radical Insights.

Weekly Research and Commentary on the Future of Business and Technology.

Strong Opinions Weakly Held.

Oct 18, 2022

Dear Friend,

This week saw Mark Zuckerberg’s legs (finally) appear in Meta’s VR world Horizon — alas, those weren’t his legs but an “artist rendering” of what legs in Horizon might look like. The Internet went upside down over this — and in more than one way, it is reminiscent of Magic Leap’s CGI trickery a few years back …

Read on to why we ought to keep our distance when it comes to the latest tech announcements, our weekly insight into the thin wisps of tomorrow, and the conundrum of why you can’t tickle yourself.

Practical Futurism // Decode. Disrupt. Transform.

The last few months have been an interesting ride when it comes to the rapid (or not so rapid) development of technology. Text-to-Image AI systems such as Stable Diffusion have taken huge leaps, with new developments seemingly being announced daily. VR, on the other hand, had a lot of exciting announcements but (still) little to show for it.

All of this reminds me to sage advice from my dear friend and colleague Jeffrey Rogers: Keep a safe distance — and seek disconfirmation.

Our colleague Paul Saffo kept reminding us that we ought to have “strong opinions — weakly held” or, in other words, “beliefs are hypotheses to be tested, not treasures to be protected.” Especially when it comes to today’s tech hype cycle, it is incredibly important to keep your distance and continuously challenge your thinking. One of the best ways we found to do so is to ask, “how could we be wrong?” (or more direct: “How would I know if it’s BS?”)

It’s a refreshing question as it allows you to step away from the noise, reflect from an elevated position, and see the forest for the trees. (via Pascal)

What We Are Reading

🫰 What Happens When a Company (Like Patagonia) Transfers Ownership to a Nonprofit? Patagonia will now be run by a nonprofit foundation. In the US, that appears highly unusual, but around the world, it’s more common than you think. As more businesses become conscious of their impact - what should for-profit companies do to consider social responsibility? JaneRead

✍️ Research: Simple Writing Pays Off (Literally) Do you write a newsletter, or do you share company reports with shareholders? Contrary to what you might think, simple writing yields the best results. Complex wording is off-putting and will leave people uninterested or simply not reading at all. MafeRead

💾 Why Are People Biased Against New Technology? Recent research seems to confirm a specific status quo bias with regard to technology. We tend to look more favorably on the technologies of the world we were born into and view with increasing skepticism techs introduced as we grow older. JeffreyRead

✈️ Airlines Say They Are Green, but the Industry Fights Emissions Rules Examples like these highlight the difference that can exist between customer-facing behavior and real actions behind the scenes. JulianRead

👶 The great regression An utterly fascinating look into why more and more adults act like children — and we are not talking about our politicians. PascalRead

The Thin Wisps of Tomorrow

🧠 Wow! Mouse and Human Brain Cells in a Lab Dish Learn to Play Video Game Pong.

🧑‍🎨 Leave It up to Damian Hirst to Figure Out How NFTs Actually Work.

🏅 The Future of Coaching: Algorithms Predict Sports Team Moves with 80% Accuracy.

🫢 Surprise, Surprise: Authors’ Names Have ‘Astonishing’ Influence on Peer Reviewers.

🏎️ Vroom Vroom! Students Break Acceleration World Record.

🛰️ Gorgeous Visualization of Low Earth Orbit Satellites.

🚂 Why Wasn’t the Steam Engine Invented Earlier?

🗒️ Things You Didn’t Know: On the Proper Use of Post-Its

Internet Finds

Neuroscientists Unravel the Mystery of Why You Can’t Tickle Yourself. 👣

In Case You Missed It

🏴‍☠️ The Heretic: Nobody Knows Anything Anyway

🧨 Disrupt Disruption: We got to speak with Natasha Gedge, COO at Signal and former Chief Operating Officer of the UK Ministry of Defence’s most successful innovation team. In our conversation, Natasha and I explore her approach to innovation in a highly complex and interdependent environment, why and how organizations fail and what to do about it. Listen now.

Radically yours, take good care, friend!

— Pascal, Mafe, Vivian and the three Js (Jane, Jeffrey, and Julian)