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  • Track 2. Semiconductor Chips, Ozempic, Reddit Deals & Microsoft's Recall

Track 2. Semiconductor Chips, Ozempic, Reddit Deals & Microsoft's Recall

Chips are sexier than you think 🫦 Will obesity be a thing of the past 💉 AI may be King but Content companies are Queen 👑 Microsoft’s Recall: is it a step too far? 🤔

Hey hello,

Get ready for the 2nd issue of Bullet Train!

If you missed our debut, here's the scoop: we're your express route to the groundbreaking news shaping our future. No short-term stories, no negative spin, no fluff—just the big innovations transforming our lives, curated by the team behind the Meco App.

We hope you enjoy the ride. However, if this isn't quite your speed, there's an easy opt-out option below — no hard feelings. If you are into it, keep scrolling for an action-packed Track 2.

It’s May 29th. Today’s stops include:

  • Chips are sexier than you think 🫦 

  • Is obesity a thing of the past? 💉 

  • AI may be King but Content companies are Queen 👑 

  • Microsoft’s Recall: is it a step too far? 🤔 

And don’t miss our #offtherails segment — not so future-focused, just a bit of fun

Weekly coverage of the stories, products, and concepts shaping the future and transforming our place in it – brought to you in streamlined bullet points.

Chips are sexier than you think

What to know:

  • Woulda, coulda, shoulda bought that NVIDIA stock in 2023… the top AI chip company’s Q1 earnings report spanked estimates, sending share prices over $1,000

  • A day later, South Korea announced a $19B package to support their chip design and manufacturing businesses — resembling Biden’s CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 and referencing the “all-out-warfare” of the chip industry

  • A chip is a small piece of silicon with circuits carved into it that tells modern electronics how to work — they’re in nearly everything you interact with (phones, computers, medical equipment, appliances, the internet… you get it)

How we got here:

  • Chips were first invented in the 1950s and have become exponentially more powerful since then (the signals that can be added to a chip has doubled every two years since 1965)

  • Due to its intricacy, the chip industry has an unfathomably high barrier to entry, creating a narrow supply chain for one of the world’s most influential technologies

  • To demonstrate: NVIDIA (US) holds about 90% of the specialized AI chip market, TSMC (Taiwan) makes 90% of the world’s most advanced chips, and ASML (Netherlands) makes all (yes, ALL) of the UV machines used to carve circuits onto silicon

Where our minds are going:

  • It’s no surprise that recent “chip talk” is focused on NVIDIA’s stock market momentum and what the AI playboys are doing with that computing power – they offer splashier headlines for sure

  • But there’s so much more under the skin of these little silicon slivers – they are the backbone of artificial intelligence innovation and technological advancement

  • ‘All-out warfare’ in the chip industry may seem like an oversell, but those in control of these chips hold a staggering amount of geopolitical influence

  • In sum, if you’re not paying attention to what’s happening with chips, you’re not paying attention to the future

Long train reading: Chip War by Chris Miller

Will obesity be a thing of the past?

What to know:

  • Ozempic and Wegovy have taken the weight loss world by storm — administered as weekly shots, they’re shown to reduce body weight by around 11% in 6 months for individuals who are obese or overweight

  • In March, the FDA approved these types of drugs as a way to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke for people who are obese

  • Just last week a clinical trial found these drugs also significantly lower the risk of life-threatening complications from kidney disease

How we got here:

  • Ozempic and Wegovy are name-brand drugs by the Danish pharmaceutical company, Novo Noridisk, and the active compound in them is called semaglutide

  • Semaglutide works by mimicking a hormone released in the gut after eating to stimulate insulin production, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels and curb appetite

  • These drugs came to market in 2018 as a treatment for Type 2 Diabetes (where the body cannot regulate blood sugar on its own) — but their weight loss effects led to a seismic marketing shift in 2021 (the full backstory is super interesting and worth a longer read)

Where our minds are going:

  • Ozempic has turned into an off-the-cuff slang word concerning weight loss efforts, but the health impacts of semaglutide-containing drugs can’t be laughed off

