My dog ate it

Unbabel Newsletter #006 — 6 Dec 2017

Greetings, galactic subscriber

I’m kind of cranky this morning, and this time, it has nothing to do with Mr. Carrozo (Ed: it better not).

My dog ate my Star Wars socks. I’m now starting to think we should have called him Chewbacca. The nickname Chewie would definitely suit him.

But, enough of my randomly crazy and upset Wookiee. We have more important issues to discuss in this newsletter.

For example, when did we stop “making love” and start “having sex”?

Or, how do we unify the internet?

Or even, how language is a barrier to economic growth in the European Union.

Oh, and before you fling yourself into the highly addictive content we have below, check the events where our team is going to be in the following weeks:

Have a great week (hopefully with unchewed and clean socks),

Maria Almeida

P.S.: If you missed our exclusive webinar on how high growth companies are scaling customer service last week, you can now watch it here.

Original strip by Tetley Clarke

Consume more content 📝


“Full understand”: The new language of the Lesvos refugee camp — on the tiny Greek island of Lesvos, an overcrowded detention centre of refugees from places like Iraq, Uganda, Pakistan and Burma, is seeing an accelerated evolution of English, now beginning to develop its own unique grammar and idiom. A remarkable story of adaptation as people attempt to survive a worsening crisis.

The Rise and Fall of the English Sentence — English, with its culture of writing developed over many centuries, has displayed a fondness for stacking clauses onto one another to create paragraph-long sentences. But is that trend dying out?

Nearly every country on earth is named after one of four things — geographic features, tribal names and a VIP are among the four.

Why the Danish Town of Aabenraa Refuses to Change Its Name — cultural sensitivity and just plain alphabetical ordering issues.

From inboxing to thought showers: how business bullshit took over — let’s circle back on this one later.

How many ancient civilizations have a written language we can’t decipher? — it’s not just the heads on Easter Island we’re unsure of. We don’t really understand the Rongorongo glyphs left behind by the Rapa Nui people who made them.


The impossibility of intelligence explosion — Google’s François Chollet says that an independent, wild intelligence explosion is impossible because we misunderstand what intelligence truly is — something that is fundamentally linked to the specific sensations, environments, upbringings and specific problems to be solved by “us”.

A Year After Pledging Openness, Apple Still Falls Behind On AI — BuzzFeed feature on “the NSA of AI” — Apple. Despite hiring highly respected professors and publicly pledging to engage more with academia, dozens of experts claim there is still a large gap between the company’s notoriously secretive business practices and the more open values of research and peer-reviewed publishing. But there are others who see state-of-the-art developments instantly launching on a platform with hundreds of millions of users as potentially more valid — and lucrative.


Creation Myth: Xerox PARC, Apple, and the truth about innovation. — in 1979, a much-fabled visit by Steve Jobs to the infamous Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, led him to see the first use of a computer mouse and movable windows on a screen. Jobs would run back to Apple, just a year away from IPO, to direct his entire team to build the Mac around the concepts he saw at PARC. But would Xerox really have gotten there if Apple hadn’t launched it first?

Has the Silicon Valley hype cycle run its course? — more sirens of a coming backlash against Big Tech. Vanity Fair wonders if the sun is setting on the golden age of Silicon Valley.

The electricity used to mine bitcoin this year is bigger than the annual usage of 159 countries — including Ireland. Yikes.

The Innovation Campus: Building Better Ideas — NY Times features asks if architecture can spur creativity. Universities are investing in big, high-tech buildings in the hope of evoking big, high-tech thinking.


How Peter Thiel and the Stanford Review Built a Silicon Valley Empire — before the hedgefunds, PayPal, Facebook, Gawker lawsuit and Trump-backing, Peter Thiel founded The Review, a conservative campus publication at Stanford University. In the 30 years since, he’s cultivated successive editors and other alumni to become a small, but very tight-knit network with a net worth extending into the billions and dozens of industries.

Sam Altman: American Equity — Sam Altman of Y Combinator (an Unbabel investor) says that every US citizen should get an annual share of US GDP as a way to combat systemic, worsening inequality, and to redistribute wealth more evenly in a new contract between government and citizens.


How to prepare for a one-on-one meeting as an employee — an excellent guide for how to approach your manager in these crucial periods of time carved out for just the two of you.

A Two-Step Process to Improve Your Thinking — a simple, lightweight approach to decision-making from Warren Buffett’s business partner, Charlie Munger.

Managers, screw the Golden Rule — treating employees like you want to be treated could be a surefire path to disaster. Because you’re not empathising with them. You’re empathising with your hypothetical self.

The man who sold shares of himself — what drove a man to give 633 investors complete control over his major life decisions?


How the sandwich consumed Britain — just the most wonderfully written article we’ve read in a very long time.

The Tree of Life Explorer — all of Earth’s known life in one giant interactive chart. Woah.

The Voyager Golden Record 3LP Box Set — never before released to the public, now on pre-order.

Metaphysics of metamorphosis — the case for science-based metaphysics and metaphysics-based science (bear with me), looking beyond the essence of “thingness” and embracing the weird, complex world we live in. Guaranteed to liven up your dinner party conversations, or having people wonder what was in that cup of tea you just drank. It’s one of the two.