Friday 22nd March 2019
  • Being An Instagram Influencer Is Hard Work, So This Guy Made A Bot To Do It For Him


    Chris Buetti had a problem: Dining out in New York was getting too expensive. He saw was one obvious solution - becoming an Instagram influencer and asking restaurants to give him free meals to post about them - but that process would be time-consuming and require annoying soft skills like “being good at taking photos" and "creating content people enjoy." Anyway, he already had a job.

    So Buetti, a data scientist by trade, decided to use his actual skills and automate the hard work of influencing by writing a program that recruited an audience of 25,000 (by autofollowing their accounts in hopes of getting a follow back), and reposted photographers' eye-catching photos of New York City for his growing entourage to engage with ("????great shot?," one person commented). Poof: @beautiful.newyorkcity was born - an active, popular, and 100% artificial Instagram account. For Buetti, it's the perfect solution if you don't want to actually dedicate time to curating an online following, but still want to score free spaghetti from restaurants seeking publicity. His program even finds restaurant accounts in New York, and sends them direct messages offering to promote them to followers in exchange for a comped meal - and no, it does not disclose that @beautiful.newyorkcity is run by a robot.

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  • How to hack the freeconomy


    I have come to realise, however, that I am nothing but a novice. One popular route to free riches involves a "referral code", which gives each person who uses it a credit for helping secure new customers. Felix, who runs a startup in San Francisco, has taken this to extremes. He accomplished what he calls his "Bay Area hack" by buying around $600 in advertisements on Google and placing his referral code from Uber in each ad. He spent hours fine-tuning his approach until his ads often had a higher click-through rate than Uber's own. For each person who signed up to Uber's service through his ad, he received a credit. He eventually amassed $30,000 in credits, which allowed him to ride around the city in Uber's cars and eat three meals a day from UberEats, the company's food-delivery service, for a whole year without paying a cent.

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  • Skies Aren't Clogged With Drones, but Don't Rule Them Out Yet


    If you've been worrying that drones would be filling the skies over your head, dropping packages off day after day at your neighbor's house, leaving food on doorsteps or photographing your every move, you can relax a little. At least for now.

    The hype over commercial drones is, so far, largely just that. One of the people who contributed to that hype was Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder. In a "60 Minutes" interview in December 2013, he predicted that deliveries by drones could become commonplace within five years.

    The fifth anniversary of Mr. Bezos's prediction has come and gone, but widespread deliveries by drone are not yet a reality, neither by Amazon nor by any other company.

    Regulatory thickets, technical complexity and the public's skittishness have proven to be formidable hurdles. At a minimum, the unresolved issues include whether it is safe to allow drones to fly beyond a pilot's visual line of sight, to operate at night and to fly over people.

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  • Deepmind and Google: the battle to control artificial intelligence


    One afternoon in August 2010, in a conference hall perched on the edge of San Francisco Bay, a 34-year-old Londoner called Demis Hassabis took to the stage. Walking to the podium with the deliberate gait of a man trying to control his nerves, he pursed his lips into a brief smile and began to speak: "So today I'm going to be talking about different approaches to building..." He stalled, as though just realising that he was stating his momentous ambition out loud. And then he said it: "AGI".

    AGI stands for artificial general intelligence, a hypothetical computer program that can perform intellectual tasks as well as, or better than, a human. AGI will be able to complete discrete tasks, such as recognising photos or translating languages, which are the single-minded focus of the multitude of artificial intelligences (AIs) that inhabit our phones and computers. But it will also add, subtract, play chess and speak French. It will also understand physics papers, compose novels, devise investment strategies and make delightful conversation with strangers. It will monitor nuclear reactions, manage electricity grids and traffic flow, and effortlessly succeed at everything else. AGI will make today's most advanced AIs look like pocket calculators.

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  • First Principles: The Building Blocks of True Knowledge


    First-principles thinking is one of the best ways to reverse-engineer complicated problems and unleash creative possibility. Sometimes called "reasoning from first principles," the idea is to break down complicated problems into basic elements and then reassemble them from the ground up. It's one of the best ways to learn to think for yourself, unlock your creative potential, and move from linear to non-linear results.

    This approach was used by the philosopher Aristotle and is used now by Elon Musk and Charlie Munger. It allows them to cut through the fog of shoddy reasoning and inadequate analogies to see opportunities that others miss.

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  • The Financial Upside of Being an Optimist


    Under the weight of chronic stress at work, optimists are winning.

