Weekly Dose of Optimism #75
ALOHA, LNG, Weight-Loss Capsules, Meissner Effect?, AVC Predictions, Choose Optimism.
Hi friends 👋,
Happy Friday and welcome back to our 75th Weekly Dose of Optimism. We hope you had a lovely holiday season and are feeling energized for 2024. We are hitting the ground running this year. I found myself whispering “We are so back?” to myself while writing this week’s edition.
I’m not sure if we are, indeed, so back quite yet. But things are certainly pointing in the right direction.
Let’s get to it.
The Weekly Dose is brought to you by…Create
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A team of Stanford PhD roboticists and AI researchers released the latest version of their autonomous, mobile robot. Essentially, this bot combines the dexterity of a humanoid and the intelligence of an AI model to learn and then execute everyday tasks. In the video, you’ll see Mobile ALOHA do everything from cooking shrimp, to calling elevators, to cleaning up messes, to giving (totally not creepy) high-fives to humans. Seriously, check out this post of all the things the robot can do. One of the big findings in the research behind Mobile ALOHA is that demonstrating behaviors alongside standard AI training leads to a massive jump in the robots ability to autonomously complete complex tasks.
Today it can learn to cook up some shrimp, tomorrow we could train it to complete any number of complex tasks that we flesh humans no longer want to do.
Ruth Liao for Bloomberg
The US has become the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas for the first time, with 2023 shipments overtaking leading suppliers Australia and Qatar.
At Not Boring, we talk a lot about the clean energy transition — the rise of solar, advancements in batteries, the increased interest in fission, and the opportunity of fusion. We talk less about natural gas, and that's probably a mistake because American’s liquid natural gas production is probably the biggest story in energy over the last 5 years. Today, the U.S. exports nearly 100 million metric tons of LNG, ranking it the top exporter in the world. But as little as 7 years ago, the U.S. barely did any exporting of LNG. So what changed and why is it important?
The what changed question is easy: advancements in shale fracking led to a significant increase in natural gas production in the U.S., creating a surplus that enabled us to export. The why is it important question has a multipronged answer:
Energy Independence: Increased natural gas production reduces U.S. dependence on foreign oil and gas. This independence allows the U.S. to have greater control over its energy resources and reduces our need to go fight wars over oil.
Reduced Costs + Economic Growth: A surplus of natural gas leads to lower energy prices domestically. The boom in the industry has also led to job creation and economic growth.
Environmental Impact: LNG isn’t as clean as solar or wind, but it is certainly much cleaner than coal or oil
Let’s do a lot more LNG production and exporting in the upcoming years while we build up the capabilities necessary to execute an abundant clean energy transition.
Brian Heater for TechCrunch
MIT likens a new vibrating capsule to drinking a glass full of water prior to eating. Dieticians recommend the latter as a method for sending signals to your brain to simulate the sensation of being full. The researchers behind the new project further suggest it as a future alternative to surgery and GLP-1s.
This news dropped right before the holidays, but was picked up in the media again yesterday. A team at MIT released findings on a new “vibrating capsule” that mimics drinking a full glass of water prior to eating, thereby creating the sensation of being full. The capsule seems to have the same effects as GLP-1s like Ozempic and Wegovy, in that it decreases hunger and ramps up the digestion process. Early animal studies of the capsule report a 40% decline in food consumption. The capsule provides and alterative to current weight-loss methodologies that is potentially more effective, less invasive, and not as cost prohibitive.
We talk about this a lot here at Not Boring, but we truly think obesity will be a thing of the past in the US in the next couple of years. That’s not only good for the folks that suffer from obesity, but it’s also good for everyone else — it means lower healthcare costs and higher productivity rates.
Wang et al
With copper-substituted lead apatite below room temperature, we observe diamagnetic dc magnetization under magnetic field of 25 Oe with remarkable bifurcation between zero-field-cooling and field-cooling measurements, and under 200 Oe it changes to be paramagnetism. A glassy memory effect is found during cooling. Typical hysteresis loops for superconductors are detected below 250 K, along with an asymmetry between forward and backward sweep of magnetic field. Our experiment suggests at room temperature the Meissner effect is possibly present in this material.
OK, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here….but we have a POSSIBLE MEISSNER EFFECT…AGAIN! If you recall, back in July of 2023, a South Korean team claimed to have discovered a room-temperature superconductor called LK-99, which was said to exhibit superconducting properties. However, subsequent replication efforts fell short and the material’s flow was found to resemble a semiconductor rather than a superconductor, and the Meissner effect was suggested to actually be a diamagnetic response. The eventual findings were a bummer, but the real-time, world-wide replication process the research kicked off was exhilarating. For a couple of days, the world was treating LK-99 replication like it was the finals of the World Cup. And no doubt, that attention and hype drove more resources and researchers towards trying to actually replicate the Meissner effect at room temperature.
We can’t speak to the credibility or validity of this most recent paper. We’re sure much more will come out over the coming days on that front. But as Packy posted, “The great thing about the Room Temperature Superconductor thing is that at worst, it's fun like sports are fun, and at best, it's fun like the Industrial Revolution was fun.”
From Fred Wilson
To sum it all up, we are in a golden era of innovation with AI and Web3 leading to a new more intelligent, resilient and decentralized Internet and the emergence of a new energy stack which will power our lives new ways that will not continue to warm our planet. There are opportunities every which way I look to back founders and founding teams building these new technologies. I think 2024 is going to be a terrific year for tech.
Fred Wilson, of Union Square Ventures fame, published his 2024 predictions on his OG VC blog, avc.xyz. Wilson notes that he “has never seen an environment with more innovation in the forty years (he) have been in the tech sector.” That’s high praise for an investor who has lived and invested through the rollout of the internet, ecommerce, social media, cloud, and more. Below, we’re consolidating his 5 main predictions for 2024:
Capital Markets and Innovation Economy: Stabilization and growth in capital markets will bolster a thriving innovation economy, supported by groundbreaking advancements in technology. Capital + innovation…yum yum!
Artificial Intelligence Evolution: AI growth will be driven by the emergence of new applications, enhanced legacy systems, and an be accompanied by increased legal and regulatory challenges.
Web3 Advancements and Regulatory Adaptation: Web3 will produce its first mainstream application. AI and web3 will bolster each other. Crypto will finally get some clear regulatory guidance.
Energy Transition and Environmental Urgency: The clean energy transition will be driven by global warming concerns, leading to new solutions in energy generation, storage, and smarter distribution systems.
Venture Capital Landscape Shifts: Despite the soft landing and broader innovation environment, the VC industry will face a period of adjustment and relatively low growth.
(BONUS) Choose optimism
From Steph Ango
Only optimists can create a great future. Only optimists can imagine it. Only optimists will put in the effort to make it. If you want to create a great future, believe it can happen. Choose optimism.
To close out the Weekly Dose, we’re leaving you with this short but aphorism-filled essay from Steph Ango on his transition from a pessimist to and optimist. No additional commentary needed. Go spend two minutes and read the essay.
Choose optimism 🤝.
That’s all for this week. We’ll be back in your inbox on Tuesday.
Thanks for reading,
Dan + Packy