Author: Espresso Insight

How Crypto Follows the Hype Cycle

Between 2013 and 2021, Cryptocurrency has followed the Hype Cycle exactly as expected. Let me explain.

What is the Hype Cycle?

The Hype Cycle, coined by Gartner, is a law that describes how humans accept new and emerging technologies and adopt them into our everyday lives

Its a generalized way of estimating and predicting the rise and fall of a new technology and the way people react to it.

Figure 1: Phases of the Hype Cycle Curve. Source: Wikipedia; Olga Tarkovskiy – Own work

The curve above is a graph of TIME on the x-axis, and EXPECTATIONS on the y-axis.

In cryptocurrency, expectations is quantified by looking at the price or market cap of cryptocurrencies. For years, the price of cryptocurrency was not interesting. Price was flat.

Hype Cycle Phase: Technology Trigger Pre-R&D

Crypto wasn’t being discussed all over Twitter. It was a nerdy, boring conversation.

Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin were only being used by a few small groups of people, and was nowhere near mainstream discussion or adoption.

Just look at the market cap of Bitcoin between 2013 and 2017 below. Relative to where it is now, this is extremely insignificant

Figure 2: The market cap of bitcoin between 2013 and 2017. Source: CoinMarketCap

Bitcoin’s price and adoption wasn’t even relevant at this point. Compared to the Hype Cycle phases in Figure 1, cryptocurrency wouldn’t have even been on the charts.

But while the public vernacular and mainstream media ignored cryptocurrency, engineers and enthusiasts were quietly building. On the Figure 1 Hype Curve, at this point crypto is leading up to the R&D phase; it still early.

This is why venture capitalists like Marc Andreessen are famously interested in “what the nerds do at night“. By recognizing emerging tech trends before everyone else, you have the opportunity to invest in them at a favorable discount… when the technology principles have been proven, but the applications have not quite been built, they are not user friendly yet, and the mass majority of people aren’t even aware of the technology.

Vitalik Buterin was funded by Peter Thiel in 2015 to found Ethereum. As the potential applications of Ethereum started coming into light, a buzz started happening within tech circles.

Hype Cycle Phase: Early Adopters Investigate

People started to understand the power of this thing called blockchain, and could envision the possible smart contracts and more.

While Bitcoin was built to serve as digital gold, Ethereum was built as a platform from which blockchain applications would grow.

Coinbase.com became the de-facto place to purchase Bitcoin and Ethereum. It was easy to use and wasn’t that different from purchasing stocks at a place like Fidelity or Charles Schwab.

Working a desk job at a cubicle during this time, it felt like colleagues in the office were all starting to think about crypto and were considering buying it on Coinbase.

A few viral memes and Twitter conversations happened and before you know it, the prices of Bitcoin and Ethereum, the two big flagship cryptocurrencies, were pushing all time highs almost every day.

I hate to include a disclaimer here, but as you can tell, I’m going to be generalizing a lot in this post about the crypto community. I mean no disrespect. I love blockchain technology and the projects it has enabled… I want nothing more than what’s best for crypto as a whole. As an owner of bitcoin, ethereum, and other coins, I’ve seen the emotions of early adopters around me have experienced when the prices rise extremely fast (and inevitably fall just as quickly).

Hype Cycle Phase: Inflated Expectations

Towards the end of 2016 and into 2017, everyone started buying crypto. If you took a 10 minute uber ride across town, you would almost undoubtedly hear your driver mention something about the price of bitcoin.

Crypto millionaires were created. A friend of mine even managed to pay off his student loans from selling his stake in Ethereum, which he had acquired just months earlier.

At some point, it felt like people didn’t necessarily care about the applications of blockchain technology. Your average person was interested in trading, buying and selling, getting rich quick and only focused on the price rather than the underlying technology.

At the peak of inflated expectations, a few things can happen:

Engineering and developer teams tend to over-build. More crypto’s launched between the end of 2016 and early 2017 than anyone could keep track of. But the projects being built were not being used by anyone. The projects had no customers…

What the projects DID have, however, were investors. There was an abundance of over-eager individuals looking to throw $100 bucks into any coin with a slim chance of making it in hopes of returning 1000X on their investment.

The problem with this is that there are more people in the crypto community who are focused on making money from the technology than there are users and customers who are actually using the technology for the value it brings into their lives.

This fixation on price is a problem with the crypto community and it still exists to a large extent today.

Hype Cycle Phase: Trough of Disillusionment

As more cryptos were launched than there were users or customers, the over-inflated expectations started to become apparent.

The thing is, no one knows just how HIGH the peak of inflated expectations might go.

Peak of Inflated Expectations leads into the Trough of Disillusionment. Source: CoinMarketCap

In order to capitalize on investments in crypto, the smart ones on Twitter and Reddit communities preached the importance of holding onto the investments, not selling, and riding out the wave.

The thing is, this is a tricky thing to do. It is easy to decide to sell at the top, and even easier to decide to call it quits as an investment tanks and you lost 80-90% of your the value of your portfolio.

In some cases, those that sell at the top end up exiting while they’re ahead. In other cases, people with intentions to sell at the top end up waiting too long, and end up making an emotionally drastic decision to exit their crypto position at the worst possible time, during the trough of disillusionment.

Because the trough can last for years. In the case of Bitcoin and Ethereum, it lasted from the beginning of 2018 through late 2020.

The thing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology (at least so far) is that the rise and fall of price of different cryptocurrencies are heavily correlated with each other.

As bitcoin rises, ethereum usually is rising also. As bitcoin enters the trough of disillusionment, ethereum was too. The same can be said for the other crypto’s that made it through the trough.