    It's hard to escape the fact that chronic stress is one of the greatest threats to well-being in modern times. In a report published by The National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health, 75% of workers say they are more stressed than the previous generation, and 40% place themselves on the high end of the stress spectrum. In a large-scale study of more than 11,000 people, researcher Shawn Achor and I found that 91% of people had maladaptive responses to stress that exacerbated circumstances and decreased well-being. In the face of this mounting reality, some argue that chronic stress is a "modern day birthright." It is not. Chronic stress is a trap we've fallen into - one that we can get out of with intentionality.

    An antidote to chronic stress is cultivating an optimistic mindset - and it serves us well over the course of our careers. In a new study I conducted in partnership with Frost Bank, we found that when it comes to money, optimists are more likely to make smart moves and reap the benefits.

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  • The Art Of High-Value Productivity: Three Lessons From Woody Allen


    As the productivity guru, Cal Newport - the best selling author of deep work - suggests, if we are to go high on the ladder of achievement we have to consistently produce high-value results.

    Producing-high value results require that in our lists, we give the priorities to the items that end up producing a valuable and precious outcome.

    If you are an academic person, it would mean that you spend most of the time deeply devouring academic papers and reflecting on them.

    If you are a writer, it means that you must designate the majority of your time writing (instead of getting wrapped up with the trivialities such as growing your twitter account).

    Woody Allen is a shining embodiment of high-value productivity. He has written and directed 44 movies in 44 years and has earned 23 Academy Award nominations along the way. So let’s explore what we can learn from him.

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  • When You Are Overwhelmed By The Pressure To Find Your Passion


    We are constantly being told to pursue our passions in life, but there are times when passion is a TALL ORDER, and really hard to reach. But curiosity, I have found, is always within reach.

    Passion is a tower of flame, but curiosity is a tiny tap on the shoulder - a little whisper in the ear that says, "Hey, that's kind of interesting..."
    Passion is rare; curiosity is everyday.
    Curiosity is therefore a lot easier to reach at at times than full-on passion - and the stakes are lower, easier to manage.
    The trick is to just follow your small moments of curiosity. It doesn't take a massive effort.

    Just turn your head an inch. Pause for a instant. Respond to what has caught your attention. Look into it a bit. Is there something there for you? A piece of information?

    I literally stopped in my tracks.

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  • Why Conspiracy Theories Work so Well on Facebook


    Panic attacks were common. Employees joked about suicide, had sex in the stairwells, and smoked weed on break.

    A disturbing investigative report by the Verge last week revealed that some of Facebook's contract moderators - who are tasked with keeping content like beheadings, bestiality, and racism out of your news feed - have turned to extreme coping mechanisms to get through the workday. Some contractors have been profoundly impacted by the content they're exposed to, which may have implications for the rest of us who have grown accustomed to scrolling past sketchy links in our news feeds.

    For some workers, repeatedly viewing conspiracy videos and memes became a gateway to embracing conspiracy theories themselves. Contractors told the Verge's Casey Newton that some of their peers would "embrace fringe views" after days spent combing through conspiracy videos and memes.

    "One auditor walks the floor promoting the idea that the Earth is flat," Newton wrote.

    Because most misinformation isn't banned by the platform's rules, Facebook generally won't remove it outright, arguing instead that it should be countered with factual reports. Such efforts have not been totally successful: A recent article in the Guardian found that "search results for groups and pages with information about vaccines were dominated by anti-vaccination propaganda" on the social network.

    Continued here

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  • Why These Founders Gave Their Suppliers and Manufacturers a Piece of the Company


    Shira Berk had spent most of her career as a publicist, but in 2010 she started making gluten-free cookies and selling them at her children's preschool. The side hustle took off. Five years later she was operating her brand, Goodie Girl Cookies, out of a commercial kitchen, selling $25,000 in product a year, and she wanted to go bigger -- fast. "I didn't want to take the time to raise the money and go on all the interviews with all the incubators," she says. As it happens, a manufacturer, Greg Toufayan, of the bakery company Toufayan, wanted to get into the startup game. So they came up with a plan: Toufayan would invest in Goodie Girl and focus on production, logistics, and financing, and Berk would focus on sales and brand building.

    Does Berk miss having full ownership of Goodie Girl? Nope. "It has given me the ability to do things I never thought I'd be able to do," she says. In one year, sales shot to $1 million. "I'm able to go into retailers and say, 'I'm partners with one of the largest bakeries in the U.S. -- what do you need?'" Once, Walmart's buyer requested a gluten-free fudge-stripe cookie. Goodie Girl whipped up a batch and sent it to Walmart within weeks. The buyer loved it. Today, Goodie Girl’s national sales exceed $10 million.

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