Four For Friday | Feb 2, 2024
LF106 | Lossy bottlenecks, data pods & AI assistants, boomer fintech and female reproductive longevity.
Welcome to Looking Forward’s Four For Friday. Four things that have piqued my interest this week. Enjoy!
Fixing the ‘lossy bottleneck’
Sounding a bit like a painful medical condition or perhaps a rare bird, a ‘lossy bottleneck’ actually describes a problem in decision-making - when you boil complex issues down to a few options or ballot box choices, you suffer a ‘loss’ of information.
Traditionally, people have been forced to reduce complex choices to a small handful of options that don’t do justice to their true desires. Artificial intelligence has the potential to remove that limitation. And it has the potential to drastically change how democracy functions.
AI can fix this. The author, Bruce Schneier uses an analogy of a fast food restaurant offering limited limited options compared to a talented personal chef with every option available to tailor your dream meal.
Customer data pods enable AI assistants
However, delivering this type of personalized experience may require a different kind of relationship to data than we have today; a sense of trust and ownership. Web inventor Tim Berners Lee has been building this with Solid, creating the concept of personal data pods.
This piece from another company founded by Berners Lee, Inrupt, makes it clear that we need ‘demand side’ ownership of data, not just by the vendor:
“Personalization” increasingly means something done to us, by companies for their sole benefit. True personalization should be something done for us as customers. Or better yet, with us. I prefer the term “individualization’
These pods would enable AI assistants to work because they would be more trusted than having your every desire known by Big Tech. In 2017 Berners Lee described a vision of a personal AI assistant that would work for you, being more valuable as it would have access to all of your most intimate data.
The unmet need for Boomer Fintech
This call for more innovation to address boomers’ fintech challenges is by a partner at Balderton Capital, one of the U.K.’s leading venture farms. He identifies number of opportunity areas including annuities. [Editor: I continue to believe tontines could be the answer here - ping me if you want to discuss…]
Longevity Tech Bros should study ovaries
A very Silicon Valley tale of a lone-innovator on a single-minded pursuit of a better world, enabled by a few billion in their bank account. Nicole Shanahan, Sergey Brin’s ex, has accelerated research into women reproductive health which has been missing from the existing research around Longevity, which she feels is dominated by men’s fear of their own mortality.
That’s all for this week. As always, feedback welcome. Feel free to share insights or links of interest.