4 min read

Breakfast Notes #49 (Irony of Innovation)

Breakfast Notes #49 (Irony of Innovation)
Photo by Ashton Mullins / Unsplash

Good morning friends.

Here is what I want to share this week.

  • Quote of the Week. Winston Churchill was speaking at Harrow School, his alma mater, in 1941- 'This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.'
  • Advice of the Week. Jocko Willink on the power of 'default aggressive.'

Here is the 49th serving of the Breakfast Notes.

Reads Of The Week

Here are the reads of the week.

  • The Family That Mined the Pentagon's Data for Profit. Conventional wisdom states that the public is the greatest beneficiary when information is free. The reality is that the nature of information is so chaotic, technical and complex that the greatest beneficiary is the information resellers. Like meticulous archivists, they have everything you need at their fingertips within their catalogue. They reap huge profit margins, and you pay a huge price for the increased convenience.
  • How To Get More Time. You can earn more money through hard work and a good brain. You can also earn more time through a weekly dose of exercise. 'Assuming you spent four hours a week exercising, 50 weeks a year for 50 years, that would be 10,000 hours of lifetime exercise. That's barely over 1 year of time. But, for that one year, you would likely get six to eight additional years of disability-free health. In other words, every hour you spend exercising is likely to give you six to eight hours of additional healthy life.' The problem? We are victims of temporal discounting. We put much more emphasis on immediate gratification over future rewards.
  • Bambi's Mum Had To Die. In a scene of Bambi, we see Bambi's mother leading her son to a source of food and grazing happily. Suddenly, trouble emerged, and they had to flee. As they run, a shot rings out. We see that Bambi made it safe but his mother is no longer with him. As he started to look for his mother desperately, a stag appeared before him and said: "Your mother can't be with you anymore." This scene is one of the most significant scenes in all of Disney's movies. Why? For the first time, it portrayed death differently. Her death was final, unfair and almost cruel. It was the first animated film to show that good guys can just die without winning.

A Homage To The Queen

Queen Elizabeth in her youth (Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II, the UK's longest reigning monarch, has died.

Her reign saw the world change dramatically, but she remained a constant presence in the lives of the people of the UK and Commonwealth.

Think about it.

She went through every single change in this world over the past century.

The Creation of the Mickey Mouse, World War II, The First Business Computer, Decolonization, the discovery of the Double Helix, The Cold War and every other modern development til today.

She was the embodiment of our connection from the past to the present.

Today, that connection has died.

The Irony of Technological Innovation

Game-changing technologies usually come from a major geopolitical power. The powers had the money to absorb the huge costs of innovation because they had the money and, more importantly, because they knew it would reinforce their military capabilities and, thus, reinforce their power.

Thus, it makes sense that the iPhone was created in the US.

Let's take the iPhone for example.

What makes the iPhone possible?

It's the microprocessor. Without it, the iPhone could never enjoy such high computing power within such small hardware.

These early iterations of the microprocessor were bankrolled by the US government, which needed lightweight computer systems for advanced military capabilities such as the main flight control computer in the US Navy's new F-14 Tomcat fighter in the early 70s.

Microprocessor blueprints and designs were then open to the public, facilitating further market innovations.

This is not to discredit Apple for its iconic innovations. However, the point is that the government provided for the base level of technology as a public good. Then, companies like Apple, updated these technologies, integrated them into a single platform/device and marketed them brilliantly to a growing consumer market.

Without the huge upfront cost borne by the US government, it's unlikely that Apple and other companies would have emerged.

Thus, the irony emerges - technologies intended for military purposes and power projection when made available to the public become inevitably subject to market forces and thereby end up as consumer products.

Visualization Of The Week

BCA Research

The stagnation of the Italian economy visualized.

Thank you for reading this and truly, may the sun shine upon your face,

Keith