Bitcoin didn’t really start to enter the next phase until the coronavirus pandemic was in full swing mid to late 2020.

Hype Cycle Phase: Enlightenment to Productivity

Between late 2020 and today, the market cap of all cryptocurrencies has continued to push all time highs.

As of 2021, bitcoin has pushed all time highs. Source: CoinMarketCap

The reason for this may partly have been accelerated by the pandemic, but there’s more to it than that.

Within the crypto community, there is a large amount of funds going into projects that are receiving mainstream adoption.

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are one example of an application that is seeing close to mass adoption.

Although it is still a fringe hobby, NFT collectibles have some resemblance to the enthusiasm around collectible sports cards and even Pokemon cards.

People are creating NFT masterpieces using artificial intelligence and listing them for sale as unique, one-of-a-kind tokens on websites like OpenSea.

For a fraction of an Ethereum, anyone can go on OpenSea and start collecting their own NFTs.

This is just one example. There are a number of other projects being built on top of Ethereum and discussed but we for many of these applications, it seems we still have a long way to go before mainstream adoption.

So as we’re pushing all time highs in almost every cryptocurrency, my question for the world is: are we entering another peak of inflated expectations? Or is this time for real? Are we truly in the Plateau of Productivity?

And this brings up a few follow up ideas and questions about the future… because at the end of the day, we can’t truly predict the future, we can only form hypothesis based on historic trends, proven laws, and observable principles.

Final Thoughts and Additional Questions

Could a technology go through the various phases of the Hype Cycle more than once?

Will cryptocurrency enter another trough of disillusionment?

How might other technologies follow the hype cycle?

Are there examples of technologies that do NOT follow the hype cycle?

As a technology follows the hype cycle, will the peak of inflated expectations ever over-extend the value of the technology as it reached the Plateau of Productivity?

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Buying and Selling NFT Artwork made by Artificial Intelligence

For a fraction of an Ethereum, you can purchase NFT artwork – many of which are created by an artificial intelligence.

by Project Argo – titled Fading

Combining two exciting emerging technologies, both blockchain and artificial intelligence, you buy and sell unique NFTs and AI-generated NFT artwork on website is called OpenSea.

Project Argo is one collection I’ve browsed through. What’s interesting about Project Argo is that the artist has been able to use AI to develop artwork that seems to have characters or entities within each piece.

As seen in Fading on the right, the NFT appears (to me at least) to feature a face.

Artworks become much more interesting when they appear to feature individual characters and facial expressions.

All types of art – whether painting or literature or music – seems to have a positive or negative connotation.

Some artists create more uplifting artwork (Norman Rockwell or Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel) while others create artwork that is mischievous or scandalous work, and other artists create powerfully dark and emotional works.

Looking through the list of images made by AI, I can’t help but wonder about the baseline emotion evoked by artificial intelligence.

What connotation and sentiment does the neural network create when generating these graphics?

As the lay observer, every photo seems to evoke the same balance of emotion, somewhere between darkness and excitement.

If we had a way to measure emotional sentiment, where might each image fit on a scale that measure how optimistic or pessimistic each image looks?

To me, it feels as though each image is quite close to neutral.

Zen by Project Argo

The surprising thing is that, looking through all of these photos on Project Argo, I get the sense that each piece of artwork is depicting entities that are saying and feeling the same representative emotions.

And yet its difficult to put it into words.

Its like trying to explain what is experienced under the influence of psychedelics – often impossible to do so in worldly terms.

The resemblance to faces in the photos are approximately accurate. Although there is no true face, the outline of eyes, nose, mouth, etc. evoke a baseline facial expression that a person might have when their face is at rest.

The entities depicted in these photos all have the same, neutral facial expression. Not a single smile, eyebrow raise, or wink. They all have the same, neutral look – one that you cannot quite figure out.

Yet the images don’t feel expressionless or emotionless.

They feel as if they are showing life at work. Life doing what life does – here to experience our world for the sake of its own existence.

Except that these entities are in a different place. They don’t exist in our world, but in an unknown realm generated by AI.

Project Argo’s creator, in naming each photo, seemed to air on the side of futuristic Armageddon.

“The last island party” and “robot revolution” for example.

Of the list, Dreamy City and Penguin one stood out. They’re all worth a look.

When artificial intelligence designs an image for humans to look at, what is it trying to say to us?

Is AI trying to tell us something?

As artificial intelligence looks back at us in society, could the message be “you can do better”?

Perhaps we can gather a sense for what AI feels, by looking at the artwork it creates, and by interpreting the conversations it has.

But we’ve got to focus on safety when dealing with artificial intelligence. AI safety is something I’ve spoken about since the beginning of this website.

I’m planning to start selling my own NFTs on OpenSea as well and donate 50% of all revenue to medical research aimed at helping humans live healthier for longer. Please follow me and consider donating or contributing!

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The Problem with The Crypto Community in 2021

The Problem with the Crypto Community Today

The community surrounding a token determines what the crypto project will ultimately become.

The community will make or break a cryptocurrency.

Sure, blockchain is the great enabler, but the technology is nothing without the people and the desire to build cool new projects.

Whether you’re a meme coin or a platform coin, the community is what dictates the success or failure of it.

crypto charts are dumb
source: r/cryptocurrency

And the same is true for cryptocurrency as a whole.

There is an overabundance of discussion online (reddit, twitter, discord groups) that focus solely on short term buy / sell strategies.

Surprisingly, it is difficult to find groups eager to engage in discussions about the long-term future of cryptocurrency as a utilitarian and functional technology that can improve human life.

