• This robotic arm is helping solve the labor shortage…

  • Coinbase is betting on its own success…

  • Reading the fine print on Waymo’s numbers…

Dear Reader,

Thanks to the three-day weekend in the U.S., there was extra time for some interesting reading. 

For me, that meant there was time to review research out of Israel published on August 25 entitled Comparing SARS-CoV-2 natural immunity to vaccine-induced immunity: reinfections versus breakthrough infections.

Israel has been an important bellwether for vaccines on a global level because of its aggressive and successful rollout of the vaccine to the majority of its population – roughly 80%.

Public health officials have largely and incorrectly implied that once everyone has the vaccine, things will be fine and COVID-19 won’t spread. 

Israel is a perfect example of this. The research was conducted because there was evidence of waning vaccine-induced immunity against COVID-19 and a wide spread of the virus as evidenced by the large spike in the number of cases.

Smartly, local scientists wanted to determine which group had stronger immunity to COVID-19 – those who received the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine, or those who were unvaccinated but had already been infected with COVID-19 and recovered.

The results were incredible. And they were very clear.

The scientific research determined that those who had been vaccinated had a 27-fold higher risk for a symptomatic breakthrough infection compared to a symptomatic reinfection for those who were unvaccinated and had already contracted and recovered from COVID-19. Again, that’s 27 times more at risk, not 27%. Remarkable!

What does this mean? The conclusion of the study summed it up perfectly:

This study demonstrated that natural immunity confers longer lasting and stronger protection against infection, symptomatic disease and hospitalization caused by the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, compared to the BNT162b2 two-dose vaccine-induced immunity.

The fact that natural immunity is stronger and longer lasting than anything conferred by a vaccine is not a surprise. We’ve known this. This research, however, shows us the degree to which natural immunity is better.

We also know that natural immunity from an influenza or coronavirus can last a lifetime.

Back in 2008, researchers from Vanderbilt University tracked down 32 survivors from the 1918 Spanish influenza, the youngest of which was 91 at the time. Through blood samples, every single one of the survivors was determined to still be immune to the 1918 virus.

A study last summer concluded the same thing for those who had and recovered from SARS-CoV-1 back in 2003 (often referred to as the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong).

Not only did the study prove that natural immunity lasted 17 years and counting, but that the prior immunity was also effective against a similar virus, SARS-CoV-2… what we all know as COVID-19.

Based on the body of scientific research around natural immunity, it is impossible for me to trust any public health official who wants to mandate vaccines or vaccine passports without acknowledging natural immunity. Aside from being a violation of our basic freedoms and rights, it ignores the “science.” 

The safest cohort of individuals – the group that is of the least risk to anyone at all – consists of those who have developed natural immunity. Period.

Natural immunity can be developed by both those who have never received a vaccine as well as by those who have received a vaccine.

And as we have seen in Israel and elsewhere around the world, vaccines don’t stop us from catching COVID-19. They simply help our bodies manage the virus if we haven’t had it already.

Mandates are highly unethical and not backed by scientific research. They do not consider the individual circumstances of our health – like having natural immunity. And for those who have already recovered from COVID-19, vaccines can actually introduce the unnecessary risk of common vaccine side effects.

I’m grateful for this research from Israel. I doubt it will receive much coverage in the media, but I’m certain that there will be more scientific research that mirrors the evidence to follow. 

And in a few years’ time, we’ll look back and recognize how badly so many of the public health “experts” failed us throughout this pandemic – they were feeding us misinformation all along.

Robots are addressing the labor shortage…

It wasn’t too long ago when robotics companies were primarily hardware manufacturing companies. They would build and sell products, and then they would work closely with customers to help program robots to perform a very specific task.

Rapid Robotics doesn’t fit that model. In fact, it doesn’t manufacture robots at all. The company focused on design, software, and service, while outsourcing the actual manufacturing to another company.

By using relatively inexpensive, off-the-shelf manufacturing, costs can remain lower while making the robots highly useful.

Here is a picture of the robotic arm. It’s a six-axis robot pre-programmed with industrial skillsets. This gives it the ability to grab small items on an assembly line and perform tasks like injecting molding, assembly, and other repetitive tasks.

Rapid Machine Operator by Rapid Robotics

Source: Rapid Robotics

This is a unique approach to robotics. And it’s also an interesting way to approach the problem of the current labor shortage.

With the influx of government stimulus, companies are not just short-staffed – they’ve been having a difficult time getting people to simply show up to an interview.

And Rapid Robotics can fill the gap.

Rapid’s machines also allow manufacturers to free up their human machine operators for more complex and high-value work.

Even better, this technology is not just accessible to the largest businesses in the world. Rapid makes its robotics affordable so that they’re within the range of small and mid-sized businesses.

