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Contrary Newsletter #7: The Acceleration of Artificial Intelligence, plus a deep dive on Stripe and memos on Substack, Boom Supersonic, Memora Health, and Goldfinch

Published about 1 year ago • 2 min read

What's New:

Foundations & Frontiers

With recent advances in machine learning, we could be entering a period of technological progression more impactful than the Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution combined. The development of transformer architectures and massive deep learning models trained on thousands of GPUs has led to the emergence of smart, complex programs capable of understanding and producing language in a manner indistinguishable from humans.

The success of these models and their rapid improvement through incremental scaling and training suggests that the learning architectures available today may soon be sufficient to bring about a general artificial intelligence. It could be that new models will be required to produce AGI, but if existing models are on the right track, the path to artificial general intelligence could instead amount to an economics problem — what does it take to get the money and energy necessary to train a sufficiently large model?

At a time of such mind-blowing advancement, it’s important to scrutinize the foundations underpinning technologies that are sure to change the world as we know it.

Contrary Research

Contrary Research publishes thoughtful analysis of the best private technology companies. Here are the latest reports published this week:

Stripe: Stripe is a developer-oriented payments company that enables businesses of all sizes to accept credit card payments easily and quickly. Having launched in 2010, Stripe has significantly impacted the payments industry and is used by companies such as Amazon, Instacart, Zoom, Slack, and Shopify. Millions of businesses of all sizes — from startups to Fortune 500s — now use Stripe to accept payments, send payouts and manage their businesses online. Stripe’s aim is to build and modernize online financial infrastructure in the service of its stated mission to “increase the GDP of the internet”. Read the full report here.

Memora Health: The US healthcare system can be confusing and unnecessarily time-consuming to navigate. Patients have to deal with a fragmented network of healthcare providers and ever-increasing costs, while providers must wrangle with archaic technology stacks and large quantities of administrative paperwork. Memora Health helps healthcare organizations digitize and automate care journeys. The company uses machine learning to convert fragmented healthcare messaging and workflow data into smart modules that enable clinicians to deliver care more continuously. Read the full report here.

Boom Supersonic: Boom Supersonic is a commercial airplane manufacturer that builds supersonic airliners designed for speed, safety, and sustainability. Boom Supersonic was founded on the philosophy that we needed to overcome the challenges of supersonic passenger flight, not surrender to them. The company aims to make supersonic aircraft affordable for business travel. Its ultimate goal is a routine supersonic flight for everyone. Read the full report here.

Substack: The advent of the internet drove publishing costs effectively to zero, allowing writers to self-publish content and promote it to millions of people. Substack is a subscription-based newsletter publishing platform for independent writers. Substack makes it simple for a writer to start an email newsletter and for readers to find and follow writers whose writing they love to read and support. Read the full report here.

Goldfinch: The IFC estimates that 40% of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries cannot meet their financing needs, and many of them are not able to access traditional banking services. In the years since the emergence of decentralized finance (DeFi), a range of decentralized financial services have been created to expand financial services to people and businesses that are otherwise unable to access traditional banking. Goldfinch is a decentralized credit platform that broadens the pool of potential lenders beyond just banks. Read the full report here.


What do companies like Vercel, HashiCorp, and Sourcegraph all have in common? As developer-centric tools, they're focused on building communities for their customers. Join us tomorrow, March 21st for a virtual event with leaders from all of these companies, and our very own VP of Product at Contrary. If you’re an ambitious builder, PLG enthusiast, or customer-obsessed founder — register here. Space is limited, so sign up soon!

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