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.

The retirement age of the future: 100…

First up is a great question about working with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). And it got me thinking on the changing nature of retirement…

I’m a 72-year-old retiree. I feel like I’m 45-50, and I’m looking to take a few online courses. I love using technology. I’ve been using it since my Navy days in the 1960s and right through my career in finance and ops. I implemented a program to introduce PCs into our workplace in the early ’80s.

How realistic is it to try and get contract work at entry level after taking machine learning/AI courses? I realize that experience is key here, but I’m thinking of giving it a shot anyway. Thoughts?

– John H.

Thanks for writing in, John. I can’t tell you how great it is to hear your desire to keep learning – and better yet, to retrain in an exciting field like AI/ML and continue to be productive. I’ll get to the details below, but in short, if you can develop the skills through the courses, you’ll definitely have work.

And I’ll tell you why in one simple chart.

As I mentioned last week, the demand for skilled workers familiar with artificial intelligence is booming. It’s far outpacing the supply of skilled workers.

The chart shows us the gap between job listings for AI-related work and the number of applicants who can fill those positions.

As you can see, there are about 2.9 times more jobs than there are applicants in this industry. That’s how hot the market is. And this gap is widening. Anybody with knowledge and certifications in AI/ML technology certainly won’t be overlooked by employers.

Here’s where motivated people like yourself can get started: edX (www.edX.org) is a great place to begin. A lot of the content is free, and edX is backed by MIT, one of the hot spots for AI/ML. Coursera is another site for online learning, and there are several AI/ML courses from famous professors at Stanford available (www.coursera.org/stanford).

With enough progress, the optimal route would be to earn a microdegree or a nanodegree from a site like Udacity. These kind of short, highly specialized degrees are the future of professional education. We can think of them like a professional certification for a specific skill in an area of AI/ML. And there are already several interesting subspecializations to choose from.

On completion, you’d definitely be ready for the job market. And a job in the classification of learning sets for training an AI would be an easy entry point to the machine learning field and might not even require a nanodegree.

Another way to get a foot in the door might be through freelance work found on a site like Upwork. If you want to get even more engaged, a more traditional route through something like LinkedIn would be likely.

And your question brings up another good point: The nature of retirement is changing.

One of the trends we’ve covered in these pages is the rise of personalized medicine and genetic editing. Thanks to this technology, we’ll live well into our hundreds with a much higher quality of life.

But with a longer life expectancy comes a new way of thinking about retirement. After all, I doubt very many of us are preparing for retirement with the expectation that we will live to 120.

In the near future, I suspect it will be common for Americans to work much longer, retrain more often, and have several careers throughout a lifetime. I’m already on my third (and fourth) career. And I’m sure these won’t be my last.

The threat of “deepfakes”…

Next is a question on cyberattacks and what we can do to protect the integrity of our elections…

Hi Jeff, I love reading The Bleeding Edge every day. But I am wondering, with all the technology we have, why can’t we stop the Russians and Chinese from invading our social media and voting technology?

I am an 80-year-old dyslexic lady. [In] the early 1980s, computers saved me and allowed me to get a degree. Today, I am retired and still fantasize about where the future of technology is. I like the way you think and present your knowledge.

– Lise S.

Hi, Lise. I’m happy to hear you’re enjoying The Bleeding Edge. I know precisely how you feel. We’re living through a time of incredible innovation. The technology that will be developed in the next 5 to 10 years will dwarf all the advancements of the last hundred. It’s an exciting time.

As to your question, you’re correct. The U.S. government and the technology industry need to take the presence and threat of state-sponsored cyberattacks and social media, election, and news manipulation far more seriously. As I shared with you last week, it was recently revealed that China had hacked into 10 major wireless carriers and was monitoring 20 political and military targets.

And Russian media outlets tied to the Russian government have been spreading false news about health concerns related to 5G wireless technology in an effort to slow the U.S. economic growth down… by stopping U.S. wireless network upgrades to 5G.

(Why are Russia and China desperate to stop the rollout of America’s 5G wireless networks? And why does President Trump say that America “must win” the 5G race? I’ll give you the answers next Thursday during my free 5G investing summit. Go here to secure your spot.)

These sort of high-profile cyber espionage campaigns underscore how essential cybersecurity is today.

And as for the question of securing our social media platforms from bad actors, one of the most disturbing trends is the rise of “deepfake” videos. We talked about this back in June. These are AI-powered videos that look and sound like the real thing. But they are entirely fabricated.

This week, we got another example of this technology in action. You can watch the video here. It shows the actor Bill Hader being interviewed. But watch closely. His face transforms as he impersonates other actors. It’s very convincing.

Can you imagine if this technology was applied to a high-profile figure like the president of the United States? What would happen if a deepfake video like that went viral on social media? It would be chaos.

That’s why addressing deepfake videos is so critical. I expect this to be a major point of focus for the industry as we head into the 2020 elections.

My prediction is that we will see technology companies develop a format for verifying content – both tweets and video. The technology industry will, in essence, digitally “watermark” authentic content, and then social media platforms and websites will be able to confirm real content versus fake.

With this technology in place, we as consumers will be able to trust content again and immediately discard anything that hasn’t been verified.

While bad people will still try to do bad things with technology, I remain firmly optimistic about our future.

Your escape pod from the data collectors…

Let’s conclude with a question on how to protect yourself from the data collectors…

Hi Jeff, Every time I turn around, it seems like our privacy is under attack… Facebook, Google, etc. Whether it is capturing your brainwaves or spying from the stratosphere, [something] is constantly prying into each of our lives. If it were simply to “provide relevant ads,” that is one thing, but no one knows how this data will ultimately be used. Other than VPNs [virtual private networks], it would seem to be a great service if a search engine, or another type of service, was available with untraceable capability.

– Ray M.

Thanks for writing in, Ray. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m on record stating that I dislike Facebook’s business model. I deleted my own Facebook account years ago when I discovered what it was doing with my data.

As a brief aside, I did recommend Facebook to the readers of my large-cap investing service, The Near Future Report, in October. I have to admit that Facebook is an amazing investment, even if I personally disapprove of how the company uses and mismanages our data.

As for Google…

With the recent revelations on how Google manipulates its so-called unbiased search algorithm (catch up here and here), you’d be absolutely justified to look for an alternative.

And as I’ve been showing readers this week, there most certainly are alternatives.

If you’re interested in a search engine that doesn’t collect and sell your data, I encourage you to try DuckDuckGo. It’s a search engine that prioritizes user privacy. And instead of Google’s Chrome web browser, you can try the Brave browser instead.

Both of these services are generally on par with the products from Google. And with Brave, you even get paid to use the product (more on that right here).

While we might not be able to imagine a world without Google or Facebook, I can tell you that the next generation of companies that will disrupt these giants have already been founded. It may take some time, but these companies will come to an end as disruptors deliver products and services that are superior to what exists today.

That’s all the time we have for questions this week. If you have a question you’d like answered, submit it right here, and I’ll do my best to get to it next week.


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge


P.S. And if you haven’t already, I encourage you to sign up for my free 5G investing summit. We’re calling it The Final Phase of the 5G Boom. The event is next Thursday – August 22 – at 8 p.m. ET.

During the event, I’ll demonstrate my strategy for pinpointing key 5G stocks. I’m talking about companies that are essential to the 5G rollout. I expect their stock prices to climb 10x – and perhaps higher – as this unstoppable trend continues to unfold.

If you show up to the event, I’ll even give you a new 5G company to add to your watchlist (I guarantee you’ve never heard of it). Reserve your spot and lock in your free 5G watchlist report by going right here.