The Long Game 118: Lengthening a Woman's Fertility, Location & Wellbeing, How to Future, Most Stuff Won't Work
💤 What if you Don’t need 8 Hours of Sleep, Emotion Perception, Rucking, Stop Trying, The Age of Algorithmic Anxiety, Instagram, TikTok and the Three Trends, and Much More!
Hi there, it’s Mehdi Yacoubi, co-founder at Vital, and this is The Long Game Newsletter. To receive it in your inbox each week, subscribe here:
In this episode, we explore:
Lengthening a woman's fertility may extend her life as well
How you feel depends on where you are
How to future
Most stuff won’t work
The end of social media and the rise of recommendation media
Let’s dive in!
🧬♾ Lengthening a Woman's Fertility May Extend her Life as Well
A recent and important paper looked into ways of restoring female fertility past a certain age. The abstract:
Reproductive aging in female mammals is an irreversible process associated with declining oocyte quality, which is the rate-limiting factor to fertility.
Here, we show that this loss of oocyte quality with age accompanies declining levels of the prominent metabolic cofactor nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+).
Treatment with the NAD+ metabolic precursor nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) rejuvenates oocyte quality in aged animals, leading to restoration in fertility, and this can be recapitulated by transgenic overexpression of the NAD+-dependent deacylase SIRT2, though deletion of this enzyme does not impair oocyte quality.
These benefits of NMN extend to the developing embryo, where supplementation reverses the adverse effect of maternal age on developmental milestones.
These findings suggest that late-life restoration of NAD+ levels represents an opportunity to rescue female reproductive function in mammals.
This piece is a good complement to understanding why it’s a big deal:
"When a woman is in her late 20s or early 30s, the rest of her tissue is functioning at peak performance, but her ovaries are already showing overt signs of aging," Garrison told an audience at Life Itself, a health and wellness event presented this year in partnership with CNN.
"Yet most women learn about their ovaries and ovarian function when they go to use them for the first time and find out they're geriatric," she added.
The consequences of aged ovaries extend beyond fertility, especially during menopause, the period of time when a person stops having a menstrual cycle.
"When the ovaries stop working due to menopause, they stop making a cocktail of hormones important for general health," Garrison told CNN. "Even in healthy women, it dramatically increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, cognitive decline, insomnia, osteoporosis, weight gain, arthritis -- those are medically established facts."
For more on menopause & female HRT, check out this episode, starting from 01:03:12 Menstruation, PMS & Menopause.
For more on NAD: NAD and NAD precursors: help or hype?
🧘♀️ How You Feel Depends on Where You Are
Picture the last five cities you’ve been to. Don’t you immediately get a certain feeling attached to them? For me, it’s immediate; as soon as I think of a city, I can rate my wellbeing attached to it.
This article shows that I’m not alone! New research uses GPS data from cell phones to draw connections between people’s location and their mood.
The researchers discovered that people’s longstanding psychological traits predict where they will spend their time. No surprise there: Under normal circumstances, it makes sense that our personalities dictate where we will be. Extroverts prefer bars, cafes, parties and restaurants, while introverts prefer to cocoon with their laptops at home.
What’s intriguing, especially now that so many people are stuck at home, is that the places we find ourselves in also shape us. ”Controlling for a person’s personality, we also saw that many of the places they spent time in affected how they thought and felt in the moment,” said Prof. Harari. “People feel more extroverted, more agreeable, more conscientious, when they are in other places, compared to when they are at home,” she said, while “people feel more disorganized and chaotic when they are at home.”
That’s a finding business leaders might ponder as they consider whether to make remote working the norm after the pandemic subsides. When people spent time in social environments, they also felt more compassionate, open-minded and kind compared to when they were at home.
🧠 Better Thinking
📡 How to Future
How do you predict the future? It’s impossible, but by being a careful observer of the present, you’ll already be ahead of almost everyone else.
I loved this piece by Kevin Kelly:
How to future: A good futurist focuses on the 3 time phases: past, present, future.
