The Age of AI

It would be weird for bloggers these days not to write about Artificial Intelligence.

There has been some concerns that someday AI or robots will take over all human jobs causing massive global unemployments. For me, I think the world will reach that point for sure. It is just a question of when. There is no need to prevent or delay it.

Instead, what we need to do is to make sure not just the rich but everyone would benefit from this phenomenon. We tend to think that the economy is healthy when full employment is reached. In fact, full employment is not the true goal of healthy economy but the highest level of living standards possible. So, it is a blessing not a curse that robots can do everything for us. But we need to find a way to ensure that every human affords robotic services.

Indeed, this could means giving every citizen basic income to pay those services. It might sound fiscally irresponsible, but if the world has reached that point, the world should be able to afford it. At that time, we should be able to produce energy almost at no costs (solar, wind, etc.). Those free energy could drive robots to work for us 24×7 at almost no costs, too. So, I don’t see any reason why we can give everyone basic income in the future. Now we just have to gradually move along that path.

Let’s cross our fingers.

 

 

The Prospect of Freelance Economy

In the U.S., one third of the working population has already engaged in some types of freelancing. By 2020, the number is expected to reach 50%. In this regard, the freelance economy is becoming the norm.

Freelancing does not mean having to quit full-time job. On the contrary, most of freelancers have multiple sources of income. Many of them do not quit their full-time job. In fact, the so-called “Moonlighter” i.e. those who work full-time job during the day and do the second during the night (and/or weekends) are going to be the main types of freelancing in the future.

In the past, freelance opportunities are limited to professional or specialised tasks such as computer graphics, web design, screenwriting, engineering project managements, etc. With the advent of Uber and the likes, freelancing is now open to almost everyone, skilled or non-skilled. You can work for a company during the day, drive Uber at night and host a group of backpackers at home during weekends.

In Thailand, I don’t see as much enthusiasm as it should be regarding freelancing. People tends to think of stock investing or starting up a business when it comes to earning extra incomes. I personally think not quitting your current job and find some freelancing activities is much more practical for average persons to earn more than those popular choices. It could be because of our own culture that drives people to pursue the more glamorous but less probable paths.

(image by telegraph.co.uk)  

Me-too Startups

When Facebook took off, a lot of people wanted to start a social network site. When Uber took off, a lot of people wanted to start another taxi-calling app. We get sick of these me-too startups.

Bill Gross , founder of idealab (not the same person as the famous fixed-income fund manager) systematically analysed key success factors of several highly successful startups in the past (Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, Google, etc.) and found that the most common key success factors of these unicorns was not ideas, teamwork and so forth but timing. The right timing actually explained the highest chance of success for startups. Steve Jobs failed once with Newton, but he got successful with iPhone because wireless/mobile network  technology was ready when iPhone was invented. Uber would never be successful without mobile apps.

He made me think twice about those me-too startups. Perhaps when the first unicorn of a type of business has taken off, it means that the timing of that type of business is just about right. Perhaps those me-too entrepreneurs might not be terribly irrational, after all.

 

Categories
Life

A life of a babyboomer

Last week I went to enjoy Chicken Fried Noodle at a renowned street vendor. Recently this vendor was ranked number one by audience of a TV food show. It was so crowded that we needed to wait for one and a half hour to eat the food. 

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The entire place is operated by the owner, his wife and two workers. They open 7 days a week from 4pm to 10pm in which the owner has to stand continuously for six hours cooking by himself dish by dish everyday to ensure quality. During daytime, they also have to prepare the raw material. They have been doing the same routine over and over again non-stop for decades.

They live just a few metres away from the place. The house is very old, dirty and messy. They also dress poorly. People might look down at them, because they work on the street with close to zero education.

It is not difficult to roughly calculate their income.  Each day they sell at least 300 pans at 50 baht a pan. Assuming the gross margin is 50% (typical for food business), They are earning at least 2.8 million baht a year in profit. Having done this business for decades, they probably have 50-100 millions baht in saving since they do not have time to spend the money and possibly never want to do so.

