November 11, 2016

Pacific Standard - Big Ideas in Social Science: An Interview With Robert J. Shiller on Behavioral Economics 5min

Well, the word “behavioral” refers to the introduction of other social sciences into economics: psychology, sociology, and political science. It’s a revolution in economics that has taken place over the past 20 years or so. It’s bringing economics into a broader appreciation of reality. Economics was more behavioral 50 or 100 years ago. At Yale University, where I work, 1931 was the year when the department of economics, sociology, and government was split into three separate departments. ... There are both advantages and disadvantages of this structure. The advantage is that we develop mathematical economics and mathematical finance to a very advanced level — and that’s useful: We have option pricing theory that is very subtle and allows complex calculations that have some relevance to understanding these markets. But it loses perspective on why we have these options anyway. It offers a justification typically that involves rational behavior. ... We tend to look for patterns in the data that we think are representative of history. ... in the economics profession of 20 years or so ago, there were no bubbles. Now people freely say “bubbles,” but it was one of those words that was considered unprofessional by economists because markets are smarter than any of us and anything that happens in the market has a rational explanation.

Bloomberg - Decapitate and Freeze Now. Figure Out Immortality Later 14min

The brain would be preserved there—the liquid nitrogen topped off once in a while—for however long the science and technology community takes to solve some vexing problems. First, how to repair the tissue damage caused by freezing. Second, and more important, how to gain access to the data inside—the neurons and connections and impulses that constitute a person’s memories, emotions, and personality—and bring it all back to life, either in another, healthier body or uploaded into a computer. ... The best way to cryopreserve is to replace all the water in the body with a chemical that essentially turns the tissue into glass as it freezes. Vitrification, as the process is known, prevents the damage caused by ice crystals when a body is frozen in its natural state. But vitrification has its own flaw: No one knows how to reverse it. ... Cryonics was first proposed by the physicist Robert Ettinger in his 1964 book, The Prospect of Immortality. Five years later, the first human was frozen, and a small, devoted community of cryonicists (almost all of them in America) have been debating best practices ever since. Today, the world leader is Alcor Life Extension Foundation

Rolling Stone - Bellagio Bandit: How One Man Robbed Vegas' Biggest Casino and Almost Got Away 17min

Carleo wasn't without models for how a man might get ahead in life. "My father, my stepfather, my uncle – they all had money. Nice suits, nice cars, nice houses," Carleo says. "But they all worked hard to get it. Me, I didn't have time for that. I was too impatient." ... Eventually he began plowing all his money into buying up rental properties, signing for loans with balloon payments that would kick in after a couple of years. When the financial crisis hit, Carleo was left holding the bag on a series of underwater mortgages. Now deeply in debt, he was forced to sell his own house and let the properties go into foreclosure. In May of 2009 he filed for bankruptcy. A few months later Carleo scraped together $30,000 by liquidating what remained of his possessions and made the 12-hour drive to Vegas to start his new life. ... By robbing the Bellagio, Carleo had achieved something he hadn't been able to do in a decade of striving – he had made himself a millionaire. But, because he had stolen chips instead of cash, he was really only a millionaire inside the Bellagio casino. He would have to park his car in the casino's garage, ride the casino's elevator and walk the casino's marble floors under the watchful eyes of thousands of cameras. He would have to hand the casino's chips to the casino's cashiers and hope that they would give him money rather than call the police. And because trying to redeem too many chips at once might bring unwanted attention, he would have to do it over and over again.

Forbes - Inside Magic Leap, The Secretive $4.5 Billion Startup Changing Computing Forever 10min

In a rare interview Abovitz says Magic Leap has spent a billion dollars perfecting a prototype and has begun constructing manufacturing lines in Florida, ahead of a release of a consumer version of its technology. When it arrives–best guess is within the next 18 months–it could usher in a new era of computing, a next-generation interface we’ll use for decades to come. ... Magic Leap’s innovation isn’t just a high-tech display–it’s a disruption machine. This technology could affect every business that uses screens or computers and many that don’t. It could kill the $120 billion market for flat-panel displays and shake the $1 trillion global consumer-electronics business to its core. ... The centerpiece of Magic Leap’s technology is a head-mounted display, but the final product should fit into a pair of spectacles. When you’re wearing the device, it doesn’t block your view of the world; the hardware projects an image directly onto your retina through an optics system built into a piece of semitransparent glass (the product won’t fry your eyeballs; it’s replicating the way we naturally observe the world instead of forcing you to stare at a screen). The hardware also constantly gathers information, scanning the room for obstacles, listening for voices, tracking eye movements and watching hands.

Credit Suisse - Measuring the Moat: Assessing the Magnitude and Sustainability of Value Creation > 15min

Sustainable value creation has two dimensions: the magnitude of the spread between a company’s return on invested capital and the cost of capital and how long it can maintain a positive spread. Both dimensions are of prime interest to investors and corporate executives. ... Sustainable value creation as the result solely of managerial skill is rare. Competitive forces and endogenous variance drive returns toward the cost of capital. Investors should be careful about how much they pay for future value creation. ... Economic moats are almost never stable. Because of competition, they are getting a little bit wider or narrower every day. This report develops a systematic framework to determine the size of a company’s moat.