The best futurists I know are really keen historians and study the past to see the future. They look carefully at the past because most of what will happen tomorrow is already happening today. In addition, most of the things in the future will be things that don’t change, so they are already here. For example, most of things surrounding you right now are old technologies — wood tables, concrete blocks, water pipes, flooring, electrical wires, wool carpets, etc. They were invented centuries ago, but today they fill 90% of our lives. Maybe only 10% is new stuff. The past is the bulk of our lives, and it will be the bulk in the future. It is highly likely that in 100 years or even 500 years, the bulk of the stuff surrounding someone will be old stuff, stuff that is being invented today. All this stuff, plus our human behaviors, which are very old, will continue in the future. We will be shaped by our long past as animals, as humanoids, as people walking out of Africa. That momentum will continue. Studying the past and its behavior gives us great insight into our future.
The second phase is to study the now. It is often said that most futurists are really predicting the present. It turns out that the present is very hard to see. First the present is obscured by the noise of 8 billion lives looking for attention, and it is overwhelmed by the flashy glitter of the new. Mostly the now is obscured by our deep assumptions and prejudices which makes it very difficult to actually see what is going on. We have labels which are handy, but can often misled us. Are people on average today happy? Why is it so hard to tell? So a good futurist spends a lot of time trying to decipher the present and to try to see it through the mask of present-day biases. Most of conventional wisdom is true, but sometimes it is very wrong. I sometimes think of “seeing the present” as trying on alien eyes; looking at the world as if I were an alien from another planet. “So tell me, why do humans listen to music? Why do those air vibrations make them so emotional?” Trying to see beyond the immediate cycles of news is a challenge, because rather than being on top of things, you need to be at the bottom of things. And these days, we need to get a planetary view of things, which is incredibly difficult. All in all, perceiving the present as it really is, is perhaps the greatest challenge for seeing the future.
⚡️ Startup Stuff
🚢 Most Stuff Won’t Work
I liked this reminder from Jack Butcher, especially if you’re pre-PMF. There is no other way to put it:
Some other good reads:
The only thing that matters; TL;DR: It’s the Market you’re in
How to kickstart and scale a consumer business—Step 5: RETAIN: Iterate until enough people stick around 🔒
📚 What I Read
🏁 The End of Social Media and the Rise of Recommendation Media
Why friend graphs can‘t compete in an algorithmic world.
Last week, Meta announced that the Facebook newsfeed would be shifting towards an algorithmic, recommendation-based model of content distribution. This announcement marked the most recent example of a major platform to formally make this shift, while other major platforms, including Meta’s Instagram, have been headed in this direction for a while. Given Facebook’s relevance as the world’s largest social network, this change signals the end of social media as we’ve known it for the past decade and a half.
There has been backlash. Kylie Jenner, one of the world’s most influential users of social media, recently posted about her displeasure with Instagram prioritizing recommended videos over photos from friends. With more than 360 million followers on Instagram, Jenner’s influence can’t be ignored; the last time she complained about a change to a social network, Snap’s stock price fell by 7%. It’s therefore likely no coincidence that Instagram’s CEO, Adam Mosseri, posted a video discussing some of these recent changes and plans for the future. In it, Mosseri acknowledges that the world is changing, and that Instagram must be willing to change along with it.
And yet, these shifts towards algorithmic feeds over friend feeds make sense. Platforms like the massively popular (and still growing) TikTok and YouTube put far less emphasis on friends and social graphs in favor of carefully curated, magical algorithmic experiences that match the perfect content for the right people at the exact right time. This is recommendation media, and it’s the new standard for content distribution on the internet.
Pair with: Seeing Like an Algorithm
😰 The Age of Algorithmic Anxiety
Interacting online today means being besieged by system-generated recommendations. Do we want what the machines tell us we want?
