Edition: #12 of Vol 1
These are the series of stories and headlines we are tracking in the Grey Swan Guild’s Global League of Sensemakers’ Newsroom. The selection and the news wraps are intended to shed light and a new lens on a complicated and complex world week.
April is National Poetry Month. On this 25th anniversary of the celebration and in times of uncertainty and great concern, we can rely on poems to offer wisdom, uplifting ideas, and language that prompts reflection that can help us slow down and center mentally, emotionally, spiritually. The organizers have adapted to the circumstances. Discover 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month in the Virtual Classroom and 30 Ways to Celebrate the 25th Annual National Poetry Month at Home or Online.
Losing Voice. Now can the following lines be considered poetry? Truth is these pickup lines have been generated by an AI. Artificial intelligence is finally learning how to flirt, even if one might find the result somehow chaotic!
“I’m losing my voice from all the screaming your hotness is causing me to do”
“I Love You, I Love You, I Love You To The confines of death and disease, the legions of earth rejoices. Woe be to the world!”
“You’re looking good today. Want snacks?”
The Day of the Swan. Not only is April Poetry and Romance month. It will also be a year on April 15 since the Grey Swan Guild was formed in response to the worldwide COVID-19 Pandemic. The Guild has grown into a leading volunteer network of over 1000 leaders and members. In addition to our two major production waves, dozens of online events, and 150 publications, we have decided to create The Day of the Swan — a 24-hour relay of continuous events, each led by Guild members, to shed light on where we have been and where we are going in the world. The event is free and open to all. Join us April 15 on Zoom and Clubhouse.
Sensemaking tools. In concert with our mission to make sense of particular societal, cultural, economic, marketplace and workplace challenges, we have developed 5 sensemaking lenses: #LIVE #LEARN #LOVE #LEAD #LIMINAL. We want to provide sensemaking tools that will electrify your thinking and deepen all of our appreciation for forces that shape the world! Our Weekly News Wrap is a core piece of that effort. What follows is The Great, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of what we observed and analyzed this week.
Grey Swan Guild Club. We always love to hear your input, experiences from all over the world, and multi-disciplinary insights on the latest world developments. Please leave us a note, or even better, join us Sundays in the Grey Swan Guild Club on Clubhouse to discuss many of these headlines. And as legend has it — contrary to Fight Club, “The first rule of Clubhouse is you do talk about Clubhouse on Clubhouse!” One of the first headlines we will discuss this week is the fact the one-year-old social audio app valued at $1 billion, is announcing its new monetization feature. The app will now allow users to send money to their favorite creators and speakers on the platform.
The Great 😇
- An inspiring and diverse cast! In an announcement earlier this week, SpaceX’s Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian rocket ride to orbit Earth, disclosed the final two members of the four-person crew that is expected to undergo a historic journey into space aboard SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. Jared Isaacman is a 38-year-old tech billionaire, entrepreneur, philanthropist, pilot, and the CEO of Pennsylvania payment-processing company Shift4 Payments. Hayley Arceneaux is a 29-year-old childhood cancer survivor and physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research. She will be the youngest American to fly into space and the first with a prosthetic body part. Dr. Sian Proctor is a geoscientist, science communication specialist, and analog astronaut. Chris Sembroski, 41, is a Lockheed Martin employee and Air Force veteran. This diverse cast is truly an Inspiration!
- Flagship initiatives! European innovation project Flagships will deploy the world’s first commercial cargo transport vessel operating on hydrogen, plying the river Seine in Paris with the vessel’s operations due to start sometime this year. Green and sustainable shipping is a prerequisite for reaching national and international emission reduction targets. Such ships powered by renewable hydrogen will make a substantial contribution to reducing emissions from shipping and improving air quality in cities and other densely populated areas. More and more ocean tech companies such as Running Tides, Safety Net Technologies, and Whale Safe are currently trying to prove that conservation, sustainable fishing, and carbon sequestration can also be profitable. We love to see business and sustainability align for the better good.
- How the brain works. UCSF researchers set a new standard for decoding speech directly from brain activity, redefining what’s possible for brain-to-text decoding, with error rates as low as 3%. It’s a significant step toward UCSF’s long-term goal of developing a prosthesis to restore speech communication for people who have lost the ability to speak. It also illustrates how new machine learning techniques can accelerate brain-computer interface (BCI) applications. UCSF sponsor Facebook Reality Labs is precisely exploring how non-invasive BCI can redefine the AR/VR experience. New research opens the path to non-invasive silent speech interface for the next computing platform. Whole brain emulation is also a topic that captivates The Human Connectome Project researchers. They intend to map the brain connective structure made of a unique, intricate pattern of 86 billion neurons, and to unlock immortality. Meanwhile in a cave in France, 15 persons self-isolated for 40 days without daylight in order to explore how we construct our notion of time. They also explore functional synchronicity with each other. The Mission Deep Time podcast narrates their real-time adventure.
The Good 😀
- Wind of change. After extreme office culture has led to several deaths, the Japanese are beginning to rethink the tradition. For a long time, employees refrained from taking holiday because their bosses did not take holiday and they were afraid to disrupt the group harmony. Almost 60% of Japanese workers cited ‘feeling guilty’ as the main reason for not taking their entitled holiday leave. Japanese work habits are slowly changing as the younger generation feels vacation deprived. And the government pursues its goal of boosting rates of taken annual leave to 70%, conveying the message that taking time off is important to refresh employees both mentally and physically.
- #Liminal. “I care much more about being with people who make me feel whole now. The pandemic scraped away all facades we’ve built around our lives”. The New York Times offers a beautiful interactive report aiming to illustrate how human beings changed during the pandemic. Will we go back to living the way we did before? And what if we do? Do we risk losing something we’ve learned from one long and terrifying year? And what if we don’t fit into that life anymore? One good thing to notice: the pandemic shifted how donors give. Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott (ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos) gave $6 billion in unrestricted contributions last year to hundreds of groups for COVID-19 relief and racial equity. Through pilot programs, cities such as San Francisco are giving checks to artists in hopes of allowing them to focus on their creative output instead of having a second job. Two years after the dramatic fire that destroyed most of Notre-Dame de Paris (April 2019), we estimate 15 to 20 years and 1,000 oaks will be needed to complete the cathedral’s restoration. Several architects were in favor of modern sustainable materials, but French President Macron opted for a reconstitution closer to the original gothic building with a spire made of 150-year-old oaks. For Easter, a small committee ceremony took place in Notre-Dame with a live broadcast for the faithful to enjoy.
- Innovation from the nirvana… Toronto-based organization Over the bridge has created a new Nirvana song using artificial-intelligence software to approximate the singer-guitarist’s songwriting. The tune, titled “Drowned in the Sun” is part of Lost Tapes of the 27 Club, a project featuring songs written and mostly performed by machines in the styles of other musicians who died at 27: Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Amy Winehouse. Speaking of Kurt, last summer a special horse named Kurt was born in Texas. He was a clone made from DNA that had been frozen for 40 years and came from an endangered wild horse species from Central Asia. In December, a black-footed ferret named Elizabeth Ann was born in a conservation center in Colorado. She is the first-ever endangered American animal to be cloned. She is a win for biodiversity and for genetic rescue! In other innovation news, a week before cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase is set to go public, U.S. financial group State Street announced it will lend its trading technology to a digital currency trading venue set to go live mid-2021. The venue will offer cash cryptocurrency trading for investors through their existing bank relationships. It means a huge step forward for the institutionalization of crypto markets!
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