5.2.2023

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Tuesday, May 2, and we're covering details of JPMorgan's purchase of First Republic Bank, a breakthrough in mind-reading technology, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

First Republic Takeover

JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $10.6B to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to acquire First Republic Bank yesterday, marking the second-largest bank failure in US history. JPMorgan will assume control of about $92B in customer deposits, $173B in outstanding loans, and $30B in securities. The FDIC, which seized First Republic early yesterday, estimates its insurance fund will suffer a loss of roughly $13B.

 

The San Francisco-based bank is the third to fail this year, with Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank collapsing in March. First Republic was known for catering to wealthy clients, with many of its accounts holding more than $250K—the insurance limit set by the FDIC. In March, the bank received a $30B funding package from major US banks, including JPMorgan. However, following previous bank failures, panicked investors withdrew more than $100B in deposits.

 

First Republic was ranked as the 14th largest bank in the US at the end of 2022, with consolidated assets of nearly $213B. Account holders at First Republic became customers of JPMorgan upon acquisition.

 

Semantic Decoder

Researchers have revealed a new artificial intelligence system capable of translating a person's brain activity into a continuous stream of text in a noninvasive way for the first time. New research from the University of Texas at Austin shows the brain-computer interface can generate word sequences that recover the meaning of perceived speech, imagined speech, and brain responses while watching silent videos. 


Unlike previous language-decoding systems, the new decoder doesn't rely on surgical implants. The study focused on three participants whose brain activity was measured using an fMRI scanner, which utilizes changes in blood flow to produce brain scans, as they listened to podcasts, thought about stories, and watched short silent films.

 

A large language model (see 101), similar to OpenAI’s GPT-4 and Google’s Bard, then matched patterns in the participants' brains to words and phrases they heard and translated the brain's response to hearing new words into corresponding text. The decoded text is not a word-for-word transcript but rather a gist of a person's thoughts.

 

Seaweed Blob Arrives

A 15 million-ton, 5,000-mile-wide patch of seaweed known as the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt is making landfall throughout the southern Atlantic and Caribbean coasts, disrupting vacations and marine activities as it collects and rots along the shore. An annual open-sea phenomenon, this year's crop is the largest on record (see map) and is expected to inundate shorelines for months.

 

While the macroalgae have been observed in the central Atlantic—an area known as the Sargasso Sea—for centuries, its levels were inconsequential until 2011, when scientists first noted a spike in growth. The yellowish-brown organism is kept afloat by oxygen-filled bladders the size of berries, providing shelter for small marine life.

 

Its exponential growth, likely due to an uptick in nutrient-rich wastewater flows from the Mississippi, Amazon, and Congo river systems, now presents a nuisance and potential hazard to sensitive beachgoers at a steep cost to cities looking to keep the beaches clear. Watch a breakdown of the algae here

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In partnership with Monogram

A Surgical Robotic Company Eyeing Nasdaq

 

As an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Doug Unis performed hundreds of surgeries every year. But he found the methods severely outdated: manual handsaws and eyeball measurements to prepare bones for one-size-fits-all implants. In his mind, no wonder over 100,000 joint replacements fail each year. 

 

That’s exactly why Dr. Unis founded Monogram. With the help of advanced surgical robots and personalized, 3D-printed implants, Monogram aims to make knee and hip replacement surgeries safer, less invasive, and more precise. That’s potentially a big deal, as 50% of knee replacement surgeries are projected to involve robotics by 2027 (up from just 12% today). 


And you can invest in Monogram before their planned Nasdaq listing. If you’re interested in becoming a Monogram shareholder, the last day to fund your investment is 5/10.

 

Disclosure: This is a paid advertisement for Monogram Orthopedics’ Regulation A+ offering. Learn more at invest.monogramorthopedics.com/disclaimers 

Please support our sponsors!