Their lives depict the lifestyle of the baby-boomer generation, probably at the extreme. People of this generation tend to believe in hard work and they are very stingy on average. This contrasts to the lifestyle of the young generation in which they tend to believe in shortcuts and the philosophy of get-rich-fast. The young generation also put more emphasis on looking successful and therefore, unlike the old generation, they spend more money on cosmetics and/or luxury goods than the old generation We cannot say which generation is right but the mentality of these two generations are really poles apart.

Fin Techs of Thailand

Here are a few interesting fin tech I encountered in Startup Thailand 2016 

We have a few kickstarter platforms such as Dreamaker crowdfunding or sinwattana.com . The former has gone live for quite some time. The good news is Thailand SEC is pushing the concept of equity crowdfunding and is supposed to get materialised by 2017. This is actually one of  my dreams. Let’s cross our fingers.

A startup called DeepPocket is solving the problem of the youths who need to buy online but do not have a credit card. They can deposit money with DeepPocket and receive a virtual MasterCard numbers to buy anything online. Previously, this problem was addressed by True money. Now they have a rival.

Coins.co.th is a Thai bitcoin dealer in which you can buy and sell bitcoins with them starting at just 100 baht.

There are many others fin techs and startups in this event as well. Anyway, the one I was anticipated but missing from this event is a P2P-lending company. This kind of fin techs must have a very very big potential in Thailand, but I guess the biggest obstacle must be the Bank of Thailand.

 

 

 

Thailand’s TV formulas

Soap operas get the most eyeballs on television in Thailand. Altogether they reap over half of advertising revenues of the TV industry.  

Over the years, the soap opera producers have discovered secret formulas. The most successful ones must involve a very rich or blue-blood family, so rich that the male protagonist does not have to go to work. The female protagonist must be misunderstood or defamed by her competitor who is usually overtly jealous and like to scream. The family servants are very intrusive, etc. Soap opera actors in Thailand are like gods. They are highly influential.

All other TV programmes aside from soap operas must incorporate practical jokes in some way in order to get high ratings. Game shows should have co-hosts who keep telling jokes on and off. Talk shows must have the celebrity guests play comedy dramas with the clowns. Even the news programmes have to report news in light-hearted manners. They say fun-loving is one of the most distinctive characters of Thai people. Considering what we see on Thailand’s television. This must be true.

Migrating back to iOS camp

I used to own iPhone but got sick of iOS closed system, so I went to Android several years ago.

Recently, I decided to move back to iPhone again but now I own a Mac, an Apple TV and an Airport Express. So I bought an iPhone 6s. After using it for a while, here are my views.

I used to love iOS because of its minimal GUI. Years gone by. iOS does not look clean to me anymore. It now looks as messy and complicated as Android. On the other hand, iOS seems to be less dependent on Desktop iTunes. So, it is getting more open which is good.

In terms of productivity, I love Touch ID so much. This is the smartest way to unlock the screen which is very important because you have to do so hundreds of times per day. Using the Touch ID feature is really convenient. Anyway, the part I don’t like is how to get to WiFi settings which seems easy as you can use swipe up the screen, but the problem is you can only turn on/off WiFi. If you have to select WiFi networks (which in many cases you have to), you still have to go several steps which is not the case for Android.

I loved the silent toggle button and still love it. It is a clever idea to have a physical button that silent it all especially when you are in a hurry. Regarding this, I prefer a physically BACK button that Android has. In iOS, the programmer must soft-implement a back button on every screen and it is never consistent. I constantly have a hard time finding a way to go back to previous screen. And when you get to the main screen of an App, you have to push home button instead. In Android case, you can simple keep pressing back buttons to get to the top.

I am so impressed with iPhone 6s battery. It lasts very long and it does not drain quickly while sleeping. I think iOS has a much smarter power management than Android. I am also impressed by its camera having auto HDR mode and very fast auto-focus. I don’t know about the latest Android phone, but iPhone 6s is must better than Note 2 that I used regarding battery and camera.