Unfortunate Crypto Trends:

I’m in a small chat group with around 40 members. When I joined the group, I couldn’t help but notice a few disappointing trends:

There is almost no discussion on long-term strategy (even HODLing) in crypto. It is all discussion about trading, buying low selling high, buying the dip, etc.

Most are buying / selling multiple times in the same day, looking at charts with strange lines and who knows what else.

I really miss the “HODL culture”. HODL culture used to be a thing, and it really doesn’t feel like it is anymore. What happened?

There is less discussion about blockchain technology itself.

90% of people haven’t even read the bitcoin whitepaper.

They have no idea what the Double Spend problem is and how blockchain solved it in 2008 when the paper was published..

People brag about their profits from day to day arbitrarily trading coins.

The macro focus, where it exists, focuses on political aspects like how lawmakers are reacting to crypto, tax implications, which big organizations are investing in various cryptos (Tesla or El Salvador news for example).

The discussion almost never focuses on how a cryptocurrency project solves problems in the real world.

The fact that 99% of all discussion about cryptocurrency is catered towards trading isn’t healthy for the technology’s future.

What The Crypto Community Needs

I believe the crypto community needs to focus more on the execution of crypto’s promises like decentralized apps, smart contracts, and Web 3.

Thank God we have something like NFTs are taking off.

NFTs are finally one of the first mainstream applications of blockchain being used that isn’t solely focused on trading – are built on top of Ethereum. And it started with something as silly as Crypto Kitties.

Say what you will about silly artwork being sold on the blockchain – at least its a real application. Its as productive for society as Pokemon.

NFTs have had an impact because they do fit into a real market in the real world – the collection of trading cards and artwork.

Yet even with NFTs, there’s still that huge focus on buying low, selling high, and profiting.

Instead of trading, the people who actually CARE about cryptocurrency need to think about the long term future of these digital assets and bet with conviction in projects they believe in.

This ultimately comes down to the development team, the community, the real world problem that the coin solves.

This is one reason I appreciate assets that make it easier for other projects to be build. Those projects that serve as platforms for other apps in the blockchain arena.

And developers like Vitalik Buterin who are actually focused on building things that impact the real world, not just gaining hype for a coin and selling / trading and pump and dump schemes.

Ethereum is important because it allows other projects to be built on top of it.

It is almost similar to a hosting or infrastructure service for software projects.

In the early days of the internet, the companies that ended up surviving for the long term are those that focused on building the computers, infrastructure, programming languages, databases, servers and more.

As these tools were mandatory for any new internet based project, those companies were destined to be successful.

To figure out which cryptos are going to be successful…. look at the ones that help create a metaphorical “garden” for new projects to form.

Not all seeds will grow, but the garden will live forever.

That’s enough for today.

Leave a reply below and complain about crypto with me.

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SHIB Crypto Community Supports Dog Rescue and Artwork

There are enough projects out there that are actually doing nothing. Admittedly a meme coin, SHIB is building a strong community:

It goes without saying, THIS IS NOT INVESTING ADVICE. Do your own research.

SHIB token mascot
source: happy doggo

Since the SHIB token community is actually helping raise money for Shiba Inu dogs to get rescued and adopted, it separates itself from 99% of the other coins out there.

The SHIB token and community actively promotes the Shiba Inu Rescue Association.

The Shiba Inu Rescue Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The SHIB crypto community does the service of encouraging members to leverage Amazon Smile, which can donate a portion of your Amazon purchases to the nonprofit.

As fellow dog lovers, when we heard that SHIB crypto community is helping Shiba Inu’s get rescued and adopted, we wanted to be involved. So, yes – we purchased some SHIB token with no intentions of selling for the foreseeable future 🙂

Is the coin garbage? Quite possibly. If by owning SHIB coin, more cute little Shiba Inu puppies are able to find homes, will you regret your ownership regardless of how the price turns out in the long run? Doubt it.

Why The SHIB Token Crypto Community Matters

shib token mascot 2
yep, that’s a bucket of shiba puppies. source: pinterest

SHIB is one of the few communities doing something in the real world.

For that, the community deserves some respect.

The thing about the world of crypto today is that there are a never ending number of new projects and tokens available for purchase.

New crypto projects are launched every. damn. day.

Building a cryptocurrency token on the blockchain has become commoditized.

Although Blockchain can be difficult to wrap your head around, the technology itself is surprisingly simple and elegant compared to the complexities of other types of software.

Development is relatively simple…. the average college student majoring in computer science can write a few lines of code and create a blockchain.

In a market of commoditized goods and services, the one thing that will never be a commodity is the human. People will always determine the value of any cryptocurrency token. The people are the ones that build the community which can create something meaningful.

If you’re looking for a strong cryptocurrency to get on board with, find a token that has a dedicated community.

That being said…..

When two of the biggest names in technology are involved with a project, its a good sign. I’m talking about both Elon Musk (CEO Tesla, SpaceX) and Vitalik Buterin (founder of Ethereum).

Their online publicity for SHIB is another signal for the dedicated and committed community that the SHIB token is building:

Elon Musk Subtweets SHIB Token

Say what you will about shitcoins being overhyped and “pump and dump” schemes. SHIB might even be a scam, who knows… and there has certainly been some big action on the “pump” side.

elon musk tweets about getting a shiba inu

Tweets from Elon Musk about getting a Shiba Inu was likely a subtweet referencing the meme that SHIB as well as DOGE have become.

Vitalik Buterin Gifts $1 Billion in SHIB to India Relief Fund

SHIB token mascot resting his weary head
source: lifehacker australia

Vitalik Buterin was gifted billions of dollars worth of SHIB token, $1 Billion of which he first donated.

But Vitalik had even more SHIB – he only donated 10% of his holdings – and his next move was unexpected.

