Introducing Lex!

Here’s everything we published this week.

Sooooooooo we have some news… 

We’re building a word processor! It’s called Lex, and it uses AI to create a mind-blowing writing experience. We started building it to see if it could be useful for our writers, but over the past month Lex has truly transformed our writing process, so we decided to share it with everyone.

Nathan recorded a quick demo video you can watch here to see how it works.

Here’s what some of our friends had to say about it:

We will be rolling out invitations in the coming days and weeks, so if you’d like to try it, click here and sign up to join the waitlist. Priority will be given to paid Every subscribers, so if you want to skip the line, subscribe!

And with that, on to this week’s posts!

This week, we’ve got posts on the metaverse, the AI value chain, and more.


Will the Metaverse Replace PCs? 

Nathan Baschez/ Divinations

When proponents think about barriers to metaverse adoption, they tend to assume the blockers are purely technical—that once problems like headset weight and battery life are solved, laptops and PCs will disappear and the metaverse will become the default screen paradigm of choice. Skeptics, on the other hand, aren’t convinced, arguing that no matter how sophisticated the technology becomes, it will neve succeed in sparking widespread behavior change. 

So which group is right? Is the metaverse our collective digital future? Or will the technology fail to transcend niche use cases like gaming? Nathan investigates. 

Read.

Who Wins the AI Value Chain? 

Evan Armstrong / Napkin Math

Of all the fun questions one can ask about AI, one of the most pertinent is, “Who will ultimately benefit the most from all of this new technology?” Will the tech giants of today be able to hold onto their dominance? Or will the little guy be able to harness AI’s potential to upend the current power structure? 

In order to get to the bottom of this, we need to first understand how the AI value chain operates, and who the various players are that sit along that value chain. From there, we can forecast which types of AI companies and products will be successful—which is what Evan sets out to do in this post. 

Read.


This week on Ordinary Astronauts: Lex!

Dan and Nathan discuss the origins of Lex, why we are building it, what it is like to write on, and more! Then we transition into a general convo about the state of AI.


A Business Insight for the Week

This week, Meta announced their new, $1,500 VR headset, geared towards working professionals. (Nathan did a great job analyzing the likelihood of the success if you haven’t checked it out yet.) One of the things that makes Meta’s VR play so fascinating is that so much of the risk is scientific. To make the product popular, they’ll have to fundamentally advance battery and monitor technology far past where it currently is.

To better understand where the blockers were, we used this interview from our partner Tegus, with a former Meta VR employee. They explain where some of the issues are:

Tegus: And how heavy are the devices? So, if I put on a VR headset, how heavy is it?

Former Employee at Facebook: So right now, they're going to be more than 100 grams. And I think the magic number is 80 grams. I think that's what the research has said. But you're trying to bring them below 80 grams and you'll get into that comfort zone. So right now, they are between 100 and 150 grams in that range. The premium-tier devices, they're getting really low. You find them up to 200 grams or so. I mean they're getting lighter and lighter.

Tegus: Well, you're saying the devices are 100 grams. That means they're incredibly light. That's like lighter than my cellphone probably.

Former Employee at Facebook: Yes, and it's not light enough, they have to go lighter.

Tegus Client: Can they? Can they get it down to 80 grams?

Former Employee at Facebook: They potentially can. So, there are problems today. I think this is where they are running into the limits of science. And there needs to be some technology advancements. And they are in many, many different vertical domains. And there is an element of display, the display technology. There's an element of process technology, how the silicon is being manufactured so that it doesn't dissipate enough heat. And between these two, I think, are the biggest barriers on why they are still heavy or they're not light enough.

And when it comes to and just to complete that part, you want that advanced process node so that your thermal dissipation is low. So today, most of these advanced devices have a fan. So, they use a fan for cooling. They have a higher surface area so that they can dissipate more heat. And it houses a typically larger battery to get your device running for a decent amount of time. And all of these are contributors to not having a light-enough device. Can they get lighter? Yes. But there are some technical challenges to address there.

Tegus Client: Okay. All right. But you're saying it's possible to be able to get it down, but it's not guaranteed they'll get it to 80 grams, but they might get it.

Former Employee at Facebook: Yes. Exactly. I mean some of these questions haven't been answered.


A Few More Recommendations

Social vs. Science Experiments | Not Boring

If The Discourse is to be believed, web3 is dead and AI is the future of innovation in tech. In this essay, Packy McCormick explains why comparing the two is comparing apples to oranges—and how each follows a distinct progress curve. 

The GIF Is On Its Deathbed | The Atlantic

You may have heard that GIFs have been proclaimed “for Boomers” and “cringe.” But Kaitlyn Tiffany argues that the file format’s situation is far more dire—in fact, that its very existence is under threat. 

Joe Rogan interviews Steve Jobs | Podcast.ai

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the show,” says Steve Jobs at the beginning of this conversation with Joe Rogan. The only problem: Jobs never appeared on Joe Rogan. This entire conversation was generated using AI. It’s an interesting benchmark in how far AI’s capabilities have evolved to date. 

Interview: J. Storrs Hall on getting lost in stagnation | Works in Progress

In his book Where is My Flying Car? J. Storrs Hall makes an effort to answer the question on many of our minds: why has innovation stagnated?  In this interview, Hall joins Stripe Press’s Tamara Winter to talk about just that. 


That’s all for this week! 

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