is based on an assumption that intelligence is the only facet of the human experience that researchers seek to replicate. The AI agents portrayed as harmful are those that can understand their surroundings, store large amounts of data, possess advanced knowledge, and have the capability to coordinate, kill, and destroy far beyond humans. On the other hand, these portrayals of AI do not show artificial empathy, compassion, and love that even approach the same level of humans. In this paper, I plan to investigate the scientific and computational foundations of artificial empathy, and the aesthetic methods of making it appear genuine. Using an interdisciplinary approach, I aim to show that artificial empathy is not only possible, but also necessary for a positive future for artificial intelligence. (Stanford Intersect)


A New Way to Reproduce

The technology could carry socially disruptive consequences. Women might have children regardless of age. Just grab some skin and poof, young eggs. And if eggs and sperm can be produced in the lab, why not also make embryos by the dozens and test them to pick those with the least disease risk or the best chance of a high IQ? Henry Greely, a member of Stanford University’s law faculty and one of the most influential bioethical thinkers in the U.S., finds that scenario likely. Last year, in a book titled The End of Sex, he predicted half of couples would stop reproducing naturally by 2040, instead relying on synthetic reproduction using skin or blood as a starting point. (MIT Tech Review)


Psychology & Health

Why Do Women Bully Each Other at Work?

One time, Shannon emailed a female partner—one of the passive-aggressive variety—saying, “Attached is a revised list of issues and documents we need from the client. Let me know of anything I may have left off.” “Here’s another example” of you not being confident, the partner responded, according to Shannon. “The ‘I may have left off’ language is not as much being solicitous of my ideas as it is suggesting a lack of confidence in the completeness of your list.” (The Atlantic)


When someone loses a pet, don’t say, ‘It’s just a dog.’ It’s not.

My own modest contribution to all this? For me, “there’s more serious stuff going on,” or “they’re not human” are precisely the reasons we grieve so much. Our bonds with our pets are our mental sanctuaries. Homer was my refuge: My reminder that however much pettiness, betrayal or bad faith that I — or people around me — might exhibit from time to time, there was such a thing as basic goodness. It emanated from him in episodes like all those silly moments that raced through my head in his final hour. (Washington Post)


How Silicon Valley rediscovered LSD

“I don’t do coffee, I do acid,” she says. The declaration that she takes a Class A drug does not distract her from nibbling a chunk of salmon in her taco bowl. The 29-year-old start-up founder began microdosing LSD — tiny doses every few days — in January. At just a tenth of a tripping dose, she does not experience psychedelic effects. Rather than swirling in a magical universe with pink elephants, she says microdosing has improved her productivity, creativity and helped her focus. On LSD, she is able to concentrate when developing company strategy, speed through user design sessions and sparkles making new contacts. (Financial Times)


Media & Entertainment

How a kiss is not a kiss, and punches are pulled in acting

But perhaps because of the successful staging of intimacy by some directors, many still struggle with the idea of needing special techniques for staging intimacy, even though they almost always recognize the need for other specialists, like fight choreographers. Onstage intimacy and fighting have a lot in common. In fact, many intimacy directors started in stage combat. (LEO Weekly)


Why Neymar is different

Mr Khelaifi is well aware that the numbers don’t seem to add up. But he claims to be playing a longer game. In modern football, what separates the business models of the most profitable clubs from those of their rivals is not television or match-day revenue but rather “commercial” income, chiefly from corporate sponsorships. And those contracts in turn depend on having global name recognition. At the turn of the century, Real Madrid successfully leveraged the signings of a bevy of name-brand stars, nicknamed the galácticos, to become a worldwide sporting icon and one of football’s highest-earning clubs. PSG, which already receives a higher share of its revenue from commercial deals than any other club, hopes to follow in Madrid’s footsteps. “When you think about Neymar as a brand,” Mr Khelaifi said on August 4th, “maybe it won’t be so expensive.” (Economist)



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