- This “old school” company is quietly becoming a tech powerhouse
- Self-driving taxis come to Miami
- Apple’s next blockbuster product is almost here
They’re at it again…
This time it’s a zoonotic disease known as monkeypox. As the name implies, monkeypox is a virus that was originally discovered in monkeys. That was back in 1958.
This isn’t something new, it’s not a pandemic, and yet we are being told from the highest levels that this is something “that everybody should be concerned about.”
Days after the fear and panic drums started beating, it doesn’t make any sense. This is a virus endemic to Africa that has been around for decades and does not mutate rapidly.
For it to spread from a monkey to a human, it usually requires an animal bite or scratch or the handling of infected meat. And in order for it to spread from one human to another, it requires close human contact, usually in the form of the exchange of body fluids.
In other words, this is nothing at all like COVID-19 and can be easily contained.
Yet within the last 24 hours, both the U.K. and Belgium announced three-week quarantines for anyone coming into contact with monkeypox. Let’s hope the overreaction doesn’t get worse… but I’m not so sure.
If things weren’t strange enough, I came across a paper written by the Nuclear Threat Institute, written in November of last year, summarizing an exercise that was conducted in March 2021 on a “theoretical” biological event.
I have to warn you, it’s pretty eerie, but here it is:
A Theoretical Biological Event
The exercise that was held back in March of last year outlined with striking accuracy a genetically engineered version of monkeypox detected on May 15, 2022. The exercise predicts that by January of 2023, 83 countries will be affected with 70 million cases and 1.3 million deaths. Let’s hope that this really was just an exercise…
There is a “vaccine,” that according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “may help prevent the disease or help make it less severe.” The “vaccine” is Jynneos, which is manufactured by Denmark-based pharmaceutical company Bavarian Nordic… a company whose shares in Copenhagen are up 92% since the “outbreak.”
Worth noting is that Jynneos was developed with “significant support” from a handful of U.S. government agencies like the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The drug was approved in September of 2019.
The World Health Organization has also been quick to inject more fear, warning that cases will likely accelerate due to the “mass gatherings, festivals and parties” that will happen over the summer.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Nuclear Threat Institute is in part funded by both the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Honestly, who needs conspiracy theories when it’s all out in the open. After the embarrassment of public health officials and governments around the world for the last two years, it’s apparent that they just don’t want to stop. There are too many monetary and power-based incentives driving the desire to perpetuate pandemic panic for as long as possible.
The corrupt relationship between public health officials and the biopharmaceutical complex is too deeply woven into the public health system. As a simple example, the NIH and its scientists received more than $350 million of royalty payments paid by the biopharmaceutical industry between 2010 and 2020.
I wish this were all just fiction. It actually reads a lot like a Michael Crichton novel.
So let’s keep it that way. Let’s head the evildoers off at the pass. We can call them on their nonsense and leave the panic mongering in the past.
And while we’re at it, let’s have a great summer as well. I think we’ve all suffered enough, it’s time to monkey around.
John Deere continues to pioneer autonomous farming technology…
The Bleeding Edge is a daily letter devoted to the world of technology and tech investing. So, we might be surprised at our first subject… none other than John Deere.
The company with the big green tractors is quietly becoming a powerhouse in the agricultural technology (ag-tech) space. And believe it or not, I’m a big fan of what’s happening in this space right now and have even made a handful of private investments in ag-tech.
The big news is that John Deere just acquired an interesting artificial intelligence (AI) company. This is another strategic move towards fully autonomous farming equipment.
We last checked in on John Deere back in January. That was when the company unveiled its first autonomous tractor. It comes loaded with advanced neural network technology and a GPS guidance system:
John Deere’s Fully Autonomous Tractor
Source: John Deere
As we can see, it looks identical to a regular tractor… with one big difference: There’s nobody driving the big green machine.
The tractor is equipped with six pairs of cameras that give it a 360-degree view. That enables the AI to drive intelligently and avoid any obstacles in the field.
Driving in fields isn’t like driving on streets. The streets are flat and smooth. That makes for a smooth ride, which helps the cameras on a self-driving car see clearly.
On the other hand, fields are full of uneven terrain. That makes for a bumpy ride. And think about what that means for the cameras… bumps make them rattle around, which distorts their view. That could cause problems for self-driving tractors.
The company that John Deere just acquired will solve this problem. It’s called Light. And Light specializes in computer vision systems that can reduce the impact of bumps and vibrations on mounted cameras. This helps ensure that the AI always has a clear view of the fields around the tractor.
Deere’s acquisition of Light is obviously an effort to acquire the technology necessary to refine its autonomous tractors. It has the core technology and now it’s focusing on optimizing it.
And while this development alone is worthy of our attention, this news has broader implications.
