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‘At 21 I have no regrets’: I just got an email from myself, a decade ago | Life and style

I just received a mysterious email. “Dear Wilfred,” it began. “You better be a baller by this time. You better have a hot wife and kids. I hope you have a Porsche. If not, I don’t know what is wrong with you man.”

The 280-word message, which arrived in my inbox this week, on the morning of my 31st birthday, was actually from someone who I knew well: myself, exactly 10 years ago.

It went on: “I’m just kidding. None of those things really matter. I just hope you’re living a good life, being a good person to the people around you, and not losing your sense of wonder about the world.”

Since I was a teenager, I’ve been sending messages to the future using a free email service called FutureMe, which is kind of like a digital time capsule. It’s simple: you compose an email, enter a recipient, and select a date in the future. Once you submit it, your note is sealed away in FutureMe’s servers and won’t send until that date, which could be years or decades later.

In a time of dopamine-drenched social media feeds, this might well be the world’s slowest messaging service.

The site was launched in 2002, as a side project of Matt Sly and Jay Patrikios, programmers who were then in their 20s. Sly told me he had designed the site to be “super streamlined” so that it would be able to run indefinitely – at first the server costs were just $11 a month.

Now, despite handling 10,000 to 20,000 emails every day, the server costs just a couple of hundred dollars a month and brings in far more in revenue, Sly said. He sold FutureMe to a digital memorials company last year but feels confident about its longevity.

“The cool thing is the longer it’s around, the more kind of profound these experiences are, because 10, 15, 20 years is a long time,” said Sly, who writes about 10 letters to his future self every year. “It’s intense, as you experienced.”

The first time I used this time machine, a high school crush and I sat next to each other just before we graduated and sent letters to each other one year in the future. She stayed in our home town; I moved across the country and got her email the next winter, during a snowfall in my lonely first semester.

She wrote: “Right now, your probably somewhere in new york city, seeing amazing things, feeling amazing things. Amazing things that i probably can’t even imagine. I am REALLY REALLY excited, nervous, happy for you! I know you’ll become the person you want to be.”

I mostly forgot about the service until I turned 21, when I got a short note from 17-year-old me congratulating me on being old enough to buy alcohol. (“Now go DRINKING!!!!” teenage me urged.)

My 17-year-old self would be disappointed to learn I didn’t end up getting hammered that day. Instead, I penned the heartfelt letter to 31-year-old me.

“I hope you can remember what it felt like to be 21,” young me wrote. “Because I have no idea what I want to do with my life right now, but it’s okay. Because I do have faith that things are going to find a way to work themselves out.”

Wilfred Chan smiles as he sits in front of a cake
The author celebrating his 31st birthday. Photograph: Courtesy Wilfred Chan

As I read it, I felt memories of the last decade wash over me. Twenty-one-year-old me would never have predicted that I would start my career in Hong Kong, as a journalist covering its tragic democracy movement. That I would return to New York City years later and work for a while delivering food. That we would face a pandemic amid resurgent white supremacy and accelerating climate catastrophe.

Other things really did work out. I don’t have a wife or kids, but I am in a lovely relationship. I’ve stayed close with old friends and met new ones who have been there for me through many highs and lows. I now write full-time for publications I admired when I was younger. And 21-year-old me would be thrilled to know that marijuana is now legal in New York.

Too often, when I think about the past, I fixate on the moments of pain and confusion. Or I dwell upon other dreams I had then that never came to pass. But the letter helped me celebrate the most important victories (“I hope you haven’t died yet, because that would actually kind of suck,” 21-year-old me noted). And it revealed that I didn’t need external success to grasp life’s bigger picture.

“I can say, today, at age 21, I have no regrets so far,” I wrote. “I hope you don’t regret anything that’s happened since then. This world is far too beautiful to be wasting your time looking back and wishing you had done things differently.”

I need to hold on to this. But life happens, and I’m sure I’ll forget it again. That’s why I’m going to send a message to my 41-year-old self. I’m going to tell him, truthfully, that I feel grateful for what I have. And remind him that the real challenge of adulthood isn’t getting ahead – but getting back to an understanding that the world is beautiful and limitless.

The complete letter from 21-year-old me

Dear Wilfred,

You better be a baller by this time. You better have a hot wife and kids. I hope you have a Porsche. If not, I don’t know what is wrong with you man.

I’m just kidding. None of those things really matter. I just hope you’re living a good life, being a good person to the people around you, and not losing your sense of wonder about the world. It’s never too late to do that shit you’ve always wanted to do. It’s never too late to learn that thing you always wanted to learn. I can say, today, at age 21, I have no regrets so far. I hope you don’t regret anything that’s happened since then. This world is far too beautiful to be wasting your time looking back and wishing you had done things differently.

I hope you can remember what it felt like to be 21. Because I have no idea what I want to do with my life right now, but it’s okay. Because I do have faith that things are going to find a way to work themselves out. So I’m actually just going to trust that as you read this, you’ll be nodding your head, because things did end up working out okay despite all your doubts and fears. I’m trusting that you’re well. Actually, now that I think of it, I hope you haven’t died yet, because that would actually kind of suck … but hey, not ruling it out …

Anyway, I love you. Have a drink with me in celebration that you made it this far. Smoke some weed, if you’re not working for the government by now.

Happy birthday, man.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.

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China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.

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Aviation and Telecom Industries Reach Compromise on 5G Deployment

The Voice Of EU | In a significant development, AT&T and Verizon, the two largest mobile network operators in the United States, have agreed to delay the deployment of 5G services following requests from the aviation industry and the Biden administration. This decision marks a crucial compromise in the long-standing dispute between the two industries, which had raised concerns over the potential interference of 5G with flight signals.
The aviation industry, led by United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby, had been vocal about the risks of 5G deployment, citing concerns over the safety of flight operations. Kirby had urged AT&T and Verizon to delay their plans, warning that proceeding with the deployment would be a “catastrophic failure of government.” The US Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the issue further highlighted the need for a solution.
In response, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) head Steve Dickson sent a letter to the mobile networks, requesting a two-week delay to reassess the potential risks. Initially, AT&T and Verizon were hesitant, citing the aviation industry’s two-year preparation window. However, they eventually agreed to the short delay, pushing the deployment to January 19.
The crux of the issue lies in the potential interference between 5G signals and flight equipment, particularly radar altimeters. The C-Band spectrum used by 5G networks is close to the frequencies employed by these critical safety devices. The FAA requires accurate and reliable radar altimeters to ensure safe flight operations.

Airlines in the US have been at loggerheads with mobile networks over the deployment of 5G and its potential impact on flight safety.

Despite the concerns, both the FAA and the telecoms industry agree that 5G mobile networks and airline travel can coexist safely. In fact, they already do in nearly 40 countries where US airlines operate regularly. The key lies in reducing power levels around airports and fostering cross-industry collaboration prior to deployment.
The FAA has been working to find a solution in the United States, and the additional two-week delay will allow for further assessment and preparation. AT&T and Verizon have also agreed to not operate 5G base stations along runways for six months, similar to restrictions imposed in France.
President Joe Biden hailed the decision to delay as “a significant step in the right direction.” The European Union Aviation Safety Agency and South Korea have also reported no unsafe interference with radio waves since the deployment of 5G in their regions.
As the aviation and telecom industries continue to work together, it is clear that safe coexistence is possible. The delay in 5G deployment is a crucial step towards finding a solution that prioritizes both safety and innovation. With ongoing collaboration and technical assessments, the United States can join the growing list of countries where 5G and airlines coexist without issue.

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