CategoryIn the news

The World is Becoming more African

It’s quite rare when the U.S. media has something nice to say about Africa. This week was an exception, in The New York Times, in an interactive digital article about the population growth and economic growth of the African continent. The median age in Africa here in 2023 is just 19 years old, nearly a decade younger than in India and the rest of South Asia. By 2050, more than 1/3rd of all...

Progress on Global Poverty

In the fight to eliminate global poverty, a statistic often quoted is the World Bank’s claim that the poverty rate is below 10%. True, but only when measured against a global poverty line of $2.15 per day. $2.15 is about the same as American’s spend per day on their dogs and cats. Progress is still positive if you pick a more realistic poverty line, but at $3.65 there are nearly 2...

Half of CO2 emissions are from 10% of the global population

Half of all the CO2 emitted annually come from just 10% of the global population. Not surprisingly, from the richest 10%. And in case you think you are not rich, this is the top 10% global income, which is 99% of everyone living in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. The “Global North”. Meanwhile, most of my work is spent focused on Africa, where 90% of the...

Growth is hard to predict, especially exponential growth

I’ve talked about the proverbial hockey stick growth in years past, as well as the challenges of predicting the future, but what I’ve yet to mention is the tendency to expect future growth to be linear rather than exponential. Above are four graphs of four technology products, three of which which have seen exponential growth in the last few years: Solar panels (PV), Electric cars...

AI is a (misnamed) tool

AI is a tool. A misnamed tool at that, as the AI in the news these days is a complex web of statistics and matrix multiplication that resembles human intelligence, but which is far from actually intelligent. They are big, innovative, step-function-changing tools, like the printing press vs. hand copied books, like the typewriter vs. hand copied letters, like word processors vs. hand typed...

Copying Berkshire Hathaway

Berkshire Hathaway letter

A few weeks ago I asked the internet why there are no copycats of Berkshire Hathaway, despite Warren Buffett telling the world exactly how he and Charlie do what they do. This week, Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders was published, and now that Africa Eats is copying parts of Berkshire Hathaway’s model, I found it more fascinating than usual to both learn as well as compare and...

Reminiscing of 30 year old (failed) technology

Remembering he Apple Newton

I’m not the only one this week looking back 30 years at failed tech gadgets. Today in my news feed was a post on ars technia, Remembering Appleā€™s Newton, 30 years on. Thirty years ago, on May 29, 1992, Apple announced its most groundbreaking and revolutionary product yet, the Newton MessagePad. It was released to great fanfare a year later, but as a product, it could only be described as a...

Seeing is hard, especially into the future

Cover of BYTE 1991

This year I’m celebrating 30 years as an entrepreneur, and with that round number reminiscing more than usual about three decades of learnings. My personal journey into startups began a year earlier, in February of 1991, while still a senior in college at Carnegie Mellon. That month’s issue of BYTE magazine focused on the future of laptops, with a series of articles talking not just...

Camping in an Electric Camper Van

Electric camper

While the news is full of stories of the transition to electric cars, soon to be added into that transition is camper vans, as that is now just possible too, and you don’t even need to buy one. The challenge is that camper vans are much heavier than cars, less aerodynamic, and thus need more power to move about. That, plus campers are intended to go out into the wild, away from civilization...

The Federal Reserve’s thoughts on the Digital Dollar (CBDC)

Federal Reserve thoughts

The Federal Reserve published their first public paper on digital dollars, a.k.a. Central Bank Digital Currencies, a.k.a. the dollar CBDC. This, of course, is spurred by the popularity of cryptocurrencies and the questions of whether they will replace the government issued fiat currencies. At a high level, this paper says nothing interesting. A bone dry nothingburger. But what is interesting is...

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