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Track 1. GPT-4o, CyberCab, Maritime Emissions

The one thing that’s shocking about GPT-4o 💨 Can we talk about the CyberCab 🚕 Reducing carbon emissions is making global warming… worse? 🌤️ No likes, no follows – can Maven actually change social media 👎️

Hey Meco Reads readers 👋 ,

It’s been a minute since we were in your inbox — how are things? How’s the fam?

We’ve loved bringing you the Meco Reads Newsletter, but we’ve been thinking seriously about how to deliver more meaning to your newsletter feeds. Frankly, we’re tired of cynical takes and eye-catching headlines that don't matter for tomorrow's world. We like getting hyped about the future and innovations around us, so we're evolving your Meco Reads Newsletter to do exactly that.

It’s called Bullet Train — your fast track to the news that's shaping our future. A quick, weekly read focused on innovative stories, products, and concepts transforming the world and our place in it.

If that’s not your thing, you can opt-out below. Or, if you're on board to explore the big innovations driving our future, keep scrolling to catch our first track.

It’s May 22nd. Today’s stops include:

  • The one thing that’s shocking about GPT-4o 💨  

  • Can we talk about the CyberCab 🚕

  • Reducing carbon emissions is making global warming… worse? 🌤️

  • No likes, no follows – can Maven actually change social media 👎️

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.

The one thing that’s shocking about GPT-4o

What to know:

  • If you managed to miss it: OpenAI launched a new model last week that can “reason across audio, vision, and text in real time” called GPT-4o (o for Omni — a little Big Brother-ish, but we digress)

  • In effect, the new experience is like FaceTiming an amorphous AI being (peep the demos here)

  • All the tech publications lost their ever-loving minds covering this “unexpected” and unprecedented launch, and for good reason!

How we got here:

  • In October of 2013, the New York City Film Festival held the first screening of a movie called “Her”

  • Based on his launch day tweet and apparent obsession with ScarJo’s voice, it seems Sam’s been targeting a Her-reality for a while

  • Altman’s always wanted his legacy tied to the creation of AGI — software that can act, think, and reason like humans (or rather, better than humans) and GPT-4o is the next step in that process

Where our minds are going:

  • GPT-4o isn’t unexpected… we all knew this is where it was going, the shocking part is how quickly we (or OpenAI) got to this point

  • There is a definite novelty with the 4o experience, and as expected people are experimenting with the fun of it all

  • But this new launch is really just a calling card for something bigger — which is the pace of play in the AI world, with no signs of slowing down

  • We’re now on the cusp of an AGI reality that we all thought was decades (or more) away — and if we felt like this came fast, we’re popping on seat belts to get ready for whatever is coming next

Can we talk about the CyberCab

What to know:

  • Yeah, yeah, Tesla’s having a tough year, with sliding share prices and global layoffs

  • In April, everyone expected an update on the $25K Model 2 to shift the company’s trajectory upwards

  • Instead, the company doubled down on the Robotaxi Program, creating a true driverless car (officially dubbed the Tesla CyberCab)

How we got here:

  • We can count on Elon to chase innovation and buck expectations – so this “pivot” checks out

  • We’ve also been here before: in 2019 Musk predicted self-driving Teslas on roadways by 2020

  • Tesla’s Full-Self Driving system currently has a (Supervised) caveat – but they’ll need a wholly autonomous system for CyberCabs to become a reality

Where our minds are going:

  • Musk has commented before on how true FSD systems will require real-world artificial intelligence that exceeds human reasoning on roadways

  • AI capabilities from even a year ago were light years away from that, but AI is moving faster than ever (ahem, read the story above)

  • This timely convergence of innovations might mean we’re closer than ever to a future of cars without steering wheels

  • We’re not going to operate on Elon-time and make outlandish predictions for when that will be, but the CyberCab unveiling is slated for August 8th. Mark your calendars.

Reducing maritime emissions is making global warming… worse?

Image Credit: rawpixel.com / Carol M Highsmith

What to know:

  • Ocean tankers that burn fossil fuels contribute to about 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions

  • Back in 2020, shipping regulations were put in place to clean up maritime emissions, which led to a significant reduction of sulfur dioxide in the air over the oceans (good, simple stuff!)

  • But in a paradoxical twist, ocean temperatures have risen rapidly since the regulations went into effect…

How we got here:

  • The International Maritime Organization put out a 2020 regulation requiring ships to reduce fuel sulfur content from 3.5% to 0.5%

  • It worked! Sulfur emissions over the oceans have dropped significantly since the regulation went into effect

  • Although toxic, those sulfur dioxide particles in the atmosphere had been helping keep water temps a bit cooler by reflecting sunlight away from the ocean

Where our minds are going:

  • We double-checked to make sure scientists aren’t looking to reintroduce sulfur dioxide back into the air to reflect more sunlight and cool the oceans — they’re not, don’t worry

  • The sharp rise in ocean temps is highly concerning, but these “failed” attempts at reducing global warming do provide valuable learnings of the deeply nuanced work of reducing climate change

  • There are wildly innovative (though very untested) techniques related to sunlight-reflecting cooling methods currently being tested, and it’s worth keeping an eye out for more creative experiments in this space

  • To learn more about “solar geo-engineering” climate cooling methods that appear poised to play a role in our future — check out this story on Marine Cloud Brightening

The story that drummed up big emotions and bigger opinions for the BT team this week:

No likes, no follows – can Maven actually change social media

What to know:

  • Maven is a new type of social network that shirks the ‘popularity-contest style’ of traditional social media

  • You can’t follow someone else’s account and there are no likes – you just follow interests

  • Their idea is to create a social experience that is more serendipitous – where users come upon content by chance

How we got here:

  • On paper, Maven is trying to address the mental health crisis linked to social media by removing popularity-based value metrics

  • In practice, it’s more of an AI play, as the core differentiator is an open-endedness algorithm pioneered by the CEO, Ken Stanley

  • His objective is to foster more divergence in thought and creativity, in hopes of reducing the toxicity, extremism, and disinformation rampant in mainstream feeds

Where our minds are going:

  • ngl, most of the team had never heard of Maven and after an extended friend check — can confirm no one we know uses it

  • It seems that Maven’s current user base is very close to the founder’s networks and based on the movement of social media platforms in the last decade, we don’t see it rising to the mainstream anytime soon

  • While promising to see a push for healthier social media, the removal of likes and follows doesn’t feel like it will do much to make a meaningful impact on the layered toxicity of social media

  • We’ll keep rooting for a new player in this space who can create healthier, less addictive experiences that celebrate creativity and connectedness — a unicorn for sure

Would you give Maven a try?

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A bit of fun to round out your ride:

Did you enjoy Bullet Train this week?

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Please mind the gap as you get off the train ✌️