Rami's Readings #26 - Half Year Special!
What I learned in the past 6 months of writing this newsletter, the latest on LLMs, India, Russia, Global Real Estate, and more.
Welcome to Rami’s Readings #26 - a weekly digest of interesting articles, videos, Twitter threads from my various sources across the Internet. Expect a list of reads covering technology, business, culture, fashion, travel and more. Learn about what I do at ramisayar.com/about.
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So. Quite an eventful week! Modi visited the United States leading to relaxation around Indian nationals and H1-B visas (happy news for many of my colleagues). The search effort for Titan ended with revelations of an implosion. An attempted coup (still unclear?) ended with Prigozhin (Wagner) “transferring” to Belarus after his forces got within a few hours of Moscow. The crisis in Russia kept me glued to Twitter the entire weekend.
🥳 Half Year Special!
Stepping into the six-month milestone of my weekly newsletter, it’s time to take stock. Here are the lessons I’ve learned along the way:
On habit forming: maintaining an established habit is easier than starting one. The more my close family and friends understood my commitment and became readers; the easier it became to have space to write every Sunday. I am grateful for their support, which helped solidify this habit. Even on vacation this weekend in NYC, no explanation was required for me to sit in a coffee shop (Sweetleaf for the curious) to send out this newsletter.
On writing: practice consistently. For aspiring writers, the most important step is to start. The fear of the blank page is daunting. Just start. Your first draft or even your first publication will not meet your expectations, and that is okay. I observed my own writing improve over time, particularly when I read my first few.
On recall: semantic search remains challenging over personal documents. There have been numerous times when I've found myself attempting to remember which newsletter contained an article or paper I had shared. The best solution I found is to use the “site:” operator against my own subdomain.
On Substack: I have yet to find a platform that rivals Substack's simplicity and efficiency for writing and sharing newsletters. My positive experience convinced me to invest in their latest fundraising round. However, the jury is still out on Substack Notes.
I will celebrate with a cupcake tonight! Just don’t tell
📈 Top 3 Newsletters
According to Substack’s statistics:
🤖 AI Reads
Notes: Audio × PaLM. Paper. Another impressive model.
Notes: From Berkeley AI Research, a permissively licensed reproduction of LLaMA.
We are releasing 3B, 7B and 13B models trained on 1T tokens. We provide PyTorch and JAX weights of pre-trained OpenLLaMA models, as well as evaluation results and comparison against the original LLaMA models.
Notes: Biased, but an interesting read nonetheless from a16z. I pointed out in this newsletter that the developer experience of in-context learning & prompt engineering is superior to fine-tuning or adapting a LLM.
It’s usually easier than the alternative: training or fine-tuning the LLM itself. You don’t need a specialized team of ML engineers to do in-context learning. You also don’t need to host your own infrastructure or buy an expensive dedicated instance from OpenAI.
Notes: Additional scholarship funding for US-UK study.
💼 Business Reads
Notes: Must read from HRW.
96 percent of subscribers in India use their mobile devices to access the internet, while only 4 percent have access to fixed line internet. Mobile connectivity is even more critical in rural areas, as 94 percent of fixed line connections are in urban areas. […] Internet shutdowns also make it much harder for rural communities to conduct basic banking, pay utility bills, and to apply for and access official documents.
Notes: Side effect the attempted coup caused an instantaneous 10% drop in the ruble. Expecting further decline on Monday.
Notes: The saga continues.
In 2020, a UN panel found that Ghosn’s detention in a Japanese jail for more than 100 days was neither necessary nor reasonable and violated his rights. The decision to arrest Ghosn four times in a row so as to extend his detention was “fundamentally unfair,” according to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
Notes: New York City and Dubai ascending. Where’s Australia? HNWI inflows do not appear to be affecting luxury prices.
Notes: I do not have sympathy for CRE landlords, but the sums are monumental and a crash will have a domino effect on the rest of the economy.
That is all for this week.
I wrote a disclosure for this newsletter in #7. Please consider reading it.
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