- Can self-driving cars “see” motorcycles?
- Pay for your groceries… with Amazon’s cryptocurrency?
- An explanation of quantum teleportation
Welcome to our weekly mailbag edition of The Bleeding Edge. All week, you submitted your questions about the biggest trends in technology. Today, I’ll do my best to answer them.
If you have a question you’d like answered next week, be sure you submit it right here.
But first, I want to notify readers about a special event happening later this month.
Longtime readers know I’m a strong proponent of blockchain technology. And I believe in the long-term investment potential of quality digital assets.
I don’t make any cryptocurrency recommendations in my own services, but my friend and colleague Teeka Tiwari does. And some of Teeka’s readers made some truly staggering returns during the crypto bull market of 2017.
What I like most about Teeka’s research is his insistence on risk management. These are not the kinds of investments that you go “all-in” with.
With a highly speculative asset like cryptocurrencies, proper position sizing and building a basket of quality projects is essential… It is critical for controlling portfolio risk and ensuring exposure to assets that can deliver outstanding returns. Teeka puts a strong emphasis on these strategies.
If any readers are interested in investing in the crypto markets this year, I encourage you to join Teeka on March 18 at 8 p.m. ET for a free crypto training seminar. All the details are right here.
Now let’s turn to our mailbag.
What do self-driving cars mean for motorcycles?
First up is a great question about autonomous vehicles…
Jeff, I am a subscriber to your work. Of all of the financial publications to which I subscribe, I enjoy your work the most.
You have predicted that an autonomous driving vehicle will be with us soon. The autonomous driving vehicle relies on technology to detect the obstacles in its path. I ride motorcycles and bicycles. Motorcycles are fast-moving and have both a small visual signature and a small radar signature. Bicycles have an even smaller signature than the motorcycle, but they are slower moving. In between the two are the motor scooters.
My question concerns the safety of those types of vehicles: What stage is the development of technology for an autonomous driving vehicle in relation to protecting those vehicles when in encountering them in heavy traffic or on the highways at fast speeds?
– Frank B.
Thanks for writing in, Frank. And I’m happy to hear that you’re enjoying the research.
You’re correct. During my 2020 prediction series, I predicted that 2020 would be the year when self-driving cars finally hit the road. And as I shared on Wednesday, recent actions taken by Google’s autonomous vehicle division, Waymo, tell us that deployment is much closer than most realize.
To answer your question, the stage of development is very advanced already. Self-driving vehicles from Waymo, Cruise, Tesla, and others are already able to identify smaller vehicles like motorcycles, scooters, and even bicycles.
To give you an idea, have a look at this video. It demonstrates how a Tesla on “autopilot” (semiautonomous driving) can “see” the motorcycle in front of it.
While this is just one simple example, the reality is that a Tesla (or Waymo) is loaded with sensors to ensure that it “sees” all hard and soft objects in its surroundings.
Teslas sold today have eight different cameras around the car. This provides a complete 360-degree view of the car as far out as 250 meters.
Those cameras are supplemented with 12 ultrasonic sensors. And the car also has radar technology facing forward in the car. That allows it to precisely control the distance between the car, motorcycle, or bike in front of it at all times.
As my longtime readers know, one of Tesla’s competitive advantages is its trove of self-driving data. As of January of this year, it’s estimated that Tesla has accumulated more than 2.2 billion miles driving on Autopilot.
And less than 12 months from now, by January 2021, that number is set to nearly double at 4.2 billion miles. Given how fast Teslas are being purchased around the world and the new factories being built to support market demand, I wouldn’t be surprised to see these numbers increase.
The reason why this is such a valuable data point is that this data collection is the key to Tesla’s success with autonomous driving technology.
The artificial intelligence behind Autopilot “learns” every month and improves its performance and safety. This speaks directly to the kinds of smaller vehicles that you mention in your question.
Is this Amazon’s real motivation for licensing its “grab and go” technology?
For our second question, a reader has his own theories about Amazon’s latest Amazon Go stores…
Jeff, I love your insights and information that you present. In a recent edition of The Bleeding Edge, you talked about the Amazon Grab-and-Go stores and alluded that Amazon is even licensing out this technology.
Is it trying to have companies that use this technology eventually become engrained in the Amazon digital currency before it even starts? If Amazon’s digital currency is realized, it seems very beneficial for Amazon to already have customers and business partners using its systems.
– Patrick W.