As seen on Etherscan, Vitalik actually burned the equivalent of more than $12 BILLION in today’s value, since SHIB has appreciated since then.

Vitalik explained his rationale for the whole endeavor in a note.

In the note, Vitalik mentioned that he was “impressed with how the dog communities have treated the recent donations” and focus on “making the world better as a whole“.

For a crypto community, this is quite inspiring to see, and might just restore our faith in humanity.

SHIB Token Artwork

Aside from donating, the SHIB community encourages its members to create artwork.

Its unclear from the website how the artwork is related to the SHIB token, but it can be expected that at some point, NFT artwork may be involved.

There are all sorts of different artwork creations being made featuring the cute little Shiba Inu puppy mascot, just look at a few of them below.

SHIB token community artwork collage

As far as a Shiba Inu coin art incubator, it looks like they’ve started taking applications and we’ll look forward to seeing more exciting creations that the community comes up with.

So, its a fact that SHIB token has had more than a few positive impacts on the world: donating money to India Relief fund, as well as helping raise money for Shiba Inu dog adoption.

And if we’re going to risk betting on a cryptocurrency, we want to bet on one where we know there is at least some good in the world coming of it, because there’s always the chance that we lose our money.

Regardless of whether or not we go to the moon, funds are being raised, and dogs are being helped.

Because dogs are our best friend.

Which cryptocurrencies do you like? Which tokens do you think are actually doing something in the real world?

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Make Your Own Paintings with Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence has many applications – artwork is just one of them.

In the future, will artists might rely on artificial intelligence tools in the creation process?

With an easy to use text-to-image generation process, anyone in the world can create original masterpieces regardless of technical know how or skill level.

You don’t even have to know what artificial intelligence is to use tools like this. It just goes to show you the exciting power that AI is bringing to our lives.

All you have to do is type a few words, and optionally upload a starting image.

Here is a link to the website: https://creator.nightcafe.studio/create

The website itself is actually fun to use as well – it includes a list of top posts, so you can see which creations have been most popular and most liked by others in the community.

Currently, the most liked post is a picture that resembles a strawberry grenade:

Strawberry hand grenade just started to explode
created by Alex_Heart_Sun

The process of creating the artworks is quite satisfying. It allows you to express just a bit of creativity – coming up with words that might fit together to create something unique, finding a starting point image on Google, and then letting artificial intelligence do the rest.

The exceptional levels of complexity that can arise from such simplistic inputs is quite astonishing.

Write simple words, such as “A mess yet magical” and you might end up with something like the below:

Created by @celeste

To be honest, this isn’t the first website that allows you to create art with artificial intelligence, but it is one of the most fun, in my opinion.

Say what you will about robots taking over, or artificial intelligence tools replacing human labor in the workforce – the company’s website states that AI is here “to make art creation accessible to the masses”.

And to be frank, the creation process couldn’t be simpler or more intuitive – literally anyone can create something.

Here’s one below that I made, and even added a saccharine title.

This website uses artificial intelligence to enable people to create artwork without any skill, practice, or knowledge.
“Utopian Scarface 1 Million Years Into the Future” by Espresso Insight

The ability to build applications that leverage AI as features yet can be used by the layperson even if they are non-technical means that the adoption of AI might end up happening faster that you might expect.

One can only imagine what artificial intelligence generated music might be like as AI applications expand. I can’t wait for someone to build a way to create your own music using a process and technique that is as simple and easy as this one.

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The Sun Becoming a Red Giant

Without the SUN, life on our planet would not exist.

Earth would be a lifeless, ball of ice.

It is the enabler of plants, water, heat, creating the entire ecosystem.

But the sun has a dark side.

Solar flares can interrupt power lines and radio signals causing blackouts.

Solar rays can cause skin cancer, which affects over 3.4 million Americans every year.

Sunscreen is the best defense, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a pain in the ass.

Its surface temperature of the sun is 10,000 deg. F.

90% of the sun is hydrogen, and while it might seem like a star that’s 300,000 times bigger than Earth would exist forever, it consumes 5 million tons of that hydrogen every second.

And one day, our Sun will die.

When stars die, they typically expand into a giant supernova releasing dust and other matter.

Our sun, however, is not big enough to become a supernova.

Instead, our sun will explode into a massive red giant.

The Sun will eventually engulf Mercury and Venus, while bombarding Earth with unlivable amounts of solar radiation

All plants will be burned to a crisp.

Rivers, lakes, and oceans will be baked dry.

Life on Earth will be extinct.

As life becomes uninhabitable on Earth, the goldilocks zone of our solar system will shift towards the outer planets.

This means other places in the solar system – even the moons of Jupiter and Saturn could be suitable for life.

But this will be temporary.

Shortly after the sun has shed its outer layers, it will condense to become a white dwarf, which is the small but immensely dense core of a dead star.

Planets in our solar system will continue to orbit this dead star, but will be too cold to sustain life.

If humans are to survive, we will need to develop space travel and colonization tactics.

The good news is that humanity has about 5 billion years left until the Sun begins to turn into a Red Dwarf.

But we need to continue focusing on developing deep space travel technologies immediately.

May scientists believe the Great Filter is real.

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Airport Hacks I Have Known and Loved

Business professionals end up flying more than expected

Air travel ends up being a big part of the day to day experience of busy professionals.

As I’ve posted specifically about the future of air travel before, at espressoinsight.com, I generally attempt to cover the future of business and emerging technology. To minimize travel stress and maximize comfort, it is important to know how to optimize your experience as a passenger.

Moving to Oahu, Hawaii meant flights between the island and mainland became a regularity.