In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Writers Guild of America members go on strike after failing to reach new compensation deal with TV and film producers (More) | See top looks from last night's Met Gala 2023 red carpet (More)

> Snoop Dogg joins film producer Neko Sparks' bid to purchase NHL team Ottawa Senators; purchase price could top $1B and would make Sparks the NHL's first Black owner (More)

> Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian folk rock legend, dies at 84 (More) | Aerosmith announces 40-date "Peace Out" North American farewell tour (More)

 

Science & Technology

> Geoffrey Hinton, previous winner of the top prize for computer scientists and a pioneer in AI, leaves Google to warn about the pace of AI adoption (More) | Report finds almost 50 digital news outlets almost entirely written by AI (More)

> Astronomers discover two new Earth-like planets roughly 140 light-years away, with one orbiting its host star every 18 days and the other every 28 days; they are two of about 330 exoplanets discovered by NASA's TESS mission (More)

> Twenty California condors have died in recent weeks, with laboratory tests confirming at least 13 deaths came from avian flu; deaths represent roughly 4% of the known population of the critically endangered species (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with SmartAsset

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -0.04%, Dow -0.1%, Nasdaq -0.1%) ahead of this week’s Federal Reserve meeting (More)

> Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen notifies Congress the US could reach its debt ceiling limit by June 1 (More)

> US manufacturing factory activity contracts for sixth consecutive month (More)

From our partners: Life should be a balance of adventure and relaxation—not finances. Working with a financial advisor can be a crucial part of any healthy financial plan. But choosing the wrong one could potentially wreak havoc on your retirement. Avoid these 7 common mistakes when hiring one so you can get back to the balance that matters most. Get your financial advisor matches today.

 

Politics & World Affairs

> At least two people killed and 40 injured after Russia launches second predawn strike in Ukraine in three days (More) | French police clash with pension protestors as workers in Europe and Asia rally to mark International Workers' Day (More) | At least six killed, dozens hospitalized after dust storm causes vehicle pileups on Illinois highway (More)

> Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) to retire, won't seek reelection in 2024 (More) | Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) won't seek reelection for fourth term (More) | State Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D) sues Montana and its House speaker after being barred from House floor debates following comments regarding gender-affirming care (More)

> Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R-FL) five-person board overseeing Disney World countersues Disney after the company filed a lawsuit alleging the governor's actions toward it over the last year infringe on its constitutional rights (More) | See previous write-up (More)

 

In-Depth

> The Titanic of the Pacific

Atavist | Tyler Hooper. In 1906, the sinking of the SS Valencia off the coast of Vancouver resulted in the deaths of more than 130 people, making it one of the worst maritime disasters in the region's history. (Read)

 

> Kindergarten During Wartime

NPR | Elissa Nadworny, Claire Harbage. A look into a kindergarten classroom in Ukraine and how the students, now dispersed throughout the world, have been impacted. (Read)

In partnership with Monogram

Surgery From 1,000+ Miles Away?

 

Dr. Doug Unis was in New York; his operating room was in Texas. Despite the distance, Dr. Unis performed a demonstration knee replacement surgery on a cadaver using Monogram’s robotic surgical assistant. 

 

Dr. Unis and Monogram are on a mission to improve surgical success and long-term patient comfort using their advanced robotics and custom implants. Now you can invest in Monogram before their planned Nasdaq listing. 

 

Disclosure: This is a paid advertisement for Monogram Orthopedics’ Regulation A+ offering. Learn more at invest.monogramorthopedics.com/disclaimers 

Please support our sponsors!

Etcetera
 

Explore in 3D: the coronation crown.

 

Ding Liren becomes the 17th world chess champion

 

Capturing portraits of federally recognized Native American tribes.

 

Barbie honors Asian American actress Anna May Wong.

 

What are "bare minimum Mondays?"

 

Rare "wanted" poster for John Wilkes Booth sells for $166K

 

AI reimagines "Star Wars" as a Wes Anderson film (w/video). 

 

Nigeria's Spider-Man on a mission to fight waste.

 

Clickbait: When hunger strikes at an art museum.

 

Historybook: Leonardo da Vinci dies (1519); Playwright Tennessee Williams wins Pulitzer Prize for "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1955); Fashion designer Donatella Versace born (1955); Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson born (1972); Osama bin Laden is killed by US special forces (2011).

"We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love."

- Tennessee Williams

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