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  • Sunday Signal: Tesla’s Optimus Gen 2, Lux Capital’s letter to LPs and the ‘MBAisation’ of America

Sunday Signal: Tesla’s Optimus Gen 2, Lux Capital’s letter to LPs and the ‘MBAisation’ of America

Hey friends 👋 Happy Sunday.

Here’s your weekly dose of AI and introspection.

AI Highlights

Tesla has made significant progress with Optimus. The Gen 2 version now boasts improved actuators, sensors and more efficient design. This has led to a 30% boost in walking speed and a reduction in weight.

Alex’s take: Tesla's focus on end-to-end neural network training for their robots is a game-changer, particularly in autonomous object sorting. The enhanced hand dexterity of Optimus Gen 2 hints at vast potential applications across industries. Reflecting on this, I’ll finish with a quote by Jim Fan, Senior Research Scientist at NVIDIA:

“Regardless of how well you train the model in the world of bits, a slow and unreliable hardware will always be the fundamental bottleneck in the world of atoms.”

OpenAI's latest paper addresses the central challenge of superalignment in AI—effectively supervising AI systems that surpass human intelligence. Their approach proposes using smaller, less advanced AI models to oversee larger, more sophisticated ones, rather than relying on human supervision.

Alex’s take: The rapidly growing complexity and creativity of future AI systems will likely eclipse human capacity for effective oversight. For example, AI generating code at a volume and complexity beyond human comprehension. I feel this is one of the most exciting—and important—opportunities in ML research right now for guiding the responsible development of AI.

Resemble AI released 'Resemble Enhance', an open-source speech enhancement model. This tool dramatically improves the clarity of noisy audio, setting a new standard in the field.

Alex’s take: Existing methods often fall short in delivering high-quality audio. Resemble’s solution is unique in that it uses two modules: (1) a denoiser, which separates speech from noisy audio, and (2) an enhancer, which further boosts the perceptual audio quality by restoring audio distortions and extending the audio bandwidth.

1 Article I Enjoyed

Josh Wolfe is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Lux Capital.

Lux invests in emerging science and technology ventures that turn sci-fi into sci-fact.

When I first listened to Josh Wolfe on a podcast in 2017, I was immediately struck by his natural ability as an orator. This written memo to Lux Capital’s LPs is no exception.

My favourite takeaways:

  • The history of science is the evolution of instruments.

  • Defending our clear thinking requires error correction, and error correction requires open systems. The end result is instrumental objectivity.

  • Disinformation—whether silly by selfies or serious by states—devalues the truth, and devalues reality.

  • Closed, siloed, and centralised systems trend to authoritarianism, whereas open, evolving, adversarial and error-correcting systems trend to truth.

A great recent example of open systems is Hugging Face. The machine learning and data science platform allows you to build, train and deploy open-source generative AI models. As Wolfe states, the communal nature of Hugging Face “allows weights and biases in AI models to be error-corrected by an open community of globally distributed machine learning researchers.”

The underlying theme throughout the letter—realism—comes to blossom in the last paragraph of the letter. I’ll finish with this excerpt:

“The word technology originates from two Greek words: techne (meaning craft or art) and logia (meaning study or discourse). Technology is thus the mastery of the scientific knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, and methods to very practically make and do stuff that solves problems. The reality is that technology is an instrument through which we unveil objectivity—the mechanics of the world around us from the tiniest molecule to the vastness of space.”

1 Idea I Learned

The ‘MBAisation’ of America.

At the WSJ CEO Council Summit in 2020, Elon Musk shared that too many MBAs are ruining companies.

CEOs aren’t focusing enough on product improvement.

They need to spend less time on finance, in conference rooms and on PowerPoint and more time on making their product as amazing as possible.

He mentions:

“We must go back to the basics: What’s the point of a company at all? Why even have companies?

A company is an assembly of people gathered together to create a product or service and deliver that product or service. A company has no value in and of itself. It only has value to the degree that is an effective allocator of resources to create goods and services that are of greater value than the cost of inputs. The thing we call ‘profit’ should just mean over time that the value of the output is worth more than the inputs.”

This underscores the whole point of business in the first place: building a great product.

It’s the only thing that matters.

Financials come as a result of product excellence.

1 Quote to Share

Novak Djokovic on achieving extraordinary outcomes:

“I can carry on playing at this level because I like hitting the tennis ball,” he says simply. Are there players who don’t, I ask? “Oh yes. There are people out there who don’t have the right motivation. You don’t need to talk to them. I can see it. But I don’t judge. I completely respect everybody’s freedom of choice. If it works for them . . .”

Nothing beats authentic commitment. It will keep you in the game far longer than those who just show up when it’s easy. It will sustain you during those hard times.

You’ve got to do it for the love of doing it. You’ve gotta love hitting the ball.

1 Question to Ponder

Am I being myself or am I playing a character?

💡 If you enjoyed this issue, share it with a friend.

See you next week,

Alex Banks