• Would you let this Amazon security drone into your house?
  • Google has me very worried with this latest move…
  • This could be the beginning of the end for Microsoft

Dear Reader,

Earlier this month, the prominent New England Journal of Medicine published some research that caught my eye.

Its content surprised me because the premise of the research was that masks do not provide protection from COVID-19.

An example was used from an Argentinian cruise ship that provided passengers with surgical masks and N95 masks. Even with this precaution taken, almost everyone on the ship caught COVID-19… and 81% of those passengers were asymptomatic.

The research explores a concept called variolation, which was used when the world wrestled with smallpox. The medical community would take small tissue from the vesicle of someone with small pox and give it to a healthy person as a way to inoculate them.

The goal was simple – give someone a small dose and, hopefully, the infection would be mild and immunity would be built against smallpox.

That is exactly what the doctors who authored the study proposed. They believe that masks act as a tool for variolation of COVID-19. The theory is that the mask is essentially a variolation device that might help reduce the severity of the exposure to COVID-19.

The authors were brave to publish this research. After all, we’re told that masks protect us and stop the spread, but the actual research clearly states otherwise. And as we saw several days ago in The Bleeding Edge, even the N95 masks do not stop the spread of viral particles.

In order to test the hypothesis that masks would help increase asymptomatic infection, the authors believe that additional research should be conducted. Ironically, such research has actually been performed, but not yet released.

A team in Denmark completed a study on masks that acknowledged the challenges of wearing them outside of a controlled setting. The study acknowledged that a) masks are not tight enough to keep the virus out and b) the mucous membrane of the eyes remains exposed. The researchers acknowledged that masks do not stop the spread or protect the wearer.

The question that the team in Denmark tried to answer was whether or not masks actually reduce the frequency of COVID-19 infection. In other words, do masks slow down the rate of infection at all?

The study involved 6,000 participants and was completed on June 2. That was almost four months ago. The research is completed, and they know the results. Suspiciously, no results from the trial have been published.

To put things in perspective, companies have developed vaccines for COVID-19 in less time than that. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. This research has critical information that will help countries set rational policies, and the results are being withheld. I wonder why?

Amazon’s big product announcement day…

Amazon hosted its annual product announcement event last week, and there were some interesting new products on offer…

The first big announcement was the fourth-generation Echo. This is the top-selling artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled home smart speaker that most people know as “Alexa.”

What sets this new Echo apart is an AI semiconductor designed specifically for neural networks. It optimizes machine learning (ML) for speech recognition. And this AI chip allows the Echo to do most of the processing on the device. It doesn’t have to rely on processing requests in the Cloud anymore.

This allows Alexa to respond to voice requests hundreds of milliseconds faster. That may not sound like much on the surface, but it will help tremendously in improving the real-time feeling of an interaction with Alexa.

As a result, interacting with Alexa is starting to resemble talking to a human. Alexa’s responses are quick, and its speech tones are natural.

The other big product releases revolved around Amazon’s Ring product suite. These are the connected security products that came out of Amazon’s acquisition of Ring back in 2018.

The first new release was Amazon’s Ring Always Home Cam. Check this out:

Amazon’s Always Home Cam In Action

Source: Amazon

This is taking connected security to a whole new level.

It’s a drone that sits on its charger until Amazon’s Ring system alerts it to a possible home intrusion. When that happens, the drone activates and autonomously flies around the house to investigate.

While in flight, the drone sends an alert to the homeowner’s smartphone, allowing the homeowner to access the drone’s camera. In this way, we can see what the drone sees as it is flying around the house.

And here’s the best part – the drone’s footage is automatically saved on the cloud. So even if an intruder breaks the drone, the video can still be used to help with an official investigation.

What’s brilliant about Amazon’s approach is that it turned the home security model on its head.

The old way was extremely expensive. Wires had to be run throughout the house, cameras installed, extra equipment hooked up to run the whole outfit. We also needed an expensive monthly security system subscription service.

Now, with Amazon’s Ring Always Home Cam we don’t need any of it. We have one camera that can literally move around the entire house. No wires, no installation, no expense. Awesome!

And Amazon also inked a clever security deal with Tesla.

Amazon’s Ring Car Connect product can now link with Tesla’s system to allow Alexa to monitor the user’s car. It will alert users if it identifies a potential break-in attempt.

And there’s also a great feature where it will record video any time users tell it to. This could be useful if drivers experience any unusual encounters on the road, including a traffic stop that goes wrong.

Here’s what strikes me about Amazon’s progress with its line of consumer electronics…

When most of us think of Amazon, we probably imagine a great e-commerce platform. Or perhaps we know the company for its cloud services business, Amazon Web Services.

But very few people think of Amazon as a consumer electronics company. In many ways, Amazon’s product reveals are becoming as significant as Apple’s famous product events.

The bottom line is that Amazon is getting more and more innovative with its consumer electronics line-up. Each year I become more and more excited about what the company will release next…

Google’s latest attack on our privacy…

This has me concerned…

Google is now asking people to lip sync the words to songs to help train its AI to read lips.