Late last year, Valerie Peter, a twenty-three-year-old student in Manchester, England, realized that she had an online-shopping problem. It was more about what she was buying than how much. A fashion trend of fuzzy leg warmers had infiltrated Peter’s social-media feeds—her TikTok For You tab, her Instagram Explore page, her Pinterest recommendations. She’d always considered leg warmers “ugly, hideous, ridiculous,” she told me recently, and yet soon enough she “somehow magically ended up with a pair of them,” which she bought online at the push of a button, on an almost subconscious whim. (She wore them only a few times. “They’re in the back of my closet,” she said.) The same thing later happened with Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry, after a cast member on the U.K. reality show “Love Island” wore a necklace from the brand onscreen. Van Cleef’s Art Nouveau-ish flower bracelets made their way onto Peter’s TikTok feed, and she found herself browsing the brand’s products. The bombardment made her question: “Is this me? Is this my style?” she said.
In her confusion, Peter wrote an e-mail seeking advice from Rachel Tashjian, a fashion critic who writes a popular newsletter called “Opulent Tips.” “I’ve been on the internet for the last 10 years and I don’t know if I like what I like or what an algorithm wants me to like,” Peter wrote. She’d come to see social networks’ algorithmic recommendations as a kind of psychic intrusion, surreptitiously reshaping what she’s shown online and, thus, her understanding of her own inclinations and tastes. “I want things I truly like not what is being lowkey marketed to me,” her letter continued.
Pair with: The Best Way To Find Your Style 2022
📈 Instagram, TikTok, and the Three Trends
A must-read piece by Ben Thompson.
The three trends, in short:
🤡 The Creative World’s Bullshit Industrial Complex
Don’t fall into the trap of being an expert before you’re ready. We have enough of those.
As editor of 99U, my inbox is (thankfully) filled with pitches of all kinds. Mainly, writers who’d like to contribute to this site and speakers who’d like to throw their hat in the ring for our yearly 99U Conference.
And most times, when we dig deeper into a specific person’s pitch, his or her purported authority is more of a facade to make them appear authoritative — and any ideas are actually a mosaic of people also trying to appear authoritative in a disconcerting house of cards.
They are what philosopher Harry Frankfurt would call “bullshitters.” Those that are giving advice for the sake of giving advice, without any regard as to how it is actually implemented, if it can even be implemented at all. “It’s not important to [the bullshitter] what the world really is like,” he says in a short video documentary about the phenomenon (below). “What is important is how he’d like to represent himself.”
Pair with: the thread apocalypse and the misguided growth hacks people use, thinking it will give them legitimacy. Instead, Reject the Algorithm.
🍭 Brain Food
👁 Emotion Perception
Here’s a thought-provoking paper for you. It’s something I have noticed anecdotally in my life. The abstract:
Perception of emotion in the face is a key component of human social cognition and is considered vital for many domains of life; however, little is known about how this ability differs across the lifespan for men and women.
We addressed this question with a large community sample (N = 100,257) of persons ranging from younger than 15 to older than 60 years of age. Participants were viewers of the television show “Tout le Monde Joue”, and the task was presented on television, with participants responding via their mobile devices.
Applying latent variable modeling, and establishing measurement invariance between males and females and across age, we found that, for both males and females, emotion perception abilities peak between the ages of 15 and 30, with poorer performance by younger adults and declining performance after the age of 30.
In addition, we show a consistent advantage by females across the lifespan, which decreases in magnitude with increasing age. This large scale study with a wide range of people and testing environments suggests these effects are largely robust. Implications are discussed.
Another challenge for longevity researchers!
🎥 What I’m Watching
💤 What if you Don’t need 8 Hours of Sleep?
⛔ The Harder You Try, The Worse It Gets
🔧 The Tool of the Week
🥾 Rucking Accessories
I love walking and recently came across the concept of “rucking.”
Rucking is a form of exercise, and the concept is simple: it's walking or hiking a set distance while carrying a weight on your back.
It’s an easy way to make walking more demanding physically.
Let me know if you’re a rucking enthusiast!
🪐 Quote I’m Pondering
The real test of intelligence is the degree to which you are willing to "non-conform" in order to do the right thing.
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