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Thursday, 13 August 2020

Weekend Reading

Reading across disciplines is one of the best ways to improve our investment acumen. Here is a summary of some of the best articles I read this week.

I especially try to not post Corona related articles as that is all one gets to read in all traditional media.

 

If you like the collection this consider forwarding it to someone who you think will appreciate.


How a Canadian convenience store giant built its empire

Having started in 1980 as a single store, Couche-Tard (pronounced “koosh-tar,” it means “late sleeper” or “night owl” in French) now owns or licenses more than 14,500 “cstores” in a network that spans North America and Northern Europe, with outposts in Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Couche-Tard took in $54 billion in sales in its 2020 fiscal year, making it Canada’s third-biggest company. But the U.S. accounts for 70% of its revenue, and its stateside footprint could get bigger.

The company posits that gas-station retail can be quality retail, with higher-margin merchandise: It doesn’t have to be day-old coffee and endless beef jerky. At hundreds of stores in the U.S. and Canada, the company is bringing in fresher food, installing espresso machines, and stocking wines that cost up to $50 a bottle. In Canada, where recreational marijuana use is legal, Couche-Tard is even exploring cannabis retail. Couche-Tard is attracting a customer into their stores who’s not necessarily going in to fill up their gas tank.

https://fortune.com/2020/08/10/couche-tard-gas-station-convenience-stores-biggest-canadian-companies/

 

The AI fear all over again - will man get superseded by machines?

True artificial intelligence, if it is realized, might pose a danger that exceeds every previous threat from technology—even nuclear weapons—and that if its development is not managed carefully humanity risks engineering its own extinction. Central to this concern is the prospect of an “intelligence explosion,” a speculative event in which an A.I. gains the ability to improve itself, and in short order exceeds the intellectual potential of the human brain by many orders of magnitude.

Such a system would effectively be a new kind of life, and in their simplest form, are evolutionary: that humanity will unexpectedly become outmatched by a smarter competitor. He sometimes notes, as a point of comparison, the trajectories of people and gorillas: both primates, but with one species dominating the planet and the other at the edge of annihilation. “Before the prospect of an intelligence explosion, we humans are like small children playing with a bomb,” he concludes. “We have little idea when the detonation will occur, though if we hold the device to our ear we can hear a faint ticking sound.”

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/11/23/doomsday-invention-artificial-intelligence-nick-bostrom

 

How all coffee shops are beginning to look the same across the world

As an affluent, self-selecting group of people move through spaces linked by technology, particular sensibilities spread, and these small pockets of geography grow to resemble one another, as Schwarzmann discovered: the coffee roaster Four Barrel in San Francisco looks like the Australian Toby’s Estate in Brooklyn looks like The Coffee Collective in Copenhagen looks like Bear Pond Espresso in Tokyo. You can get a dry cortado with perfect latte art at any of them, then Instagram it on a marble countertop and further spread the aesthetic to your followers.

This confluence of style is being accelerated by companies that foster a sense of placelessness, using technology to break down geography.

https://www.theverge.com/2016/8/3/12325104/airbnb-aesthetic-global-minimalism-startup-gentrification

 

What happens if you complain every day?

Our brain possesses something called the negativity bias. In simple terms, negativity bias is the brain’s tendency to focus more on negative circumstances than positive. Dr. Rick Hanson, a neuroscientist and author of Buddha’s Brain, explains negativity bias: “Negative stimuli produce more neural activity than do equally intensive positive ones. They are also perceived more easily and quickly.” Repetition is the mother of all learning. When we repeatedly focus on the negative by complaining, we’re firing and re-firing the neurons responsible for the negativity bias. It’s not possible to be “happy-go-lucky” all of the time. We should, however, take concrete steps to counteract negative thinking.

Research has repeatedly shown that meditation and mindfulness are perhaps the most powerful tools for combating negativity.

https://educateinspirechange.org/science-technology/science-explains-what-happens-to-someones-brain-from-complaining-every-day/

 

Use the internet, but with caution. You are getting Googlified

Our internet usage has “Googlified” our brains, making us more dependent on knowing where to access facts and less able to remember the facts themselves. This might sound a little depressing, but it makes perfect sense if we are making the most of the tools and resources available to us. Who needs to waste their mental resources on remembering that an “ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain,” when the internet can tell us at a moment’s notice? Let’s save our brains for more important problems.

Photographs also have transformative effects on the way our memories work. Photographs can be a great way to physically save a moment into your collection, and cameras may help visual memory if used as a tool to enhance how you engage with an experience. But don’t let them come at the expense of your own enjoyment and natural memory of the real thing in front of you. It’s counterproductive and a little bizarre to take photos of the world’s wonders, but forget to look at them while they’re actually there. A 2009 study showed that people who heavily engage in multiple forms of media at the same time (e.g., talking on the phone, while working on an essay, while listening to music, while watching TV), perform worse in standardized cognitive tests that measure memory, attention, and task-switching.

Recent studies even suggest that children who use the internet excessively may develop less gray and white matter volume in certain brain areas, and may harm their verbal intelligence. It is not yet clear if internet usage directly causes these effects or if children who are predisposed to the effects are just more likely to overuse the internet. For now, the evidence provides notes of caution and attention rather than conclusive insights.

https://medium.com/s/story/how-the-internet-is-changing-your-brain-756e3de7c6b6






 

Disclaimer: Abhishek Basumallick is the Head of the equity advisory www.intelsense.in for long term wealth creation and a pure quant focused newsletter at www.quantamental.in. The blog posts should not be construed as investment advice. Please do your own due diligence before investing.

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