Wiser! #42: Crypto to solve world poverty; Tesla and Hertz in largest EV deal ever; Twitter's algorithms; data privacy under scrutiny; Blue Origin to build a space station...and more
In this issue of Wiser!;
- Tesla and Hertz make auto history with the largest electric vehicle deal ever,
- Twitter release data that shows the extent it amplifies right-wing content,
- Jeff Bezos' space company unveil plans for a 21st-century space station,
- US firms are under scrutiny for failing to protect data privacy,
- The iPod is 20 years,
- And a cryptocurrency to solve world hunger (but collects biometrics with an Orb!).
Tesla and Hertz make auto history
No stranger to grabbing the headlines, Elon Musk and Tesla have done it again after Hertz has announced the largest EV deal ever. To add some spice to the story, this comes just a year after Hertz filed for bankruptcy.
At the start of the pandemic, when no one was travelling and rental cars sat idle in parking lots, Hertz called time. Originally named Rent-A-Car Inc when founded in 1918, Hertz was unable to hold up after the rapid loss of rental revenues as lockdowns took hold.
However, after a $6 billion refinancing deal, and like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a self-combusting Model S, the iconic rental company jumped back into the spotlight. And some!
Because earlier this week Hertz announced they had ordered 100,000 Teslas that will start renting in November this year. The deal is estimated to be worth $4.2 billion to Tesla whose share price jumped 12.7% as the news of the deal broke in Bloomberg. Interestingly, Hertz have paid full price for the Tesla, no bulk discount.
This was enough to push Tesla's market capitalization over the $1 trillion line. Only Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft have joined the trillion-dollar club in the USA.
Tesla has proven to be resistant to the downtrend in global car sales. Whilst most manufacturers are having to slow down production because of the global shortage in computer chips, Tesla has continued to increase the number of cars it sells.
In the latest quarter, Tesla reported almost a quarter of a million in new car sales, up 100k from the same quarter a year ago. In 2019, Tesla sold less than 400k cars all year. Their growth has been phenomenal!
Tesla is now worth as much as the rest of the top 20 car makers put together, including the likes of Toyota, GM, Honda, and Nissan. Tesla’s value is 15x higher than Ford’s, even though Ford reported over $115 billion more in revenue than Tesla last year.
Tesla's ability to redefine the auto manufacturing industry and shift its focus to electric is staggering. Before Tesla, auto was a low margin manufacturing sector of about $200 billion. Now, it is a high-tech, high margin sector of over $800 billion. And that's before Apple join the sector with the much anticipated Apple Car.
All this in just 18 years!
As for Elon, his personal fortune increased by over $25 billion on the news of this deal, making him the richest person ever tracked by Forbes at $280 billion (Jeff Bezos is next at a mere $198 billion).
Source: Morning Brew
Hertz to rent Teslas to Uber drivers
Shortly after announcing the deal, Hertz tweeted this...
On the related subject of mobility, you'll find a link to an article on the Wisdom page on the website that I wrote after I spoke to the CEO of a mobility startup called Voom and the GM of tech platform Trov. Both provide tech that supports the changing face of getting from A to B. You can find the article here 👇
Twitter’s own research shows it’s a megaphone for the right
Twitter has publicly shared some internal research findings. They show how the platform's algorithms amplify tweets from right-leaning politicians and news outlets more than people and content from the political left.
However, to be clear, the headline needs a health warning because it's not as simple as it sounds. Twitter's research did not identify that their algorithms are biased in favour of conservative political content. What it identified is the extent to which right-wing content is amplified by the algorithm. which for some reason to be explained is worse than for content on the left.
Twitter appear to have taken the issue of AI amplification more serious than Facebook and have gone further when it comes to transparency.
Facebook scrutiny continues
Meanwhile, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has given evidence to a UK parliamentary committee this week.
Many of the revelations speak of Facebook's failure to implement safety policies and AI systems for users based outside of the US. This is remarkable when you know that 90% of Facebook's users are outside of North America!
According to Haugen it could be as simple as Facebook algorithms failing to understand the offensiveness of local UK slang. And this is written in English! Imagine the scale of the issue for non-English speaking nations. This is exactly what happened in Myanmar that has around 100 languages but Facebook only hired 1 Burmese speaking moderator.
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Surveillance and data privacy under scrutiny
The debate on surveillance often draws the comparison between authoritarian states like China and Russia and the democracies of the West.
Yet, two separate investigations in the USA are looking at the role of BigTech and the mobile phone carriers when it comes to respecting and protecting user privacy. This comes after US mobile carriers are found to still be selling user data even though they agreed to stop the practice in 2018.
Read about it here 👇
iPod is 20 years old
Twenty years ago, Steve Jobs introduced the iPod to the world. The device cost $399 and could hold 1,000 songs on a 5 gb hard disk when version 1 was launched in October 2001.
This was the era of file sharing. And the iPod was designed for fast copying of music files from a Mac. But this was also the era of music piracy which was on the rise as people found ways to unbundle albums and share them for free on sites like Limewire and Napster.
Apple already had iTunes as a music library for Mac computers but Jobs could see that traditional record ownership was about to be turned on its head by the file-sharing sites, even though they faced many difficulties with copyright infringement.
In 2003, Apple added the music store to iTunes and started selling individual tracks for ¢99. They took the music industry digital, removing the cost and friction of physical production of records and CDs and moved distribution online. They turned the iPod/iTunes combo into a fashion statement and by 2010, Apple was the largest music distributor in the world.
This 9-minute video of Jobs was taken at the launch of the iPod. It was only 20 years ago, which doesn't sound very long ago but it is a lifetime away in tech terms.
What I loved about this video is that it's an excellent example of a sales pitch. The simplicity of the presentation is striking, which is a lesson in itself, even if the iPod story doesn't interest you.
Snippets of Insight and Information
Crypto: can Worldcoin solve world poverty?
A billion dollar Silicon Valley startup wants to use biometrics to control the use of a cryptocurrency aimed at universal basic income. But there's a problem...
Tesla to open up live streaming from the car's cameras
Tesla is rolling out a live streaming feature that will allow its users to see what's going on around the car when it is parked up. It is only available at the moment for iOS users. Source: The Verge
Augmented Reality brings crime scene to life for a Jury
Researchers from the University of South Africa studied the use of virtual reality headsets in court cases. And they found them to be very effective. Watch the video here.
Blue Origin to launch a space hotel
Jeff Bezos’s startup has announced plans to build a 32,000 square foot space station called Orbital Reef. They have promoted it as a ‘mixed-used business park’, containing research laboratories and a space hotel. It is no coincidence that Blue Origin is pushing Orbital Reef given that the ageing International Space Station is due to be retired and replaced by NASA in the next decade. (Go here to read the Wiser! article about the Space Race.)
Bitcoin ownership and creation is still highly concentrated
Bitcoin is largely controlled by a small group of investors and miners, study finds. Source: Techspot
Robotics based on the human anatomy
A polish team going by the name of Automaton Robotics say they hope to create a ‘universal robot’ with multiple industrial and household uses. They eventually want to build an interface that allows direct control via the brain of a prosthetic arm like the one shown in this video below.
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