  • WHO estimates 16% of all adults are obese (a stunning 42% of American adults are obese) and for the first time we have medications showing promising results in addressing this lifestyle epidemic

  • These drugs have known side effects (nausea, constipation, and more serious potential risks) — but for those facing the numerous health complications associated with obesity, this could drastically change the health trajectory of millions of individuals

  • Cost and availability have been barriers, but off-brand semaglutides are popping up — Hims and Hers just launched one that’s 85% cheaper than name-brand rates, and these next few years should prove deeply influential to the future of obesity

AI may be King but Content companies are Queen

What to know:

  • Reddit has signed two major partnerships with AI powerhouses — a $60M licensing agreement with Google in Q1 and a commercially undisclosed OpenAI deal last week

  • News Corp — owner of Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, MarketWatch, The Sun, The Times, and many more — followed suit last Wednesday with a 5-year deal with OpenAI valued at over $250M

  • Media giants are taking one of two tracts — pocketing cash and AI credits or taking a seemingly higher moral ground on copyright issues (looking at you, NY Times)

How we got here:

  • Content is the fuel that feeds Large Language Models (the core technology behind ChatGPT) — and centuries of human-created content has been sapped to build these artificially intelligent engines

  • It’s murky where all the content these LLMs were trained on actually came from, and the oversimplified answer is: “the internet” under the guise of fair use licensing

  • As ChatGPT has moved into the mainstream, creators (from media giants to authors and artists) are demanding accountability in one way or another — whether through lawsuits or plush partnership deals

Where our minds are going:

  • AI companies are claiming they need human-created content to keep training models on, but this feels much more like a ploy to bolster positive public perception

  • One way for content companies to stay relevant (and make good money) is by partnering with the likes of OpenAI, Anthropic, and Gemini — but these deals are only available to major players, and small-scale creatives will inevitably be left out

  • For AI and Big Media, these deals look like a sustaining symbiotic relationship that makes a lot of sense from a business perspective

  • What remains to be seen is how long AI companies will need (or appear to need) human-created content — but with major money involved for now, we expect to see the deals keep coming

First up, last week’s poll results: 73% of Bullet Train readers would give Maven social media a try, mostly inspired by the push for a more positive mental health experience. We love to see it.

Now for the story that drummed up big emotions and bigger opinions for the BT team this week.

Microsoft’s Recall: is it a step too far?

  • For those who missed it, Microsoft announced a new Windows 11 feature that allows you to “search across time to find the content you need” — aptly named Recall 

  • Recall records your PC usage, very literally, by taking screenshots of your active windows every couple of seconds

  • Users can exercise powerful natural language-based search capabilities to rifle through past PC usage, basically by going through that huge library of screen grabs

  • Something like this is already in the market with Mac — their Rewind AI app has been available since late 2022, but Microsoft’s momentum in the AI race seems to be bringing added scrutiny

  • Overall, this launch is spurring steep privacy concerns regarding the data that’s required to be collected rather than excitement about its use (the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office is already asking questions)

Do Recall's privacy concerns outweigh its usefulness?

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A bit of fun to round out your ride:

  • Luke Littler is 17 years old and just won Premier League Darts — and apparently, that’s a very big deal. Keep slinging, Luke 🎯 

  • A reminder that all doges go to heaven: the Shiba Inu, Kabosu, the wildly popular face of the doge meme and naming inspo for dogecoin died peacefully in her sleep last week at the age of 18

  • After one too many nip slips and midday moonings stopped the fun just 6 days after its launch, the NYC Dublin Portal has reopened, so now’s the time to check it out before the hoolies get it shut down again

  • This futuristic bookstore in Jiangsu, China is giving Dr. Strange meets Midnight Library and we’re here for that; plus this quote from the lead designer of the space stuck with us, “briefly escaping from reality is a genuine way to rediscover oneself”

Did you enjoy Bullet Train this week?

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Please mind the gap as you get off the train ✌️