June 2021


David Rangel

A few interesting things (June 2021)

Each month we share a list of items that the Merus team found interesting and that we think you will too. Let us know if you have any comments or if you’ve come across similar things that may interest us.

1) One Giant Leap – The story of how NASA, spurred into action by Kennedy’s brave promise of getting to the moon “before this decade is out”, spent the 1960s building the necessary capabilities. It includes many fascinating facts, including that chips went from ~$100 each in 1962 to $1.58 in 1969 (and increasing by orders of magnitude in capability and reliability), largely driven by the demand of the Apollo program. - David

2) Testing Woes – A sobering look at how tech companies, government and health/research institutions failed to ramp up testing and other initiatives in the fight against Covid. We are now aware of how woefully unprepared we were for a pandemic. - Salman

3) Good Moods Often Lead to Bad Judgement – Short article by Daniel Kahneman, from his most recent book, on how moods impact our decisions. As investors, we should be particularly mindful of these findings and the advantages and pitfalls of both good and bad moods. - Sean

4) Gateways to New York – A documentary on Othmar Ammann, the immigrant engineer/designer of several New York bridges, from the George Washington to the Verrazano Narrows. He was also a key engineer for Robert Moses’ mid-century urbanization drive in New York. - David

5) A Vision to Compute Like Nature: Thermodynamically – A paper about a tantalizing vision: as we reach the limits of traditional computing, could there be a breakthrough in a middle ground between digital and quantum computing? - Salman

6) The Powerball Revolution – As they say in this podcast, nobody knows anything. The podcast discusses the benefits of using a random drawing wherever selection is required, including elections, grant making and college admissions. - Sean

7) Why AI is Harder Than We Think – A short paper on four potential fallacies that obscure the difficulty of, and affect our judgement about, AI breakthroughs (e.g., truly self-driving cars). For all the amazing recent advances (e.g., beating the Go world champion), feats that involve “common sense” are still out of reach. And a related bonus: a “hybrid” AI finally won the most prestigious crossword competition! - David

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