As taxing on my personal budget as this has been, taking a minimum of a 5+ hour flight everytime I want to go anywhere off-island meant that I quickly adapted to quick a few tricks of the trade of air travel.

I hope these are helpful – not necessarily to hack the system, but simply to make the flying experience more enjoyable.

Airport Hack #1: Boarding time

Oftentimes, when the planes are not at full capacity, you will be able to have your choice of seating if you are last to board the plane. Flying during pandemic times with a large percentage of empty flights is just glorious.

The best seats in first class and even the ones that aren’t quite first class but are still premium seats are often open.

As a bonus, you can opt to find a seat by the window or aisle to your choosing, and may even be lucky enough to get a whole row to yourself as I have a few times.

(add photo).

Boarding late on my flight from San Francisco to Honolulu, more than half of first class was completely open, as well as many seats in the premium / upgraded section, where I was able to find an entire free row.

Words of advice: Even if first class is open (the ones with the lounge chairs and private rooms / pods etc), avoid sitting in first class, though, because the flight attendants will often keep a seating chart to greet first class by name, which would be a dead giveaway for you, in which case you may be asked to move.

Airport Hack #2: Optimizing carry-on luggage

Depending on your ticket, you might not be allowed more than one personal item, meaning no bringing an extra carry on. If this is the case, there is a way to sneak an extra bag on if you absolutely need to.

On personal items and carry ons: Not all of us are minimalists, sometimes we have a lot of stuff to bring with us.

Let’s be honest – bringing extra stuff on the plane isn’t going to hurt anyone. There’s always plenty of room – and even if there weren’t, the gate attendants will start offering people a “free checked bag” directly at the gate, so there’s always a solution.

The bag rules are the airlines’ way of encouraging customers to upgrade their tickets and spend more money.

Heck, I’ve brought my guitar on the plane and stuck it in an overhead bin with absolutely no issues whatsoever. When carrying on such a large item, keep an eye out for bin space anywhere on the plane. You don’t necessarily have to use the bins directly above your seat, just find a spot that will fit your instrument and remember where you put it!

However, to ensure the overhead bin space isn’t full, consider trying to get in line to boared sooner rather than later (yes, this optimizing for Airport Hack #2 goes is the opposite strategy of Airport Hack #1).

Here’s what you do: opt for a small-ish duffel bag and a backpack, and don’t jam-pack them too full. When you walk to the gate and scan your ticket, arrange your backpack so that it is on top of your duffel with the straps of the straps of the duffel wrapped around the backpack.

(show photo here).

Voila, you have technically “consolidated” your two bags into one, and may carry on in peace! To avoid any hassles from the gatekeepers, walk up to the gate attendant with the bags in your left hand, low and at your side, with a big smile and friendly greeting, and scan your ticket / ID with your left hand exclusively.

Airport Hack #3: Masks

Mask hacks: Masks are important an a necessity on all airlines currently, however, often, masks can become uncomfortable when worn for 5+ hours on a flight because they pull on your ears.

An easy fix for this is to bend the metal nose bridge so it squeezes and affixes the mask to your face, allowing the mask to remain in place without the need of the ear-loops. Unhooking your ear loops and balancing the gently pinched mask onto your nose, I have even used a small piece of tape to keep it in place. You be the judge on what’s most comfortable, but I’ve found that it can be nice to give my ears a break from being pulled forward.

Additional options are to find a mask that has looser ear loops so that it is less tight on your face.

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NASA Mission to 16-Psyche Asteroid 2022: Preview and Updates

The asteroid 16-Psyche contains an estimated $10,000 quadrillion worth of precious metals.

Psyche Mission Key Takeaways:

  • Purpose: to study the chemical composition of the 16-Psyche asteroid.
  • For the first time ever, study a terrestrial world not made of rock and ice, but made of metal. [2]
  • To determine the asteroid’s age.
  • To analyze the topography
  • Launch Date: August 1, 2022 from the NASA Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida
  • Estimated arrival date: January 2026
  • Trip Length: 3.5 years
  • Mission Length: After reaching the asteroid, the plan is to spend 21 months in orbit studying and analyzing 16-Psyche.

The Psyche Mission: Why it Matters

In Depth | 16 Psyche – NASA Solar System Exploration
source: NASA

“What makes the asteroid Psyche unique is that it appears to be the exposed nickel-iron core of an early planet, one of the building blocks of our solar system.” – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The mission is planning to explore 16-Psyche, a metallic asteroid, and will launch from a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in August 2022.

Sending a robotic spacecraft beyond Earth orbit into deep space is always a big milestone. When dealing with distances in the neighborhood of millions of miles, we’re talking about so long of a voyage that the spacecraft components will never come back to Earth.

The Psyche mission may present unique insights for a future industry in asteroid mining.

Most asteroids that are made of rock or ice. Psyche is special, as it is composed almost entirely of metal.

Metal is much harder than rock, and perhaps would allow the morphology and crater formation on a metallic asteroid to be quite different from that of a rocky object.

Psyche holds one the the big mysteries of the universe – one of the only mainly metal object in space, how did a metal asteroid like this form?

The metallic composition is interesting because Earth’s core is made of up to 95% metal (iron and nickel) as well. Unfortunately, Earth’s core is 1864 miles bow the crust and mantle, so we can’t directly study it.

Seeking answers to the origins of an asteroid like psyche may help us unlock answers to our own planet’s formation – how might planetary cores have formed?

The metallic core of Earth is unreachable, so we can only indirectly observe its unique properties, magnetic field, etc. By exploring a metal core that resembles that of Earth, but isn’t surrounded by the mantle and crust, we may gain a better understanding of our own planet, and even the formation of other rocky planets like Earth.

