- Waymo’s secret agenda approaches prime time…
- The dawn of digital assistants is upon us…
- A “Fed coin” will be here before we know it…
A few days ago, some exciting research was published by a team out of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO. It is important research because it analyzed cellular immunity with respect to bone marrow plasma cells.
This is important because bone marrow plasma cells are a source of long-lasting antibodies that protect against things like a coronavirus. In this case, the focus was of course on SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).
Some in the medical community have suggested that immunity is not long lasting because the antibodies in our blood decline rapidly in the three to four months immediately after being exposed to a virus.
Antibodies are what our immune systems produce naturally as a response to being exposed to COVID-19 or to a COVID-19 vaccine.
This “camp” believes that the absence of antibodies in our blood indicates the need for booster shots. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies certainly like this line of thinking… It would result in tens of billions of dollars more business in the coming years.
Which is why this research was so important… Our actual immunity to a virus like COVID-19 isn’t just about having short-term antibodies in our blood. The best kind of immunity is persistent and long lasting. And it would not require us to take booster shots year after year.
And the research demonstrated that those who caught COVID-19 have developed cellular immunity. The bone marrow plasma cells provided protection against COVID-19 and are long-lived. The results of the research are best summed up in the following conclusion:
Overall, we show that SARS-CoV-2 infection induces a robust antigen-specific, long-lived humoral immune response in humans.
Put another way, immunity to COVID-19 is not short lived, and may in fact last a lifetime.
Another interesting paper published out of The Rockefeller University highlighted strong, lasting immunity to COVID-19 by those who had caught COVID-19 and been vaccinated.
The research went further to highlight that the immunity also provided a strong response against any variants or mutations of COVID-19. In other words, if we have had COVID-19 and recovered, then our immune system is well-suited to deal with any future mutations of COVID-19.
This is clearly contrary to all of the fearmongering perpetuated by the mass media.
One interesting twist concerns the cohort that has received a COVID-19 vaccine but has not been exposed to COVID-19. The research states that this group has the weakest long-term immune response and may eventually need a booster shot.
The most useful diagnostic test that we would all benefit from is an accurate cellular immunity test. This would be able to identify our long-lasting immunity to COVID-19. And it would therefore be far more meaningful than proof of vaccination.
Now let’s turn to today’s insights…
Waymo is gearing up to go public…
Bloomberg just released some big news. Waymo – Google’s self-driving division – is looking to go public. And its first step is to raise up to $4 billion from outside investors in a pre-IPO (initial public offering) investment round.
This is a continuation of what Waymo started in March of last year. That was when the company conducted its first round of external funding. This was done specifically to bring in strategic investors.
Waymo accepted investments from famous venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, American automotive retailer AutoNation, and Canadian automotive supplier Magna International.
By granting these companies equity in Waymo, it was basically guaranteeing itself key partnerships for its future business.
And that’s exactly what the upcoming $4 billion pre-IPO raise is also about. This is something that Bloomberg doesn’t seem to understand.
The Bloomberg article speculated that Google wants to spin out Waymo as a public company just to get it off the balance sheet. The idea is that Waymo is draining billions of dollars in research and development (R&D) expenses from Google every year without bringing in any revenue. I don’t see that at all.
Google is sitting on an absolute mountain of cash. As I write, the company has nearly $137 billion in cash and short-term investments on the balance sheet.
What’s more, Google generated $42.8 billion in free cash flow last year. Clearly, a couple billion dollars for Waymo’s R&D is just a drop in the bucket.
Instead, this move is all about bringing in more strategic partners. I expect we will see another Tier-1 automotive supplier and at least a couple of major carmakers invest in Waymo’s pre-IPO round. Then they will have substantial equity when the company goes public, making them more likely to adopt Waymo’s technology.
And this matches up perfectly with Waymo’s secret agenda.
I have long postulated that Waymo has no intention of manufacturing its own vehicles in volume. The company’s only goal is to get the top carmakers in the world to adopt its software.
This is the exact same strategy Google used to proliferate its Android operating system (OS), the most widely used smartphone OS in the world.
At first, Google bought Motorola’s mobile phone division to launch its Android phone. But Google had no intention of becoming a mobile phone manufacturing company. It just wanted to show the industry what the Android software could do on mobile phones. Then it made the Android software free and open source so other companies would adopt it.
But Google’s “free” software came with a catch. Those that adopted Android had to agree to its terms and conditions. And they essentially allow Google to capture data and surveil Android users.
The phone manufacturers didn’t care much about this… After all, they just wanted to sell phones at a reasonable margin. And free software improved their margins.