Of course, Google says it is doing this so its AI can help people with speech impairments. As always, Google’s position is that this will make the world a better place.

But there’s another motive here…

What Google is really doing here is piggybacking on a major social media trend to gain yet another behavioral surveillance tool. Lip syncing videos have become incredibly popular on Instagram and TikTok. Google knows this, and it is leveraging this trend for its own designs.

This is really a clever move by Google. It is crowdsourcing the work in a way that will be perceived as fun by the volunteer.

Why does this concern me?

Simple. This has scary implications for our privacy.

If we help Google learn how to read lips, it will be able to strike deals with governments and municipalities all over the world to have this technology implemented into security cameras.

These cameras are already geared with facial recognition tech. If they could also read lips, suddenly the “Deep State” will be able to monitor our conversations out in public. They will know exactly what we are saying to each other, even without having any audio on us.

That goes way beyond any reasonable effort to deter crime. And it’s not hard to imagine how this power could be abused by bad actors.

Most computer users don’t know this, but companies like Google can gain access to the camera on the top of your laptop or desktop computer. Even if the mic is disabled, the camera could be used to “listen” in on conversations.

Do we really want to give Google even more behavioral data on us? I certainly don’t.

I suggest that we avoid Google products at all costs. We shouldn’t help them train their AI. And we should never ever put one of Google’s security cameras in our homes.

Just a word of advice ­– when we’re not using the cameras on our computers, I recommend using a lens cap to cover your camera up. We can never truly know who is watching…

Microsoft’s new move will hasten its obsolescence…

Microsoft appears to have backed away from its ambitions to buy TikTok’s U.S. operations. I guess they took my advice last month. I said it would be a dumb move because it would invite regulatory scrutiny, which Microsoft needs to avoid at all costs.

So Microsoft did a great job of avoiding that potential disaster.

But now they are making an even dumber move. I guess this company just can’t help itself…

Microsoft just made some aggressive changes to its Terms of Service (ToS) agreement for Microsoft 365. That is its cloud-based suite of office products.

Under the new terms, Microsoft will not allow customers to install Microsoft Office products if they use a rival cloud-based service like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Google Cloud. That means Microsoft is effectively forcing people to license Microsoft 365 through its Azure cloud service, or one of its partners using Microsoft Azure.

I can’t overstate how dumb this is.

Microsoft has a virtual monopoly with its Office suite of products. Most of the world uses Windows, Office, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for their productivity needs.

By forcing customers already using these products to also use its Azure cloud services, Microsoft is clearly engaging in monopolistic practices. There’s a strong chance this will draw regulatory attention.

But this regulatory scrutiny is the least of Microsoft’s worries. To me, this move just hastened the legacy incumbent’s own obsolescence. Here’s why…

Enterprise customers like to have choice when it comes to the IT services and products they use. They don’t like to be locked into proprietary loops. And they certainly don’t like being barred from shopping around for the best and most competitive services. Yet that’s exactly what Microsoft is doing to its customers with this move.

And this is going to motivate the industry to unseat Microsoft’s monopoly. This is the beginning of the end.

Of course, that’s not going to happen from somebody designing better Office products. Alternatives already exist, but it’s nearly impossible to unseat such an entrenched company through direct competition.

Instead, the industry is going to develop AI-powered productivity software that will make Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and the others completely obsolete. We won’t need to use these products anymore to accomplish the things we need to do.

And that day is coming much faster than most people realize.

Think about it. We’ve been doing everything on Office-like products for decades now. We are long overdue for a shift to more dynamic approaches to workflow.

And the pieces are already in place…

Text generators like GPT-3 will make it so we can create documents without ever typing a word. AI bots like Diffbot will allow us to create spreadsheets and presentations without ever editing a cell or creating a slide.

Instead, we will dictate what we want to the AI, and it will mine all available resources to get the job done. This will save so much time and manual effort, and it will free us up to focus on higher-value tasks, innovation, and creative work that requires more complex thought processes.

All that’s left is for a company to refine these tools and put it all together in a comprehensive way. Once somebody cracks the code, Microsoft is in trouble.

The blue screen of death won’t go down easily, but I can guarantee that we’ll see its painful demise in our lifetimes.


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

P.S. Time is running out to access the replay of my Penny IPO presentation from last week. In it, I pulled the curtain back on a tiny subset of technology stocks that go public 100 – 300 times cheaper than most tech stocks today.

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And now is the time to start building positions in these companies. That’s because Penny IPOs are entering the “4X Window” this week. That is going to lead to a wave a big-time gains as we enter into the fourth quarter of 2020.

With so much volatility in the markets and surrounding the upcoming election, it is absolutely critical that investors understand what Penny IPOs are and how to identify them. That’s what my presentation was all about last week.

For anyone who is interested but couldn’t attend last week, please take advantage of the last evening to view the Penny IPO replay. You can find it right here.

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