The Asteroid Belt

Illustration of the location of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Source: spaceplace.nasa

Psyche is located within the asteroid belt, an aggregation of rocky debris of various size between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Jupiter, with such a strong gravitational field, plays a large role in protecting Earth from experiencing too many asteroid impacts. Jupiter’s proximity to the asteroid belt means it attracts a large percentage of rogue asteroids, keeping Earth out of harm’s way.

While moving through space, asteroids and comets smash into each other at 11000 miles per hour, causing the surfaces to have contours and craters from these impacts. [11]

What Does 16-Psyche Look Like?

Humans have never visited a celestial object like this up close, so we literally can only guess what features the images might show.

16-Psyche is one if the largest metallic asteroids – an M-type asteroid, meaning it is made up of primarily metal, iron, nickel, and other substituents.

Given that the asteroid is made primarily of nickel/iron metal scientists can hypothesize that 16-Psyche may resemble nickel/iron meteorites that have hit Earth.

The 16- stands for the fact that it was the 16th asteroid discovered in centuries past.

Comparing the unexplored asteroid to meteorites that we have directly observed, we may expect to find the rock exhibiting crystal structures resembling octahedron (known as Widmanstätten patterns), and potentially even crystals embedded within the rock.

There are many M-type meteorites that have hit Earth. These may provide an example of how the 16-Psyche asteroid might look up close. Source: Wikipedia

How big is 16-Psyche?

Not a perfect sphere, Psyche has an average diameter of 139 miles across [11] and is 3% the mass of the moon.

The size of Psyche. source: Vissiniti [8]

Technologies used during the Psyche Mission

The spacecraft, named Psyche after the asteroid itself, is being built for NASA by Maxar Technologies in Palo Alto, California.

With the ultimate purpose of testing hypothesis for how 16-Psyche was formed, the spacecraft will use the following tools to study 16-Psyche asteroid:

  • multispectral imager
  • gamma-ray spectrometer
  • neutron spectrometer
  • magnetometer
  • X-Ray / radio instrument (for gravity measurement)
  • solar electric propulsion mechanism (ion thrusters)

Imaging Technologies

Multispectral imaging technologies are able to capture images including wavelength data within and beyond the visible light spectrum.

Humans are able to see between 400-700 nm wavelengths of light; however, imaging beyond these wavelengths into the UV or infrared range can allow scientists to gather information about the greater electromagnetic spectrum.

Spectrometer Technologies

Spectrometers are tools that measure light. Although there are many different types of spectrometers, the name literally means “light measuring”. The root word “spectrum” comes from Latin, meaning light. The work “meter” comes from Greek, meaning “a measure”.

The spectrometers used on this mission will identify the way that light reflects off the asteroid to identify its physical and chemical composition.

Magnetometer

An instrument used for measuring magnetic forces, especially the Earth’s magnetism.

The spacecraft will use a magnetometer to measure 16-Psyche’s magnetic field, seeing how it might resemble earth.

Propulsion System

Although NASA has used ion thrusters for deep space missions to Ceres, another asteroid, in the past, this will be the first time a mission has used hall thrusters to go into deep space, and will use Xenon gas as propellant.

Hall thrusters are a type of ion thruster that use a magnetic field to confine the flow of propellant consistent. For example, the NASA developed X3 is a type of hall-effect ion thruster.

CSU's Hall Effect Thruster Operating on Krypton
Hall thruster testing with Krypton. Source: Colorado State University

Hall thrusters are commonly used in Earth orbiting satellites. SpaceX Starlink satellites famously use hall thrusters to alter their orbit and trajectory.

Ion thrusters are the ideal propulsion system for long-term missions because they allow for a slow but consistent and energy efficient acceleration, allowing the spacecraft to reach a higher max velocity. These ion thrusters are often solar powered via electricity.

Whereas chemical propulsion (which rockets use to take off from Earth) are useful for short bursts of power to reach orbit, these systems are not ideal to sustain long-distance space travel because the fuel would take up much more space than we have room for.

If the mission leaves in August 2022 as planned, it will take 3.5 years to reach Psyche, arriving in January 2026.

In addition to determining the feasibility of possible mining missions in the future, scientists hope that studying a metal based asteroid will uncover insights into Earth’s core, which is also composed mainly of metal.

How Much Money is 16-Psyche Worth?

According to one of NASA’s principal investigators for the mission, Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the fact that an asteroid contains trillions of dollars worth of precious metals doesn’t mean that it’s going to make everyone on Earth rich.

Elkins-Tanton, who was recently interviewed by the Miami Herald, stated that although Psyche contains massive amounts of iron, nickel, copper, even gold and platinum, humans will not be able to benefit financially from it for two reasons:

  1. The logistics of mining and transporting that amount of cargo back to Earth is impossible from a practical standpoint. It would take us decades or centuries to develop and start this process.
  2. If we were to magically have all that metal on Earth, it would crash the markets due to an oversupply, making metals practically worthless.

Although the Elkins-Tanton’s logic is sound, perhaps there is a scenario where humans are able to overcome the logistics of asteroid mining for our benefit without downfalls of flooding the markets.

The way this scenario could play out is through exponential technological progress.

In the 1950s, for example, people never imagined that we would carry computers around in our pockets. We never would have imagined

In 2021, the industry for computer chips is worth around $500 billion. [10] Anyone who says we could have predicted this is lying.

Similarly, it is impossible to imagine what industries and markets will exist, or what manufacturing and commerce will look like as humans embark into the Space Age.

Perhaps someday, within a couple generations or even sooner, humans will be mining asteroids and using the materials to build unimaginable technologies that only exist in the world of science fiction today.

