Data, diversity, and dexterous digits (Issue 38)

This is a photo of a robotic hand holding a colorful letter block.

Welcome to Issue 38 of the All Turtles newsletter. Each week, we bring you carefully chosen news and analysis about AI, startups, and updates from our product teams. If you like this newsletter (we hope you do!), please subscribe or share with a friend.

Dosages of data

Medical data is rich but inaccessible. Troves of this data are stuck in silos, potentially containing the keys to the next scientific breakthrough, but not if researchers are unable to discover and share it. To ameliorate these issues, big tech is stepping in. Google is launching an initiative to support the National Institute of Health through a program called STRIDES (Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability). It will provide computational infrastructure to the NIH and centralize their data in the cloud. It’s a step toward addressing the challenges of introducing cutting-edge services into a field where tight regulations—necessary for keeping patients safe—can slow the pace of progress.

ReadBiomedical research needs data. Google wants to help (All Turtles)

Same old same old

Follow the money: A lack of diversity in Silicon Valley companies can be traced to the venture capitalists who fund them. Richard Kerby compiled data to show that investors are 82-percent male, nearly 60-percent white male, and most astounding, 40-percent of them graduated from either Stanford or Harvard. This uniformity leads to investments in entrepreneurs who look and think similarly, restricting the types of problems that get solved, and for which population. As Blaize Zerega writes, “Since talent is equally distributed, it is time for opportunity to be so, too.”

ReadFor shame: 40% of VCs attended the same two schools (All Turtles)

Valley of Genius

The rumors about Steve Jobs taking acid before dying, Mark Zuckerberg’s first business card (“I’m the CEO … bitch”), and why Silicon Valley is where it is are just some the tales unearthed by Adam Fisher’s Valley of Genius. Fisher joins host Blaise Zerega to discuss the culture of Silicon Valley and Steve Jobs’ outsized influence upon it, as well as to offer some predictions about its future. From semiconductors to Atari to the PC, their conversation connects the dots to AI, AR, and beyond.

ListenBonus Episode 6: Pirates of Silicon Valley (All Turtles)

Changing hands

Who thought we’d see dexterous robotic hands independently learning and performing complex actions as early as this year? A show of hands, please? OpenAI researchers have made it happen. They built a hand that used AI to teach itself how to handle a colored block, and it can maneuver the object with almost the same precision as human fingers. While its operational abilities are restricted to this one task for the time being, we’ve got to hand it to the OpenAI team: this is an exciting innovation that signals what we can expect from future integrations of AI with robotics.

Read: How Robot Hands are Evolving to Do What Ours Can (New York Times)

The perils of passion

Starting a company from the ground up is anything but glamorous. The dominant SIlicon Valley narrative of young founders achieving astronomic success with passion as their primary fuel rarely, if ever, happens. The truth is far less enticing than triumphant stories of powerhouse companies arising from a few computers in someone’s garage. Yet every entrepreneur needs to be fully aware of what it actually will mean to start a business, and perhaps evaluate whether their idea is better suited for a “product first, company later” approach.

Read‘Entrepreneurship porn’ lures young people with a pretty picture of startup life, but it glosses over the most dangerous parts (Business Insider)

New school of thought

What’s the best way to learn to code? In this episode of Reconsider This, Jon Cifuentes, a cofounder of All Turtles, asks viewers to think beyond the traditional college classroom when it comes to learning how to code. Compelling alternatives include 42 (which has campuses in Paris and Silicon Valley), the Holberton School, and numerous boot camps around the world, all of which offer free or low-cost approaches to gaining valuable skills. (For more on 42, listen to All Turtles Podcast #27, which features Kwame Yamgnane, co-founder and managing director of 42 Silicon Valley.)

WatchReconsider This: Learning to Code (All Turtles)

Tweet of the week

A tip for entrepreneurs—or anyone juggling multiple projects at once…


Octane AI is hiring remotely 🌎
• Marketing Manager

All Turtles is hiring in Tokyo 🇯🇵
• Freelance Writer
• Managing Editor

All Turtles is hiring in Paris 🇫🇷
• Principal UX Designer
• Lead Prototype Developer

All Turtles is hiring in San Francisco 🇺🇸
• Freelance Writer
• Principal UX Writer
• Lead Prototype Developer
• Principal Designer

Please apply, or if anyone you know may be interested, forward this on to them.

That’s all for now. If you have suggestions, comments, or just want to say hi, hit reply—we read every message.