Wisereads Vol. 33 — Nassim Taleb on Convexity Bias, Herman Melville's Moby Dick, and more

Last week, we shared Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, a cornerstone of economic and political thought. This week, we're sharing Herman Melville's Moby Dick, one of the great American novels.

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Most highlighted Articles of the week


In China: The 100-Year Storm on the Horizon and How the Five Big Forces Are Playing Out

Ray Dalio · LinkedIn

Bridgewater Associates' Ray Dalio analyzes China's evolving economic landscape and the challenges ahead. "A Chinese leader, historian, and friend of mine told me several years ago that the conditions of the times create the type of leader that emerges because the evolutionary process pulls out the leader who suits the environment. In other words, how the times are transpiring determines the leader even more than the leader determines how the times are going."


Suicide Mission

Maureen Tkacik · The American Prospect

The American Prospect investigates how whistleblowers like John Barnett fought against a corporate culture that put stock prices above safety. "Hundreds of Boeing 737 MAXes sit in abandoned parking lots waiting for someone to fix them so they can finally be delivered. Meanwhile, pieces are flying off the Boeing planes actually in use at an alarming rate, criminal investigations are under way, and another in a long line of stock-conscious CEOs is stepping down."


The Case for Marrying an Older Man

Grazie Sophia Christie · The Cut

Reflecting on her age-gap marriage, Grazie Sophia Christie sparks a lively discussion on the stories we tell ourselves about partnerships. "Who is in charge, the man who drives or the woman who put him there so she could enjoy herself? I sit in the car, in the painting it would have taken me a corporate job and 20 years to paint alone, and my concern over who has the upper hand becomes as distant as the horizon, the one he and I made so wide for me."

Most highlighted YouTube Video of the week


But what is a GPT? Visual intro to Transformers | Deep learning, chapter 5


On 3Blue1Brown, Grant Sanderson uses animation to unravel the math behind neural networks. His recent episode explains how generative pre-trained transformers predict the next word with word embeddings. "Think about your own understanding of a given word. The meaning of that word is clearly informed by the surroundings, and sometimes this includes context from a long distance away, so in putting together a model… the goal is to somehow empower it to incorporate context efficiently."

Most highlighted Twitter Thread of the week


Here's a list of 25 YC companies that have trained their own AI models

Jared Friedman

In his recent thread, Y Combinator partner Jared Friedman highlighted companies training their own AI models, including Edgetrace, which "allows you to search through [a huge video dataset] in plain English. Instead of digging through hours of traffic footage, ask for a 'red prius with a golden wheel cap turning right,'" and Can of Soup, which "creates photos of you and your friends in imaginary situations."

Most highlighted PDF of the week

Understanding is a Poor Substitute for Convexity (Antifragility)

Nassim Taleb

Author and statistician Nassim Taleb explains how optionality can help maximize convexity to improve performance in antifragile systems. "Antifragile is… the broad class of phenomena endowed with a convexity bias, as they gain from the 'disorder cluster', namely volatility, uncertainty, disturbances, randomness, and stressors… A coffee cup is fragile because it wants tranquility and a low volatility environment, the antifragile wants the opposite: high volatility increases its welfare."

Hand-picked book of the week


Moby Dick

Herman Melville

One of the great American novels, Herman Melville's Moby Dick is both an exploration of the fury of nature and the uncharted waters of the human condition. Set aboard a whaling ship out of Nantucket, Moby Dick unfolds through Ishmael's eyes and Captain Ahab's chase for the great white whale.

"Human madness is oftentimes a cunning and most feline thing. When you think it fled, it may have but become transfigured into some still subtler form."

This edition of Moby Dick is available through Standard Ebooks. You can explore their collection of high quality, carefully formatted, and free public domain ebooks here.

Handpicked RSS feed of the week


Dear Somebody

In her weekly notes on five things worth remembering, Meera Lee Patel reflects on motherhood and her work as an illustrator. From Dear Somebody: The things I'll miss: "The first deep breath outside, the cold air rushing into my lungs; the crack of twig or tree branch, everything growing, everything going. The first sip of coffee, well-earned and deeply wanted, the changing light on my child’s tiny face, the agony of push and pull between too-much and never-enough: these are the things I’ll miss when they are gone."