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Sources:

  1. NASA JPL
  2. Psyche Mission site
  3. https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/04/nasas-most-metal-mission-will-test-new-higher-power-electric-thrusters/
  4. https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/dawn/technology/ion-propulsion/
  5. https://www.freethink.com/articles/hall-thruster
  6. https://spacenews.com/phase-four-launches-first-plasma-propulsion-systems/
  7. https://scitechdaily.com/nasas-electrifying-new-propulsion-systems/
  8. The Size of Psyche asteroid
  9. Psyche Asteroid Miami Herald
  10. Computer chips
  11. The Psyche mission blog on Medium

Tesla AI day 2021 Recap and Takeaways

The purpose of Tesla AI Day is to get the world excited about what Tesla is doing in artificial intelligence beyond cars.

AI day is also a recruiting event for prospective engineers as the company ramps up hiring.

Key Takeaways from Tesla AI Day 2021

Source: Tesla AI day

Make useful AI that people love, and is unequivocally good. – Elon Musk

  • Vertical integration is a common theme in the presentation. For both software, hardware, neural net training, and more. This means that Tesla builds and designs a large percentage of their technology in house.
  • The company is able to auto label data sets as well as create simulation data sets with unlimited scenarios for training the neural network.
  • DOJO is Tesla’s supercomputer designed for one purpose – training neural networks. It will be in use and available next year.
  • The neural net architecture resembles the visual cortex of an animal.
  • They will build a humanoid robot (see Tesla Bot at right)
  • TLDR: skynet is born? Hopefully not. Although Elon said that human-level superintelligence is certainly possible, both the car and the Tesla Bot are examples of building “narrow AI” to avoid AI being misaligned with humans.

FSD beta version 9

FSD (Full-self-driving) is the autonomous system that is deployed to all cars, which customers can purchase for around $10,000.

The often debated fact that Tesla does not use LIDAR, as do many other autonomy oriented companies like GM cruise or Google Waymo, means that its cars use only cameras to gather data about the surroundings and navigate the world. Although the company mentioned plans to upgrade the cameras, the current cameras are still more than good enough.

The philosophy behind this decision is that roads were built for human eyes to see and navigate. Therefore, the cars should be able to gather sufficient data to navigate autonomously using only cameras.

Elon jokingly stated that because of this, someone could technically wear a T-shirt with a stop sign on it, and the car would stop. But ultimately, the company seems confident that cameras will be sufficient.

“It’s clearly headed to way better than human. Without a question.” – Elon Musk

Note: Tesla cars are not yet fully autonomous. Drivers still need to keep their attention and focus on the road at all times. [1]

Tesla still has yet to reach High Driving Automation level of autonomy (known as Level 4 Autonomy)

FSD driver-assist benefits:

  • Navigate on Autopilot
  • Auto Lane Change
  • AutoPark
  • Summon
  • Traffic Light and Stop Control

Neural Net Architecture

There are 8 cameras surrounding the video that capture images of the real world. Tesla’s system uses these images to create a 3D reconstruction of the scene in “vector space”.

Using these images and vector space rendering, the system makes predictions about what the car may encounter a few moments into the future, allowing the car to drive itself safely and without running into anything.

As the neural network improves as it is trained on more and more data, Tesla is slowly building a brain-like neural net that resembles the visual cortex of an animal.

The presenters mentioned that everything Tesla is building is fundamentally country agnostic. Although they are optimizing the neural net models for the US at this point, they will be able to extrapolate to other countries as well in the future.

The ability to plan allows the car to predict and make changes about what other cars are doing on the road in real time.

Predictive and planning themed capabilities aside, the upper limit of the neural network has enough power to remember all of the roads and highways on planet Earth.

The presentation spent a significant amount of time diving into the specifics of Tesla’s Neural Net Architecture. For specifics, watch the replay of the 2021 AI day livestream.

Source: Tesla

Training Neural Networks – Data Required

Every time a human driver gets inside a Tesla, they are helping to train the neural network. Although this may make an incremental improvement, this is not enough training data.

These networks have hundreds of millions of parameters – it is incredibly important to get as many data sets as possible to create 3D renderings in vector space.

Millions of labels are needed, and each piece of data is essentially just a small video clip. Associated with each clip, you have the actual image/video data, odometer information, GPS coordinates, and more.

Tesla needs millions of vector space data sets to train these neural networks. In the spirit of vertical integration, there was formerly a team at Tesla that tediously labeled all of that data. But manual labeling proved to be too slow – there is a better way.

Auto Labeling Data Sets

Tesla developed an auto labeling system, allowing them to generate extremely large training data sets much faster for training the neural network. The auto labeling mechanism is extremely important.

“Without auto labeling, we would not be able to solve the self driving problem.” – Elon Musk

Simulations

In addition to real-world data sets from camera footage, Tesla also is creating simulations of traffic scenarios.

It is like a video game, where Tesla Autopilot is the player. Simulation is helpful when data is difficult to source, difficult to label, or is in a closed loop.

Algorithms are able to create the simulation scenarios. These algorithms analyze where the system is failing, and then create more data around the failure points to allow the neural network to learn, improve, and handle those scenarios better in the future.

Elon specifically discouraged the use of machine learning because it is extremely difficult, and largely not the right solution for most use cases.

Project Dojo, Tesla’s Supercomputer

Dojo is the name of the neural network training system. Like a training Dojo.

Given all the data and simulations required, there is a demand for speed and capacity in AI neural network training. This is where Dojo comes in.

Dojo

Currently, it is difficult to scale up bandwidth and reduce latencies, because processors have not been traditionally designed for training neural nets.

This is why Tesla invented the DPU.