And that’s exactly what Waymo has been working toward this entire time.
Once Waymo begins licensing its software to carmakers, there will be the same kinds of terms and conditions. Waymo-powered cars and trucks will be able to collect data and surveil users. That data will be sent back to Google, aggregated, and made available to advertisers.
This is Google’s core business model.
It’s a devious agenda. But it’s brilliant from a monetization standpoint.
The key takeaway here is that Waymo’s software is ready for prime time.
But those of us who value privacy should be very leery of it. While I’ll be happy to ride in a Waymo car for research, I won’t be buying anything with a sticker that says “Powered by Waymo.”
The rise of digital assistants will be rapid…
Two major breakthroughs in the area of natural language processing caught my eye last week. And these developments signal the impending rise of digital assistants.
The first breakthrough came from Facebook. The social media giant revealed a new method for training an artificial intelligence (AI) to recognize and understand human speech without supervision. This is a major break from the way this has been done up to this point.
Historically, an AI has been taught to understand spoken language by pairing voice recordings with a written transcription of the words spoken. This enabled the AI to connect the two and learn how to understand human speech.
While it worked well, this approach is very messy and time-consuming. It requires people to manually annotate and transcribe voice recordings. Those recordings and transcriptions are then compiled into massive datasets that require incredible amounts of computing power to process.
Facebook’s new approach eliminates those issues. It empowers the AI to teach itself to recognize and understand the spoken word on the fly. And, of course, the AI gets better and better with practice.
The second major breakthrough last week came from Google. It revealed a new language model called LaMDA. That stands for Language Model for Dialogue Applications.
This model trains an AI to “think on its feet,” so to speak. It helps the AI adapt to free-flowing conversations so that it learns to interact with humans organically.
Google’s LaMDA is still in the research and development phase, but Google wouldn’t be open about it unless it was getting ready to use it in the wild.
Put the two together, and we have a recipe for an explosion in the proliferation of digital assistants. We’re talking about digital assistants that are far more functional than what we have today. This was one of my major predictions for 2021.
Right now, Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and other digital assistants can only do some basic tasks. They can tell us the weather. They can play music. They can set an alarm. They can order products for us and set reminders.
The functionality has been broad, but it hasn’t been that sophisticated.
But what if a digital assistant could make dinner reservations for us? What if it could order flowers or gifts for family members on our behalf?
What if it could do our taxes? What if it could plan, book, and pay for an entire family vacation without us having to lift a finger?
That’s what’s coming with the next generation of digital assistants. It will be like having our own real life personal assistant. And that day is coming faster than anybody realizes.
In fact, I would expect to start seeing new and improved digital assistants coming from companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and maybe even Microsoft later this year.
This will result in a profound change in our quality of life. It will allow normal people to potentially free up an hour or two a day that we spend on numerous time-consuming tasks that don’t require much skill to take care of.
Our lives will have less friction as a result. And we’ll have more time to relax, exercise, or engage in other productive activities.
I can’t wait for these products to hit the market.
The Federal Reserve is getting serious about a CBDC…
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell just announced that the Fed will soon release a paper on central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). This is standard procedure when it comes to big policy changes.
Usually proposed changes like this are detailed in a paper to gauge public opinion and solicit feedback. This is also done to provide cover for the institution making changes. The institution can claim that it has been transparent about what it is doing.
This is a major indication that a U.S. dollar-based CBDC – a “Fed coin” – is coming faster than most people realize. Of course, we still don’t know if it will come directly from the Fed or through a partnership with a private entity. As we discussed last month, I suspect the latter may be the case.
What I find interesting here is how the Fed’s position stands in contrast to many key U.S. government departments’ stances.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has condemned digital assets with heavy language. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler firmly expressed his intent to ratchet up regulatory scrutiny on fintech companies.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown called for a halt to new Trust Charters related to digital assets. Acting Comptroller of the Currency Blake Paulson called for a complete review of policy around digital assets.
And worst of all, the IRS is investing heavily in going after anyone who has made digital asset transactions of $10,000 or more.
These are war cries that are rising in opposition to the use of and proliferation of digital assets.
Could this posturing be aimed at reducing competition for a U.S. CBDC? We can’t say for sure, but this is something that we will be watching closely…
The one thing we can be certain about is the radical impact a CBDC would have on our financial systems. That’s why I’ve been predicting a financial “reset” on the way…
If readers want to learn how to prepare for these changes, I encourage you to go right here for my full take on this story.
Editor, The Bleeding Edge
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