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Thursday 19 August 2021

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

1. The Nvidia CEO you saw presenting was a deepfake!!
Earlier this year, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang stood in his kitchen and delivered a press conference for the company's latest technology. But although one particular part of the keynote looked identical to the rest, it was very different: The kitchen, the CEO and even his leather jacket were entirely computer generated.

Like many companies, Nvidia has switched to online "virtual" press conferences during the coronavirus pandemic. Huang has broadcast several announcements from his kitchen, which meant no one saw anything different in April's GTC keynote presentation discussing the Nvidia Omniverse system. 

Known for its graphics cards, the company used the keynote event to show off its Omniverse tools for creating 3D virtual worlds. Engineers did a full face and body scan of the CEO to create a 3D model of Huang, then programmed it to mimic his gestures and expressions. This CG clone delivered part of the keynote speech, seamlessly transitioning from the real thing.

2. The Metaverse is coming
The word "metaverse" is a portmanteau of the prefix "meta" (meaning beyond) and "universe"; the term is typically used to describe the concept of a future iteration of the internet, made up of persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe. Currently, you can only experience the internet when you go to it, but with new connectivity, devices and technologies, we’ll be able to experience it all around every single day. 

Today, the metaverse is a shared virtual space where people are represented by digital avatars. The virtual world constantly grows and evolves based on the decisions and actions of the society within it. Eventually, people will be able to enter the metaverse, completely virtually (i.e. with virtual reality) or interact with parts of it in their physical space with the help of augmented and mixed reality.

Companies will need to transition their marketing strategies from online ad buys to existing in a shared, virtual economy. Companies will need to do market research on their new customers in the metaverse. How people act and what their preferences are in the metaverse could be totally different than how they behave and what they shop for in real life. Add to that the layer of business to robot to consumer, where virtual assistants and robots own the relationship with the consumer and it all starts to make sense. 

3. Dental cavities are a transmissible, infectious disease!!!
Mouth bacteria are connected to cavities because of the tiny creatures’ digestive process. Cavity bugs feed on bits of sugar and carbs stuck to your teeth. The bacteria ferment those things, creating natural acids that start to dissolve the tooth enamel, similar to how water combines with carbon dioxide to dissolve limestone in a cave.

“You can take an animal that naturally develops cavities and feed it a high-sugar diet, and it will get cavities. And if you house it with animals that seem to be naturally resistant to cavities, they will then develop cavities,” he said. Cavities, in other words, are a transmissible, infectious disease.

Scientists know a handful of surefire ways to make your oral microbiome healthier. You have to brush twice a day, floss, use mouthwash and eat a diet low in sugars and refined carbohydrates. Those activities change the pH levels in your mouth making an environment that is less acidic and more friendly to the kinds of bacteria that aren’t associated with cavity formation. Decreasing the acidity also helps promote remineralization — basically the process of your teeth fixing themselves. The opposite of this advice — eating a lot of sugar and not reliably cleaning your teeth — creates an environment that is more friendly to streptococcus mutans and its buddies. 

4. Saving and spending less may be easier than trying to earn more
Investment returns have a lot of potential to make you rich and achieve your goals. But whether a strategy will work, and how long it will work for, and whether markets will cooperate, is always a question.

Personal savings and frugality – finance’s conservation and efficiency – are parts of the money equation that are largely in your control and have a 100% chance at being as effective in the future as they are today.

If we have the same assets and I can earn an 8% annual returns, and you can earn 12% annual returns, but I need half as much money to be happy while your lifestyle compounds as fast as your assets, I’m better off than you are. I’m getting more benefit from my investments despite lower returns.

The hard part is becoming satisfied with spending less. It’s not easy. It’s a behavioural trait, not analytical skill, and investing attracts more of the latter. 

5. Try on clothes on your digital avatar
AR clothing try-on, both more complicated and more lucrative than its counterparts in cosmetics and accessories, has been elusive. After years of development, that’s now changing, and fast. For fashion brands, this could unlock digital clothing sales, increase conversions and decrease e-commerce returns. 

AR clothing try-on generally refers to the ability for three-dimensional digital clothing to automatically appear on a person as they move in real time, usually either via their phones but also via laptop or other devices. Unlike a static image that is retroactively fitted in a digital garment, it behaves the same way as Snapchat face filters: when your body moves, the item reacts in sync, responding to the wearer’s movements, measurements and environment in a way that appears to be realistic.

Recent examples offer a glimpse of just how far this has come on the design side. This month, during Paris Couture Fashion Week, designer Clara Daguin “wore” a digital version of her Jacquard by Google-imbedded designs on Instagram, created through a partnership with digital clothing marketplace DressX. 

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