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impact markets, optimizing happiness & the data edge
CC#43 - Less COVID, more Malnourishment, Social Upward Mobility & a Glacier Collapse
Hey there and welcome to ✨ CuratedCuriosity - a bi-weekly newsletter delivering inspiration from all over the internet to the notoriously curious.
Things I Enjoyed Reading.
🧺 Impact Markets: The Annoying Details
Definitely lots of trouble in those details, nonetheless an enticing idea with great application potential. Also explained in a very relatable way.
A reminder: impact certificates are like a VC funding ecosystem for charity. Charity founders with good ideas sell shares in their proposed projects. Profit-seeking investors buy shares of (“invest in”) projects that they expect to succeed. This funds the project; if it does succeed, altruistic people/foundations (“final oracular funders”) buy the impact, compensating the investors.
In the current system, your job is to predict which charitable projects will work. In an impact market, you (as the final oracular funder) only need to figure out which projects did work, which is much easier: for example, penicillin obviously worked, and flying cars obviously didn’t. Then you buy the shares of those projects, and your job is done. Private investors still have to do the prediction behind the scenes, but they’re only risking their own money, not charitable dollars, and they’re properly incentivized to get the right answers. (…) This post isn’t about the theory. It’s about the annoying implementation details. It may not be very interesting to people who are neither effective altruists nor institution design wonks, sorry.
😊 Nobody Optimizes Happiness
What is it that we are consciously or unconsciously optimizing for in our daily life? There is some evidence that its not happiness - some good thoughts to kickstart a conversation with yourself.
Everyone I know is scheming for the future. They’ve got big goals and get up every day and work like mad to try to achieve them.
I’ve always found something odd about that: Despite all this effort, people don’t seem to think too much about the specifics of what would happen after their goal is achieved. Like—say your startup goes public and you become a billionaire. What now? What will you buy, where will you live, what will you eat for lunch?
Don’t worry, I won’t tell you to abandon your goals and detach yourself from desire. I’m just observing that even if you achieved your goals, you’d need to make a huge number of decisions to convert them into a “life” and then (hopefully) happiness. And people don’t seem to think much about those decisions.
📈 Do data-driven companies actually win?
As someone earning her money by analysing data, I like to think that data is a powerful tool to optimize everything - including, of course, companies. However, obviously this is not always the case - a collection of critical thoughts on the use of data in startups, written by a data scientist.
More concretely, data teams should keep people as informed as they can about the environment everyone is making decisions in—where key metrics are, how they’re trending, the basic facts about performance across segments and product lines, and so on.
Each time someone makes a decision with this awareness, they’re tilting that choice in the their favor. The bump may be small, but it adds up. And as much as we data folk might like to imagine ourselves as having the ability to swoop in on a few critical decisions and dramatically shift the odds, we can’t, no more than a great card counter can parachute in to win a particular hand.
(…) Companies, especially young ones, that orient themselves around data can often put too much faith in its magical transformative powers—sometimes to disastrous effect. That’s not how it works. Data is a competitive edge, but it’s earned, from months and years of grinding at the table, counting cards, playing hand after hand, slowly bringing down the house.
Food for Thought.
😷 End of the pandemic? I have to admit I am a bit pessimistic thinking about the upcoming winter months - nonetheless, these are some good news!
🥣 After multiple decades of decline in the percentage of people being undernourished, 2021 marked an unfortunate reversal in this trend. The UN cites ‘the Ukraine crisis, climate extremes, conflicts and economic shocks’ as the main drivers and states that ‘there is a real danger these numbers will climb even higher in the months ahead.’
👫👭👬 Apparently, children’s chances of rising out of poverty (in the U.S.) are very much related to the relationships they form with children from different socio-economic groups.
It’s about growing up from childhood in a more connected area,” he [Raj Chetty] said. “It shapes your aspirations. It shapes the things that you think about, the career paths you think about pursuing. If you’ve never met anybody who’s gone to college, you probably don’t think about applying to college or applying to a place like Harvard.
😮 Infinite Art…
🌏 The earth would have a lot less minerals, if there weren’t any living beings on it.
One-third of all mineral kinds form exclusively as parts or byproducts of living things—such as bits of bones, teeth, coral, and kidney stones (which are all rich in mineral content) or feces, wood, microbial mats, and other organic materials that over geologic time can absorb elements from their surroundings and transform into something more like rock.
Back in CPH. Amazing weather over here - around 26 degree celsius during the day. Prediction: I think in 5 years time most European middle-class families will spend their summer holidays in the Nordics (as opposed to Greece, Italy, Spain and thelikes).
Curious if the relationships to people from different socio-economic classes matter as much in other countries as they do in the U.S. Considering to try doing some work on this.
Otherwise trying to learn about/read literature on quite a few, quite different topics - value of specific skills, the relationship of personality and entrepreneurial aspirations and the contagion of suicidal thoughts (if you got some recommendations, send them over 🤍).