DPU – Dojo processing unit. Whereas CPUs and GPUs are not designed to train neural networks, the DPU is designed to train neural networks.

The goal is to achieve the best possible AI training performance, supporting larger complex models while being power efficient and cost effective. Elon said it will be available next year.

This effectively enhances the AI software system, improving FSD.

Dojo leverages a distributed compute architecture.

It is apparently capable of an exaFLOP, which mean is can do a super high number of calculations per second, way more than your average computer. It is a supercomputer, after all…

Tesla will also make Dojo available to other companies that want to train their own neural networks, effectively building a platform for improving neural networks. This feels like an optimum opportunity to apply the “as-a-service” business model to the world of artificial intelligence and neural network training. By licensing out the use of Dojo, Tesla may be able to create yet another revenue stream for the company.

Thay have reportedly innovated in these chips in a way that means there are no roadblocks to extremely high bandwidth.

The software stack is completely vertically integrated. They build everything in house.

Source: Tesla

As the Dojo computer and neural network data sets improve the neural network, it is likely that the company will deploy the improved brain-like software upgrades via their over-the-air software updates.

Hardware and Computer Chips

One of the biggest goals is minimize latency, and maximize frame rate. These metrics may be familiar to you if you are involved in video games & graphics.

There is a computer in the car that runs the neural network that has been trained by the massive data sets discussed above.

Allegedly, the computer chip for Tesla’s Full Self-Driving system are produced by Samsung. [1]

The importance of computer chips to Tesla cannot be overstated. Various computer chips are used in all areas of the vehicle – even in the typically non-tech intensive parts of a car: computerized airbags, seat belts, doors and door handles, etc.

Given the reliance on them, the computer chip and semiconductor shortage is an issue across the globe is certainly a hurdle to resolve. [1]

Tesla Bot

Tesla Bot – known endearingly by Elon as “Optimus subprime” – a 5 foot 8 inch, 125 pound humanoid robot.

Given that the Tesla car is already essentially a robot, the Tesla Bot will simply use all the same technologies, in a device with a shape like that of a human.

r/teslainvestorsclub - Tesla Robot Screenshot
source: Tesla

It will make use of all the same tools that Tesla has in the car… such as 8 cameras, FSD computer, etc.

Elon was unfortunately reluctant to share any specific use cases, other than stating vaguely that it will do boring, repetitive, and dangerous tasks that humans do not want to do.

There are still many unknowns. Will the Tesla Bot have features similar to Siri or Amazon Alexa / Echo?

In addition to being a large automaker, Tesla is showing that they are very much a robotics, artificial intelligence, and software company.

Disclaimer: TSLA shareholder

Sources and references

  1. Criticism of Tesla (wikipedia article)
  2. Tesla.com AI day

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Cholodny-Went: Mental Models To Know #1

The Cholodny-Went Model is an theory in biology from the 1920s that describes how light energy on part of a plant will stimulate growth of the entire plant by producing and transporting a hormone (called auxin), to other parts of the plant that don’t get the benefit of direct light exposure. This is how root systems are grown, as well as leaves and branches on the lower areas of the plant.

The Cholodny-Went theory is valuable because it serves as a model for processes in any realm – human life, business, industry, education, etc. that result in indirect improvements in other areas.

The model is a good example of how positive stimulus in even a small area can have a large positive impact on something that might be seemingly unrelated.

How can this be applied to life and business?

Self improvement: Apply the Cholodny-Went model to improve your life by realizing that certain behaviors and actions can have an indirect positive (or negative) effect on other areas of your life.

Hiring: Good employees are hard to come by. But if you can get hiring done right, the rest of your business will excel in multiple areas as a result. A company is simply made up of the people multiplied by the systems in place that allow those people to be productive. It is a simple principle: having more intelligent and skilled employees means that your company will do better.

Steve Jobs has discussed how getting “A-players” together results in future hiring becoming a self-policing phenomena where they only want to hire other A-players to work with. By hiring a few A-players at a company and allowing them to work together, a company will likely not only have more productive employees, but also impact future hiring by enabling

Exercise: Doing squats might seem like solely a leg exercise, but the effect of doing this simple workout may indirectly help stimulate hypertrophy (muscle growth) throughout the human body. Squats are so intense and require so much physical exertion that they help increase testosterone throughout the body. Leg workouts are known to have this effect as well, but squats have the greatest effect [2]. This indirectly helps you build muscle and strength in your upper body, core, and other areas. The simple act of exercise does more than improve your life physically. The act of doing hard things and pushing yourself may improve your mental and stress levels in other areas of your life.

Product development: Elon Musk has a common business mantra that goes “focus on making the product great”. By applying the Cholodny-Went principle here, we can begin to understand why Elon believes so fervently in this statement. By improving the product, this has a down-stream positive impact on other areas of the company:

  • Lower customer support cost: A better product means that the customer support team has an easier job, with fewer bugs and customer issues to solve.
  • Lower marketing budget: A better product also means that news may spread by word of mouth, so the company needs to do less in the way of advertising.
  • Better finances: a great product will be one that customers are excited to buy. If customers love the product, they will buy more of them, so the company will be more profitable.

Learning: The world of knowledge is seemingly infinite. One of my favorite instagram accounts shares a large amount of Charlie Munger Quotes.

Using the Cholodny-Went model in your own life

There are many ways the Cholodny-Went model may be applied to life and business.

As CMQ investing has discussed on his substack page, using various models when thinking about problems can help you make better decisions.

Leave a comment and share a few areas where you can apply the Cholodny-Went model to improve your own life!

Sources:

  1. https://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdf/S0960-9822(02)70780-X.pdf
  2. Hormonal Response to Leg Exercise: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24276305/

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