You don’t actually own Alibaba stock

You might expect that buying BABA in your brokerage account means you own stock of the Chinese e-commerce giant. But, alas, you don’t. China restricts foreign ownership of its companies. So, instead you own a synthetic security that depends entirely on China’s goodwill and desire to play nicely. learn more

AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order

Author: Kai-Fu Lee

I read this book mostly on the basis of the authors pedigree. Kai-Fu Lee is a tech rock star. He’s an O.G. of AI research, a tech exec who built Google China, and founder of the VC firm Sinovation Ventures.

What I hoped to learn from this book was not about AI necessarily, but rather about the view on why China would be relevant to the AI economy in the coming years. Lee delivered on the promise by telling a story that tied together China’s strengths and the current state of AI development. Despite China’s shortcomings, the argument that they have what it takes to make meaningful advances with AI technology is a strong one.

The point centers around the fact that we’re not relying on fundamental breakthroughs in AI research for progress. Instead, the breakthroughs already exist and now we’re in the “application” phase where execution is needed. And China has the skills to pay the bills when it comes to applying this tech because of the massive amounts of engineering manpower and a data-rich environment driven by culture and scale. Watch out!

Lee spends a good part of the book painting a picture of what the world might look like after the AI job losses start occurring. His message is that we will be wise to reposition the manpower that’s been replaced by computers to do tasks that are innately human – social work, care giving, etc. I’m not sure I buy into this thinking as much as the message on China, but it’s a conversation that I think will pick up steam over the coming years.

Read this book if you’re curious to learn more about AI and the “race” among countries to implement it. Otherwise, maybe find a summary online.

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When advertising isn’t enough.

A presentation from a16z general partner Connie Chan. “Believe it or not, we’re still in the early days of the internet. And even though it originated in the U.S., countries like China – that leapfrogged the infrastructure phase to go mobile-first – show us what’s possible when we go beyond advertising-only based models.” | learn more

China’s big hack. 

You may have seen some headlines about China managing to slip extra chips onto servers operated by Apple, Amazon and other US tech companies. This is a link to the Bloomberg piece with the original reporting that’s worth a read. It reinforces my view that internet security is a myth. learn more