So many people take for granted the grueling work that goes into planting, weeding, fertilizing, and harvesting the crops that make it to our dinner table. Farming is not only hard work, but the margins are also ultra-thin. And with the price of fertilizer and diesel soaring right now, the situation is about to get a lot harder for farmers.
A self-driving tractor could help immensely. It cuts down on the cost of labor for farmers. Plus, these tractors can run day and night. That makes the task of maintaining a farm much more efficient, and the farmers would be free to look after other parts of their operations.
This is another example of “The Great Recalibration” theme we have been watching unfold. Advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, machine vision, and autonomous driving are being deployed to tackle the challenges we’re seeing in the global economy.
If we have any agricultural professionals among our readers, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts. Would we ever use a self-driving tractor on your farms? Are you using one already? Send me your thoughts by clicking right here.
Driverless cars just hit the streets of Austin and Miami…
Let’s move from self-driving tractors to self-driving taxis. We had yet another fantastic development in the autonomous driving space this week.
Self-driving start-up Argo AI is now testing its technology without a safety driver in two cities – Austin, Texas, and Miami, Florida. This is a huge milestone for the company.
And it looks like consumers enjoy the experience. Here’s footage from some of the first test rides:
Argo AI Test Footage
This is great. We can see the passengers in awe as the car’s wheel turns by itself.
And something else stands out in this clip… Argo is testing during the day. In two congested, urban cities. This is huge.
If we remember, Cruise is only offering its self-driving taxi services in San Francisco at night. That’s when congestion on the road is light. And this of course makes it easier for the car to operate.
And if we look at Google’s Waymo, it launched service in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area. Waymo does offer rides during the day. And I have had the privilege of taking one – the tech is fantastic.
Jeff’s Ride in Waymo’s Self-Driving Taxi
However, Phoenix is not nearly as dense of an urban area as Austin and Miami. The fact that Argo AI is braving these cities during the day is telling. Argo is clearly confident that its technology is capable of navigating complex situations.
So Argo AI is setting itself up as one of the key players in the autonomous driving space.
And if we remember, both Ford and Volkswagen have invested over a billion dollars into the company. These two auto giants are strategically aligning themselves with Argo AI. That’s meaningful.
Also of note, Lyft still owns 2.5% of Argo AI. There’s another big strategic alignment.
In its most recent quarterly earnings release, Lyft reported that it is experiencing driver shortages, and that those shortages are curtailing revenue. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lyft deploy robo-taxi fleets powered by Argo’s tech before the year is out.
And yes, there will be incredible investment opportunities in this space. But while most investors will immediately think of automakers like Ford or ride-sharing companies like Lyft, I’d suggest another strategy.
My favorite way to invest in the self-driving trend is through the suppliers that sell the foundational technology to these companies. And if we’d like exposure to self-driving technology, there’s one company, in particular, I’d recommend. Learn more here.
Apple is refining its virtual reality strategy…
Apple just received two new patents around virtual reality (VR) technology. And they give us a view into the tech giant’s VR strategy.
The first patent addresses the issue of vision correction. This is something first-generation VR headsets neglect completely.
Right now, VR headsets don’t fit very well over the top of glasses. So anyone with vision problems who wants to experience VR needs contact lenses. But many people don’t wear contacts, and roughly 10% of people who wear glasses have prescriptions that don’t work for contacts.
Apple plans to solve this problem with an adjustable lens system. It can be tuned to adjust the lenses within the VR headset according to the user’s vision correction prescription.
It will require complex technology to pull this off. But it’s certainly a neat concept. And it’s consistent with Apple’s core product strategy.
When Apple enters a new market, it strives to produce one product that will work for everybody. This requires Apple to over-engineer its products, but it greatly simplifies its product manufacturing and allows the company to scale quickly and increase its own gross margins.
We see this very clearly with the iPhone. Apple doesn’t produce all kinds of different iPhone models. Instead, each generation of the iPhone is basically the same. Apple does offer a high-end version of each model with premium features… but it’s still the same iPhone.
So this patent reflects that same ethos. Apple doesn’t want to produce a separate VR headset for those who wear glasses. The company wants one product that will work for all.
As for the second patent, it envisions self-cleaning lenses. The patent outlines the ability for the headset to vibrate the lenses at such a high frequency that any particles will fall off into a small dust collector bin just below them.
Apple is rarely ever the first to market, but it always enters with features, design, and quality that others don’t have. And that’s what we’re seeing with these patents.
This is an exciting year, as I expect Apple to reveal an early version of its new AR/VR headset at its annual September conference this year. And that will take us one step closer to the mainstream adoption of this technology.
And once again, there will be incredible investment implications as this unfolds. To learn more on my favorite stocks to take advantage of the AR/VR megatrend, go right here.
Editor, The Bleeding Edge
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