Layer 2 Weekend Thoughts: On Truth, Voice, Long Drives and Blood

Each weekend “Layer 2” will cover recent news and discoveries. If I’m lucky “Layer 2” will not devolve into a cynically devised “listicle” (but it may retain list-like qualities of what I has caught my attention from recent news). Everyday something is going on, and it seems as if overnight change has occurred but if we look deeper, we’ll notice more. “Layer 2” hopes to look at recent events and reinforce the idea that there is more under the surface.

Cumulative change is the compounding of perhaps countless small efforts driven by either good or bad intentions, like a fortune after years of careful savings or heart transplant surgery after years of bad dieting, drinking and lack of activity. Either way the “truth will out”. That phrase comes from a play.

“Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might fail of the knowing me: it is a wise father that knows his own child. Well, old man, I will tell you news of your son: give me your blessing: truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man’s son may, but at the length truth will out. ”

— Merchant of Venice

In Merchant of Venice, one Lancelot Gabbo, thinking about leaving an awful job, has a moment of dark jesting with his almost blind father Old Gobbo who came to look for him, only to stand before him and not recognize his son. Soon enough, Lancelot relents on his cruelty and said “at the length truth will out”.

These days the phrase “the truth will out” is a way for us to say that lies are uncovered and truths are revealed eventually. The same goes for markets and tales of technological progress. Mr. Market tells us us two kinds of stories: lies and postponed truths. The former is in abundance when there is plenty of money around, attracting con-artists and brigands. The latter includes the unfolding of economic and technical progress delivered after years of work.

What can we can see in the markets starts with being able to see and know ourselves, including one’s state of mind, strengths and weaknesses. The best of Mr. Market’s sons and daughters understands this first principle: that it’s tough to fool someone who is honest about what they know and don’t know and about what they can or can’t do in the present. This can lead to a fantastic long game, a long series of postponed truths unfolding over time.

One man’s long game truth about himself in two parts:

Part 1: Gary V and his truly long game — There is a post he made in 2008 about acknowledging and embracing weaknesses, in order to help us focus on strengths. Many knew him to be a wine merchant and one of the first cohort of influencers. He knew more than that about himself.

Part 2: Gary V talking in 2018 about why voice will win. He still knows wine but because he knew his personal truth years ago, about his strengths and weaknesses, that helped him achieve many things over the past decade. My one tech takeaway is that new voice habits, rooted in old habits, will grow, as surely as texting did decades ago.

One off-hand comment Vaynerchuk made prompted me to do a deep-dive on Amazon’s “flywheel” and voice for The Big Stack. And it’s still early days.

Long road ahead as The Big Stack plays long-haul trucker:

Another technology also in early days took another step forward in self-driving tech.

China’s Alibaba says that it has built the world’s first self-driving vehicle guided by solid-state lidar. The vehicle’s a truck; the lidar comes from China’s Robosense…” In the United States there’s a massive shortage of truck drivers.

What really matters is that Alibaba is embracing a solid-state lidar rather than the big, burly, and costly mechanical alternatives put out by Velodyne, the market leader (and, any day now, by upstate Luminar).”

Exciting news in a specific application as The Stack addresses the long game of solving: the ethics issues (Trolley Problem), future urban and infrastructure design implications of today’s engineering choices and employment. A March 2018 pedestrian fatality in an Uber trial in Arizona is a sharp reminder that the answer to safety question has not been delivered yet. It may all seem obvious in 2028 when everyone is too busy, being driven to wherever they have to go, to slow down and take a hard look back on a long road of wins and losses.

Out damned spot:

The truth has come out about Theranos and there’s a book about it and about just how vulnerable all people, including the biggest and richest, are to social proof and gaming. This is easy to play on people blinded by greed and cognitive biases. Even the most powerful and connected can end up like Lancelot Bobbo’s father, blind to who is really in front of them, if only temporarily. I read that actress Jennifer Lawrence was cast for the film version.

One postponed truth in blood testing tech, however, is in the making for “liquid biopsies” of lung cancer. There is research underway at Dana Farber Cancer Institute (est. 1948 and one of the top hospitals for child and adult cancer care) to develop “a simple blood test [which] can rapidly and accurately detect mutations in two key genes in non-small cell lung tumors”.

The test, known as a liquid biopsy, proved so reliable in the study that the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) this week became the first medical facility in the country to offer it to all patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), either at the time of first diagnosis or of relapse following previous treatment.

The movies coming from this kind of research will be home movies hopefully of happy families, made every year for decades to come.

Last thoughts about the “why” for “Layer 2”: For every short-coming or “weakness” we might have, there might be a strength to help us endure long games of progress. For each tragedy which leaves us diminished, may we draw lessons for triumphs to lift us higher. And for every great fraud or disastrous enterprise, may there also be seeds of truth and prosperity germinating and changing things for the better. Layer 2 is about these stories.

Originally published at on June 2, 2018.


-- Future + Fiction + Finance

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