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Thursday, 12 September 2019

Weekly Reading - Some Interesting Stuff


1) A Santa Monica Tech Startup Has “Hacked” Meditation
Extraordinary experiences are the norm at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica, a gymlike facility devoted to biohacking—“the art and science of becoming superhuman". The propagation of Upgrade Labs is part of a mission, according to CEO Martin Tobias, to bring the wellness-boosting fringe technology employed by pro athletes and the ultrarich to the (relatively affluent) masses. At $50 a pop for an individual hack or five grand for a curated “stack” of therapies, options include atmospheric cell training, pulsed electromagnetic field pick-me-ups, cryotherapy, and vitamin cocktails designed for injection straight into your veins.
Of all the treatments, though, the lab’s waterless virtual float tank is perhaps the most intriguing. The contraption stimulates relaxation and creative drive by, essentially, syncing your brain waves. The eyeshade is fitted with pulsing LEDs that blast white light through your closed eyelids. The headphones pump out binaural beats. The whole experience begins as sensory overload, but, for some at least, it eases into a profoundly relaxing, mentally rejuvenating experience. All this occurs because, purportedly, the rhythms of light and sound bombarding your sensory organs are specifically attuned to encourage one elusive thing: the production of theta waves in your brain.

2) An interview with Alibaba Group chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang
The other important thing is that they tend to spend more. China is famous for being a high-savings-rate society, but the younger generation are more willing to improve their lifestyle through spending, and that presents huge opportunities. In this digital era, when we talk about Alibaba’s future, we focus on helping our business partners win through successful digital transformation, rather than about how we can make ourselves even stronger. When small businesses can grow faster and grow healthier, it will benefit the whole society. As the Chinese economy transforms into a consumption-driven economy, Alibaba has a huge opportunity to understand consumers’ changing needs. We help connect the whole world with China to facilitate easy trading and access to the world’s largest consumer market.


3) Mixed reports on the efficacy of diet soda
A new study that found prodigious consumers of artificially sweetened drinks were 26 percent more likely to die prematurely than those who rarely drank sugar-free beverages.
Chemical sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose have also been extensively studied, with little evidence that they negatively impact human health, according to the F.D.A.
Still, many scientists say more research is needed to determine the long-term effects of consuming artificial sweeteners.

4) Data analytics is now big in sports
Days before the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup began in May, media reports said the Indian cricket team had signed a deal with StatSports, a Northern Ireland-based performance tracking and analysis company. It produces a small device that sits between the shoulder blades on an athlete’s back, worn in a vest under the jersey. The device measures metrics such as distance covered, speed, acceleration, deceleration, and dynamic stress load. It allows the coach and support staff to analyse and record data about the players’ movements and manage their workload.

5) Is SoftBank a Ponzi scheme?
Using the valuations which are largely concocted by SoftBank themselves (since they’ve often been leading the financings of these “unicorns” and it is the last round of investment capital which is often the metric used for valuing these things), they’re looking to front-run IPOs and get out.
The entire “growth” story, which is to say companies that can continuously grow market share (preferably at a loss) looks to be rolling over.
It’s the classic Ponzi scheme. You always need fresh new capital to pay off the old capital in order for the scheme to continue. When there is no fresh new money, everything reverses and folks quickly realise the value of positive cash flow.

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