Thanks for writing in, Patrick. And thanks for being a reader. That’s an interesting theory you have…
For readers who don’t know, Patrick is referring to a company-issued digital asset. We can almost think of this like a corporate currency. This is a prediction of mine that I originally made in December 2017. I said that I believed Amazon was on the verge of releasing a digital asset, an “Amazon Coin.” Catch up on this story right here.
In late 2017, that seemed like a pretty “out there” prediction. But just last year, Facebook unveiled its plans for the Libra, its digital asset. And as we’ve been covering in these pages, the U.S. government and China are both experimenting with the idea of issuing a digital version of their currencies.
I doubt that the primary motivation for Amazon’s licensing model is to drive the adoption of Amazon’s digital currency, but it certainly would be a benefit to Amazon.
The reality is that Amazon’s global customer base and network of suppliers and third-party sellers are already broad enough to drive fast adoption of a digital currency.
Very few companies have ever been in as powerful a position as Amazon. It is not just a digital company like Google or Facebook.
It is a large company that provides the backbone for the internet… has one of the largest logistics networks in the world (planes, trucks, delivery vehicles, etc.)… has a growing bricks-and-mortar presence (e.g., Whole Foods, Amazon Go)… and provides electronics throughout our homes (such as smart speakers, smart thermostats, and other smart home devices).
Instantaneous data transmission…
Let’s conclude with a question on quantum mechanics…
Jeff, I am a subscriber of all your services. Some time ago, you reported that some British scientists had transferred digital material for a considerable distance using quantum mechanics. I don’t understand the physics of this (I just bought a course on quantum mechanics from The Teaching Company), but it occurred to me that the change in the state of the quantum particles would be instantaneous. That means faster than the speed of light. Is this how the quantum computer works?
– Leroy L.
Hi, Leroy. Thanks for being a reader. I’m happy to have you on board. And I applaud you for taking the initiative to learn more about an exciting field like quantum mechanics.
I believe what you’re referring to is something called “quantum teleportation.” I profiled this technology in January.
Here’s how it works at a very high level…
If we think about normal computing, each transistor has two states: 0 and 1. The manipulation of these two states is what makes computers work. Well, quantum particles are similar, except they have many states.
The physicists at Bristol were researching a concept called quantum entanglement. This is where two quantum particles become connected (entangled) to each other in a nonphysical way.
The quantum particles essentially become interdependent. Then, when the quantum state of one particle changes, so does the other. And the particles don’t need to be close to each other for this to happen.
Several years back, scientists were able to demonstrate quantum entanglement by separating two interdependent particles by 100 kilometers.
And sure enough, when one particle changed states, so did the other. There was no physical connection whatsoever between the two particles.
Just three years ago, all records were shattered by demonstrating quantum entanglement between one particle on Earth and another in space. Pretty extraordinary.
So the physicists at Bristol were building on this discovery. They took two computer chips that were linked by quantum entanglement, and they were able to teleport information from one chip to the other without any physical infrastructure.
There were no cables, no wireless networks… nothing.
They teleported the information from one chip to the other. Of course, in this case, the chips do not need to be miles apart. They could operate on the same board or within a rack of computers.
To be clear, no photons were transmitted at all. Nothing was traveling at the speed of light.
When the state of one entangled quantum bit changes, the state of the other entangled bit changes as well. This is how it is possible to “teleport” information without any physical connection between quantum bits.
There are many implications here, some practical and some philosophical. Let’s focus on what this means for the future of computing.
Our current computing systems must be linked together with physical connections… basically, super-thin wires. That creates latency (delay), since information must physically move from computer to computer.
Well, if we can now teleport information without physical links, multiple computing systems can perform even faster without the need to be physically interconnected.
We could even have several data centers scattered across a country or region “teleporting” information back and forth, working together in real time.
We have many years of development that need to take place before this kind of technology becomes commonplace, but prior to that, we’ll continue to make exciting advancements in quantum computing technology that can be used to solve real-world problems.
As the number of quantum bits (qubits) continues to grow in a quantum computer, we will be able to solve more and more complex problems with higher numbers of variables.
That’s all the questions we have time for this week. If you’d like me to answer a question about the topics we cover, feel free to send me a note right here. I’ll do my best to tackle it next week.
Editor, The Bleeding Edge
P.S. As we prepare to publish, the S&P 500 is trading down nearly 3%. I’m monitoring the situation, and I’ll come back to you on Monday with an update.
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