Crossing the AI Rubicon

A chatbot for founders, better social network, crypto true believer, and more

Via Lucas Crespo.

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Hello, and happy Sunday! 

We launched a GPT bot, Founder’s Friend, that we think can solve a significant problem for founders: the profound loneliness of startup life. Founder’s Friend is a voice-first chatbot that provides a safe space for founders to have conversations they can’t have with employees, investors, or friends. Try it out and let us know what you think in the comments. 

Now, on to everything we published this week, along with our take on the latest tech and business news.


Our stories

"How I Use ChatGPT (As a Reasonable Person)" by Evan Armstrong/Napkin Math: AI is both overhyped and underutilized. Evan now believes that we have crossed the AI rubicon—he estimates a 20% productivity gain in his life over the last few months. Read this to get access to new tips, tools, and hacks to make ChatGPT useful for you. (You can also listen to the audio version of this story.)

"How to Build a Better Social Network" by Nir Zicherman: While most people agree that social media is, like, bad for humanity, very few people propose a fix for it. Nir Zicherman has come up with a novel points/decay system that he thinks could solve the problems of social. Read this if you like game theory, want something better than Facebook to exist, or if you enjoy charts. 

"AI-assisted Decision-making" by Dan Shipper/Chain of Thought: This week we both celebrated the first birthday of ChatGPT and mourned the death of Charlie Munger at age 99. Dan applies Munger’s timeless wisdom with the new technology to come up with a novel framework for decision-making. Read this to see how AI can be used in a very real way to improve yourself. 

"Why I’m Still Building in Web3" by Kevin Kim: If almost every major leader of your industry is in prison, you're either a drug dealer or in crypto. Most of the latter are heading for the hills of AI, but Kevin Kim is doubling down on. He is thoughtful, nuanced, and confident. Read this if you want to read an honest analysis of and reckoning with crypto’s continued potential.  

"ChatGPT for Writing and Recommending Books" by Dan Shipper/Chain of Thought: In the second episode of his new video show, Dan interviews Nat Eliason—a writer and forthcoming author, crypto trader, Roam Research aficionado, marketer, and book podcaster, among his other talents. He’s used ChatGPT to improve everything from his cooking to his new book. Read this to see how a pro is using AI to win. 

Chain of links

Inside OpenAI’s “Turkey-Shoot Clusterfuck.” The Power of Habit author Charles Duhigg was embedded at OpenAI during its five-day leadership drama, and he wrote all about it in the New Yorker. His reporting confirms what we’ve already heard: that the board fired Sam Altman because it found him “manipulative and conniving.” Read it and decide for yourself.

AI discovers millions of new materials for science. Google AI lab DeepMind fast-forwarded through 800 years of material science by discovering 2.2 million new crystal structures that could be used in everything from batteries to solar panels. I’ve been banging the table about AI’s potential to enable scientific progress for a while now. Expect this trend to continue in any field with large datasets and objective ways to evaluate whether the AI has discovered something valuable.

A new era of memes. Pika, an AI-generated video startup, launched with an announcement that it had raised $55 million from Lightspeed and others. Its generated videos quickly lit X on fire—an incredible new art form is emerging. Watch this AI-generated mashup of Elon Musk and Regis Philbin for a taste of where we’re heading. —Dan Shipper

The napkin math

GFY with poor ROAS. Elon Musk politely told advertisers to “go f–k yourselves'' over X boycotts. Our view is that advertisers don’t really care about anti-semitism. X’s (then Twitter’s) return on ad spend (ROAS) has always been bad, but the company made up for it by courting big brands that weren’t as focused on immediate returns. Advertisers who have fled the platform would come back if X actually built ad tech that worked (an argument I made in March 2022).

“Stripe needs to IPO for venture capital to work again.” A top-decile VC made this comment to me last week. The dearth of public market liquidity has cut off funding from earlier stage startups, but thankfully that is starting to change for more mature companies. Shein, Reddit, and now Panera Bread are all eyeing early 2024 IPOs.

Amazon gets deal-blocked. The other major source of liquidity in the tech ecosystem, M&A by tech giants, continues to be pooh-poohed upon by regulators. The latest deal that the EU is attempting to block is Amazon’s purchase of the Roomba robot vacuum’s parent company for $1.7 billion. Look, I don’t think big tech has some divine mandate enabling them to buy whatever they want, but they are a critical source of exits. The closing of this path means even fewer startups will get funded. —Evan Armstrong

The examined life

The walking cure. It’s that time of year for sweet, sweet, seasonal depression. To combat it, we’ve been dreaming of hikes in beautiful places. Kraig Adams’s YouTube videos of him solo hiking around Iceland have done the trick nicely. No dialogue, no problem.

Prophet protocol. Andrew Huberman recently revealed that he prays to God and reads the Bible. If you’re similarly prayer-curious but organized religion-phobic, a few suggestions. Get your feet wet with the introduction to Carl Sagan’s iconic TV series Cosmos, an elegant paean to the natural world. If you like that, pick up a copy of Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim, a Cosmos-inspired prayer book that keeps the Jesus to a minimum. —Dan and Evan


That’s all for this week.

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@The Moaniest Punk 7 months ago

When I was a kid, my parents had a Casio 'Clavinova.' You could feed it floppy disks, and it would thank you with a wonky midi rendition of 'Beat It,' which would delight me to no end. Now and then, when no one was home, I'd approach the keyboard with caution. I'd sit on the stool, a broken chair from the kitchen that was missing its back, carefully lift the lid, and with a big breath - slam my hands into the keys whilst jiggling my fingers around like spasmodic cocktail sausages for about 20 seconds, frantically up and down the keys. Strange, perhaps, but it seemed plausible that one day, through some accidental but no less alchemic mistake, I might wake up, bestowed with a prodigious gift - like Mozart! (I thought). Maybe I would even BE Mozart*.

But a few weeks ago, when I opened the ChatGPT app to find its STT/TTS integration, I glimpsed that feeling I sought as a child and could have cried with joy. That could be an overstatement, perhaps, but if it is, it's not by much. I find it hard to fathom the impact that ChatGPT has already had on my life. This is something, considering a historic personal aversion to emerging technologies. Combined with the fact that I'm pushing 40, the ease with which I've integrated it into almost every aspect of my routine is even more surprising.

Thank you for developing the 'Founder's Friend' GPT - over the hours I've been conversing with the app, this is the first time I've used it just to blow off a bit of steam—my blood pressure thanks you.

- The Moaniest Punk

P.S. Regarding the ChatGPT app's TTS 'Hold for manual control/release to send' button feature, I would love to know if anyone has had any success utilising an external controller with their iPhone, like a Bluetooth camera shutter release button, to control the release/send function. It's cold outside, and I want to keep my hands in my pockets and off my phone. The app often thinks I've finished speaking before I'm done. It clearly doesn't know me that well. For now.

* I knew of a bit of the Requiem, but I think Mozart was just a stand-in for someone very good at music. Although I was never bestowed with his gifts, I did end up practising a lot and had a career as a songwriter.

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