• Quantum computing for the masses
  • An end to dementia? It may not be as impossible as we think…
  • You won’t believe what the DMV is doing with your data

Dear Reader,

The big news out late last week was about the extraordinary economic numbers out of the U.S.

266,000 jobs were added in November, the second-best month of the year after January’s 312k. If we believed the mainstream press or the economists, we would have expected a weakening market.

Instead, unemployment is sitting at 50-year lows (3.5%), the lowest in my lifetime. And wages are up 3.1% compared to last year. What a strong way to finish 2019. It’s hard to find a reason to be bearish with numbers like these.

And, yes, this is great news for those interested in investing, and profiting, from technology companies. In fact, we’ve recently booked a 430% gain on a company that we’ve held for just five weeks in Early Stage Trader, one of my research publications.

Now for our insights…

Amazon Web Services is going quantum…

Last week, Amazon held its 2019 re:Invent conference. This is one of the biggest events in the world of high tech each year.

It is where Amazon tends to make its most important announcements regarding its Amazon Web Services (AWS) division… the cash cow of Amazon. And that’s exactly what happened last week…

Amazon announced the launch of cloud-based quantum computing services through AWS. This is a game changer.

As a reminder, AWS is the largest cloud computing service provider in the world. In 2018, AWS generated $25.7 billion in revenue for Amazon. That’s just cloud revenue. It has nothing to do with Amazon’s e-commerce business.

And now AWS will offer quantum computing services to scientists, researchers, developers, and anyone else who wants to experiment with the technology.

What’s more, Amazon will offer quantum computers from several different providers. This is important because different kinds of quantum computers are good at different things. We talked about that last Thursday.

Last Thursday, we also mentioned that D-Wave’s quantum annealing technology was the first quantum computing technology to be available in the cloud. Rigetti was the second to make its quantum computer available in the cloud, and now Amazon, in its typical fashion, has made a marketplace of quantum computing available.

Amazon will offer D-Wave’s quantum annealing technology through AWS. In addition, AWS will have a computer from IonQ, which uses a trapped ion approach to quantum computing.

AWS will also have a computer from Rigetti, which uses superconducting quantum technology. If we recall, the superconducting approach to quantum has the potential to produce a universal quantum computer.

Here’s what’s important about this…

We just hit the point of quantum supremacy back in September. That’s the point when a quantum computer outperformed the most powerful classical supercomputer on earth.

And Amazon is already providing access to three different quantum computing technologies. And it is making quantum technology available to anyone in the world.

That means quantum computing is not going to be monopolized by a single government or a single giant company. Instead, anyone can rent quantum computing time at will… down to the second.

Amazon Web Service is immediately democratizing access to one of the most powerful technologies in the world, just weeks after the point of quantum supremacy.

And we should remember, Google’s quantum computer solved an incredibly complex problem in just 200 seconds. That’s how fast quantum computing is. So users won’t need to rent large blocks of quantum computing time from AWS.

The practical implications are that quantum computing technology will be able to be “rented” by the second, or even millisecond, which will be consistent with how Amazon Web Service works today.

In other words, the service will be affordable to not only large and small corporations but also academic institutions, research labs, and even individual scientists and researchers.

How to make your brain younger…

Very interesting research was published in Science Translational Medicine last week. Researchers at the University of California Berkeley demonstrated a drug capable of reducing inflammation in the brain. This may sound like a boring topic, but here is the kicker…

Reversing inflammation appears to reverse the mental decline that comes with aging. That’s right – this treatment may make our brains younger.

As we know, mental decline is a common side effect of getting old. Inflammation in the brain is a big part of that.

And once a person hits 70 years old, it is common for the blood-brain barrier – the filtration system that prevents molecules and infections in our blood from spreading to our brain – to become leaky, allowing in chemicals that increase inflammation.

Of course, inflammation in the brain is also linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. This is a big problem.

In fact, about 50 million people live with dementia around the world today. And nearly 10 million new cases are diagnosed every year. I’m sure all of us know somebody who has been impacted by this terrible disease.

Well, this new treatment may be the solution. Early testing in mice shows that the drug can stop the inflammation and make the brain younger, reversing dementia.

The next step is to see if the treatment can work on humans. It’s still early days. But if human trials are successful, it would suggest we could remain mentally sharp well into our golden years.

Combine that with the rise of precision medicine – which we have covered in these pages – and it would mean people living into their hundreds operating at peak mental performance. What an exciting prospect.

We’ll keep you posted on future developments in these pages…

The DMV took a page from Google’s playbook…

As regular readers know, we often call out companies like Google and Facebook for their transgressions with regard to our data.

These companies take our data, package it up, and sell it to the highest bidder – all without our consent and without sharing any profits with us. As a result, they are two of the most incredible businesses the world has ever seen.

Well, startling public records show that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has gotten in on the act…

Hundreds of pages of documents just revealed that the DMV has a widespread practice of selling our data to many different firms.

For example, the Virginia DMV sold data to 109 private investigator firms. As did the New Jersey DMV to at least 16 firms. Wisconsin’s DMV has data-sharing agreements with around two dozen firms. And Delaware has similar agreements with more than 12 firms.

The list goes on and on…

And we aren’t talking about internet search data here. We are talking about personal data a bad actor would need to engage in identity theft. The DMV collects this data when we apply for a driver’s license and then turns around and sells it.

This begs the question… Why is the DMV doing this? Of course, we already know the answer. It is making a killing.

Documents show that the California DMV is making $50 million a year selling personal data. And in 2017, Florida’s DMV made a whopping $77 million by selling data. In 2018, Wisconsin’s DMV raked in $17 million. And even little old Rhode Island has made $384,000 since 2015 by selling data.

Clearly, this is a massive abuse of our sensitive data. And to make matters worse, we can’t get away from it.

With Google and Facebook, at least we can choose not to use their products. We don’t have that same choice when it comes to our state’s DMV. And since most of us need a driver’s license to get around, we have no way of avoiding it.

Worst yet, the DMV is a state government agency… One would think that the sale of some of our most private information without our consent would be restricted by a government agency… But apparently not.

I wish I could offer a solution for readers. But there doesn’t appear to be a good one. Fixing this problem would likely require a federal law forbidding this misuse of data.

But at least we are now aware of this problem. And I’m hoping that the release of these public records will galvanize the public to engage with their state representatives to put a stop to this practice.

As if going to the DMV wasn’t bad enough already…


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

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