"Securities" by Lux Capital: Best of 2022
Wait, where the hell have you been?
Well happy end of 2022 to you, too.
In short: blame Elon Musk. Musk, who took over Twitter a few weeks ago, summarily announced that our newsletter platform Revue is going to be laid to rest in January. Thankfully, we were already in the midst of relaunching LuxCapital.com, which we finished in mid-December (take a look!). In the next few weeks, “Securities” will also be migrating there so that we can be hosted and published straight from Lux — no meddling billionaire social media value destructors to get in our way.
Following this issue, the next issue of “Securities” will come once the migration has been completed. Thank you for your patience!
Best “Securities” Analyses (2022 Edition)
I published 42 “Securities” newsletters, and another dozen or so stories for Lux’s website. Among my favorites were:
- Vaporware skepticism — A look at the challenges of investing at the cutting-edge frontiers of science. When is science ready for commercialization and are we as a society straddling that line correctly, or are we investing too early or late?
- Scientific sublime — An optimistic ode to the power of science to bring humanity together in the wake of the first photos from the James Webb Space Telescope.
- Consensus functions — Thinking about what brings society together and how institutions can drive consensus, from democratic votes and scientific laboratories to crypto governance models.
- The Manichaean rainbow — Exploring the rise of the “color” revolution and its radically different political interpretation between the West on one side and Russia and China on the other.
- Marginal stupidity — How much complexity is needed for society to grow, and what are the limits to further economic specialization?
- Truth and reputations — Multiple founders with former scandals were resurrected in a year in which the definition of “truth” is increasingly under attack from all angles. Where does reputation end and truth begin?
- Defense Fordism — The costs of America’s military infrastructure is increasing lavishly. How does America compete when a single aircraft carrier costs $13 billion and the latest military drones cost a scant few thousands of dollars?
Best “Securities” Podcast Episodes (2022 Edition)
“Securities” producer Chris Gates joined midway through 2022 and rapidly edited and published some brilliant audio stories, a total of 37 episodes in all in fact. Here were my favorites:
- Risk, Bias and Decision Making (Parts 1, 2, 3 & 4) — We had a fantastic panel with our own Josh Wolfe, Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman, World Series of Poker champion and decision psychologist Annie Duke, and Michael Mauboussin, Head of Consilient Research at Counterpoint Global. We discussed everything from premortems, to our ability to change our minds, to whether the concept of “hot hands” exists in sports and investing.
- Jonathan Haidt on American structural stupidity and the post-Babel world (Parts 1 & 2) — Jonathan Haidt has become a distinguished public intellectual covering the changing cultural landscape, particularly among teens and college-aged students. In this episode, we talked about his cover story in The Atlantic entitled “Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid” as well as the wider societal ramifications of social technology.
- Speculative fiction is a prism to understand people — Novelist Eliot Peper sits down to talk about why speculation, utopias and dystopias can help us understand the present (and also be an enjoyable experience in and of themselves).
- The geopolitics and digital future of agricultural commodities — Food security has risen to the top of the global crisis list, and we had a great panel discussion with former ag trade CEOs Chris Mahoney of Glencore Agriculture and Soren Schroder of Bunge.
- There’s always been a global race to develop chip technology — Fletcher School professor Chris Miller joined “Securities” to talk about his new book Chip Wars, which would go on to win the Financial Times Book of the Year award.
- How new communities are propelling the future of tech + bio — Biotech is becoming fertile territory for budding entrepreneurs looking to fuse scientific know-how and software experience. Two leading community leaders — Nicholas Larus-Stone of Bits in Bio and Michael Retchin of Nucleate — talk about bridging the gulf between the lab bench and the code editor.
Lux Recommends (…some final pieces for 2022)
- Deena Shakir recommends Jill Lepore’s review in The New Yorker on The United States’ Unamendable Constitution: “Laws govern people; constitutions govern governments. Lately, American democracy has begun to wobble, leaning on a constitution that’s grown brittle. How far can a constitution bend before it breaks?”
- Shaq Vayda recommends the ESM Metagenomic Atlas, which offers 617 million predicted metagenomic protein structures. Meta (aka Facebook) offers more details of the AI project in a blog post, noting “Our research team found that language models can accelerate the speed at which an atomic-level three-dimensional structure can be predicted up to 60x faster relative to existing state-of-the-art protein structure prediction approaches.”
- Our scientist-in-residence Sam Arbesman has been on a reading binge, and his three most recent book recommendations are The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (which has been widely recommended from what I have seen), as well as The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler.
- Finally, I wrote up my favorite books of the year, but two complementary intellectual standouts were Albert Camus and the Human Crisis by Robert Emmet Meagher and The Subversive Simone Weil by Robert Zaretsky.
That’s it, folks. Have questions, comments, or ideas? This newsletter is sent from my email, so you can just click reply.