- • Facebook’s cryptocurrency project is a Trojan horse
- • Your AI-powered speech coach wants you to speak up
- • The Sunshine State welcomes self-driving cars
Facebook’s master plan, revealed…
As we mentioned on Tuesday, Facebook officially announced its new digital currency, Libra.
The white paper confirms what had been rumored. Libra will be a “stablecoin,” backed by a basket of fiat currencies. This will keep Libra’s value relatively stable.
Facebook also announced a new product called Calibra. Calibra will be a digital wallet used to store Libra, but there is a major problem. While Facebook is establishing the Libra Foundation to govern Libra in an open and transparent way, Calibra is a closed, proprietary digital wallet.
The company has already come under criticism for this approach from the tech community. It is a “tell” to Facebook’s master plan.
Calibra is a Trojan horse. It doesn’t want an open-source community of developers working on Calibra. At first, it will start with a digital wallet. But it will be used to deliver other financial services to Libra users in the future. Future services could include things like loans and investment products. This would provide more revenue for Facebook.
Even more interesting, Facebook is targeting the developing world with this. There, 1.7 billion adults still don’t have a bank account. They are “unbanked.”
Facebook is essentially creating the next global reserve currency. And the main way to access and transact in this currency is by having the proprietary Calibra application running on our smartphones.
For consumers in developing markets, this will be a great resource to them. Being able to store value on their smartphones without having a bank account is liberating.
What the world doesn’t realize is that Facebook will be monetizing those consumers and generating meaningful advertising revenues by selling their data.
After all, anything that Facebook can do to get the next one billion users onto Facebook will pay off tenfold over time. Facebook has the cash reserves to play the long game while appearing to serve the underserved markets.
That’s a bold move. And I must admit, this is out of character for Facebook.
Historically, Facebook has not been an innovator. It collects consumers data and sells it – pure advertising business. Even Facebook’s best product enhancements have come from copying other social media players like Snap.
Facebook’s master plan with Libra is a multibillion-dollar opportunity. It also enables Facebook to have some levers to pull when dealing with politicians and regulators, as we have covered in the past… But at least it’s a daring, potentially world-changing endeavor. And there is no other company in the world that has a network the size of Facebook.
It only took a matter of hours before Libra came under government scrutiny. The top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Senator Sherrod Brown, is already blasting the project. He’s calling for Libra to be watched closely.
That’s just the risk you take when getting into what has historically been the role of governments… creating and issuing currency. Facebook will have to strike a delicate balance if it wants to stay out of the government’s crosshairs.
We’ll keep an eye on this going forward.
Microsoft’s AI coach…
Here’s a great example of how pervasive artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming. Microsoft just implemented an AI coach to help users with their PowerPoint presentations.
Since 2015, there has already been an AI feature that provided feedback on slides in a presentation, but it wasn’t too useful. It was just analyzing text and images. The new “Presenter Coach” will be interactive. Here’s how it works…
You practice your presentation orally at your computer, talking through your slides just as you would in front of your audience. The AI will listen to your presentation and give you feedback on the spot.
“Don’t read directly from the slides,” the AI coach might suggest. Or “Avoid using slang terms.”
This is a simple use for AI. But it is also practical and useful for a lot of people.
And this goes to show that AI isn’t only for science fiction-like functions. AI is rapidly becoming a practical part of everyone’s life.
And AI will lead to another boom in productivity just like the internet did decades ago. One day, we’ll wonder how we ever got along without it.
Self-driving cars are coming to Florida in 11 days…
Florida governor Ron DeSantis just signed a bill allowing companies to test self-driving cars without a safety driver. The bill takes effect on July 1.
This makes Florida the fourth state to allow fully autonomous vehicles on the roads. Arizona, California, and Nevada are the other three… But California has such a rigid permitting process that few companies can get approval in the state.
So this will be great for business in Florida.
Starsky Robotics is one company that will benefit. It’s an autonomous vehicle company that’s been testing a large fleet semiautonomous trucks in the Sunshine State.
And Starsky’s not alone. Ford is testing its self-driving vehicles on the streets of Miami Beach. And don’t forget, Ford is also piloting self-driving vans… complete with delivery robots.
Expanding out… We talked about how the U.S. Postal Service is now testing self-driving trucks. Plus, the major car makers are each testing self-driving models. And they all need a place to test their tech under real conditions.
I wouldn’t be surprised if these entities chose Florida as their next testing grounds.
The bottom line is, we can expect to see a big leap in self-driving technology in the coming months. This is a trend that’s moving much faster than most people realize.
And if you live in Florida, don’t be surprised if you soon see a car on the highway with no driver in the front seat.
Editor, The Bleeding Edge