Today, we’ve got:
- What’s a rabbit companion, and do you need one?
- California Forever is a bad idea.
- America is super violent.
- Just how bad is Google?
- The best job in the world.
Table of Contents
What’s a rabbit companion, and do you need one?
The biggest buzz from this year’s CES was something called the Companion from Rabbit.
It’s a silly-looking piece of hardware that’s basically a super effective and action-biased ChatGPT in your pocket.
Rabbit calls it a “personalized operating system through a natural language interface.”
Think of it this way: all the disparate and unconnected stuff your phone does will be replaced by an integrated device that can search, get you a rideshare, do your shopping, and translate conversations on the spot.
A hyperefficient personal assistant for everyone, in your pocket.
One of my favorite online people, 8teapi, breaks it down:
- is it a phone? (Yes, it seems to be)
- why is it not an app? (It breaks the siloed app security model by spoofing the human user)
- why would anyone carry and recharge another device? (You carry and recharge your vape pen… so really, the question you’re asking is: Is it addictive enough to bother)
- why would any sane person do hardware? (Multi trillion dollar market size if they get it right, plus if you need to break the app security model, you have to get out from under the thumb of the enforcers)
It’s a funny form factor, but maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world.
AI hardware is already a relatively crowded field, but this looks compelling to me. It’s only $199, and the device is sold out with a long waiting list.
California Forever is a bad idea
You’ve probably heard of California Forever, the city Marc Andreeson, Reid Hoffman, and some other rich Silicon Valley guys are trying to build in California.
If it goes through, it will be a walkable city for 50,000 people in southeastern Solano County, near the San Francisco Bay Area in California.
The plan includes residential homes, a solar farm, public parks, and the renovation of significant infrastructure like Highway 12 and the North Bay Aqueduct. Architectural designs suggest a city with a level of walkability comparable to New York City and Paris, featuring Mediterranean architecture and streetcar infrastructure.
And all that sounds great. It’s just the sort of thing America needs.
But it’s the wrong way to do it.
California Forever is symptomatic of the divisiveness infecting America and demonstrates an utter lack of national ambition.
To understand why, ask yourself two things:
- How have we got here?
- What’s the logical outcome?
How have we got here?
Discontent in San Francisco has been growing for years. Residents, particularly wealthy SV ones, feel unsafe and unwelcome.
Many have left the Bay Area for Texas, Florida, Idaho or whatever, but they’ve mostly found suburban sprawl hell.
They think they can do a better job of creating a community they actually want to live in.
What’s the logical outcome?
Let’s say this works and the project is replicated throughout the country.
A generation from now, America will be littered with corporate city-states, each with its own personality, demographics, and rule of law.
Who’s in charge? The corporation that owns the city? A mayor who’s hand-picked and subservient to the board of directors?
What happens if the citizens get fed up with their corporate overlords and want to kick them out?
Can one city-state go to war with another? Can it refuse to let Federal agents in? Can it secede?
The entire prospect feels horrifically dystopian to me.
Absolutely, America should build more. Way more. But not led by for-profit corporations.
Imagine for a moment a concerted effort similar in scope and ambition to the New Deal or Moon Landing, where the US aimed to double its population within a generation by increasing immigration (obvious screening caveats apply, programs to culturally integrate, etc) and building out infrastructure in currently unused areas.
Imagine Sim City played out hundreds of times across America over generations — The US could double its GDP in 20 years. Octuple it in 50.
It’s the kind of long-term planning you’d expect from China but is impossible in America.
I think that’s a shame.
America is super violent
Sticking with what’s wrong with America and how to fix it, check out this piece on crime statistics in the US.
A few things that popped out for me:
- The homicide rate in America is 6.4x the average of the other 24 most developed countries in the world, and the gap is getting bigger.
- Only four countries have a higher incarceration rate than America: El Salvador, Cuba, Rwanda, and Turkmenistan.
- The number of police officers per homicide is 90% lower in American than the rest of the developed world. This is mostly down to more murders but also fewer cops.
- America’s homicide clearance rate — the number of arrests per homicide — is around 55%. It’s more than 100% elsewhere (you can arrest more than one person for a murder).
- There’s a misconception that most inmates are there for drug-related offenses. The reality is that it’s mostly down to violent crime (63% vs 13%).
The whole thing is worth a look and possibly some reflection.
Just how bad is Google?
If you’ve used Google anytime in the last several years to try to learn anything, you’ve been disappointed.