Rapid employs a robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) business model. A business pays just $2,100 a month to lease the arm that can run around the clock for its factory.

This is less than the cost of a full-time worker, with no benefits packages to worry about. And it has the ability to work 24 hours a day. That price point and functionality are made possible by using off-the-shelf hardware and combining it with artificial intelligence (AI) – the software.

And this combination is paying off…

The company’s focused approach to robotic design is leading to a skyrocketing valuation. In the span of nine months, Rapid held a seed, Series A, and Series B round, raising $54 million in total.

Rapid’s valuation rose 14x in nine months to $192 million. It’s an incredible amount of appreciation in such a short amount of time for a robotics company.

This is the convergence we’ve been talking about at Brownstone Research. This is where technologies combine to accelerate rapid development.

Rapid is adding AI to off-the-shelf robotics. We had a look at something similar with Atlas – the robot by Boston Dynamics. That AI-enabled robot is capable of complex physical tasks like parkour by using its software for perception.

And as we look into 2022, we are sure to see these kinds of convergences continue to accelerate the landscape of technology and biotechnology.

Whether it’s AI applied to robotics… AI applied to biotechnology… wireless technology combined with neuroscience… or computer vision applied to self-driving technology, it’s all happening right now. If you want to know what companies you can invest in today to play this technological trend, click here to learn more.

Coinbase is putting its cash into cryptocurrencies…

Coinbase, the first publicly traded cryptocurrency exchange, just announced its intention to add cryptocurrencies to its holdings.

You might recall Coinbase went public in April of this year. Since then, we have gained access to its financials to see just how successful a cryptocurrency exchange can be.

Turns out, it can be a monster business. In the first half of 2021, Coinbase produced $2.78 billion in net income. The company has already built up a cash reserve north of $4.3 billion.

What’s interesting here is that Coinbase now aims to allocate 10% of its quarterly income into cryptocurrency investments moving forward.

Based on its income for 2021, this will already amount to nearly $140 million per quarter on average.

What’s more, right out of the gate, Coinbase plans to invest $500 million of its treasury into cryptocurrencies.

This works out to almost 11% of its cash reserves.

Making such a decision is big news for any company – especially a publicly traded one. While some companies have made similar strides in allocating some holdings to bitcoin, we haven’t seen anything like what Coinbase is doing.

Coinbase will hold bitcoin, ether, decentralized finance (DeFi) tokens, Proof of Stake assets, and more on its balance sheet. This makes it the first public company to allocate a significant share of its treasury to a diverse portfolio of crypto assets. And it is doing so using a programmatic approach based on its future income.

For a cryptocurrency exchange, this makes perfect sense. Coinbase has built an on-ramp into digital assets and its goal is to make all digital assets accessible on its exchange.

And as its success grows, the cryptocurrency asset class is likely to grow with it. This is a leveraged way for Coinbase to benefit from its own success and that of the industry.

The equally interesting angle is that, as Coinbase expands its balance sheet with cryptocurrency holdings, it will become a cryptocurrency exchange-traded fund (ETF) of sorts.

The company will hold a basket of cryptocurrencies that it will balance over time. This is very similar to an ETF. 

The most ironic part is that no financial services company has been able to get approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to create a cryptocurrency ETF to date. There hasn’t yet been approval even for a bitcoin ETF. Yet with this move, Coinbase almost becomes a proxy.

I expect this type of move will lead to additional investment in Coinbase, especially in the absence of any ETF products.

That’s why we’ve begun introducing readers to the world of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology here at Brownstone Research. If you’d like to learn about my newest research service, simply go right here.

The company that is way ahead of Google…

For our last story, let’s touch on Waymo and its latest milestone.

To get readers up to speed, Waymo is the self-driving division of Google that raised $2.5 billion a few months ago. The company has been developing autonomous driving technology that is currently being commercially tested in well-defined geographical areas in a part of Phoenix and, most recently, San Francisco.

At the time of the raise, I mentioned that Google’s real ambitions do not involve competing with Uber and Lyft as a self-driving taxi service, like most believe.

Instead, Google wants Waymo to become the dominant provider of operating systems for the automotive industry. It wants its technology to be in every self-driving car on the road.

This would give Google access to consumers not just while they are at home or online, but also while they commute to and from work. It would immensely expand Google’s dossier on individuals in order to better serve advertising. Not to mention, it would add a lot more screen time to serve up those ads.

In pursuit of these ambitions, Waymo is collecting data to better improve its software.

It has been testing its vehicles in San Francisco since 2009. Earlier this year, it ramped up its efforts and now clocks about 100,000 miles on San Francisco streets each week.

All of this progress led to the company announcing it has now logged more than 20 million miles driven in fully autonomous mode. Additionally, it claims to have performed an additional 20 billion miles in simulation.

Simulations are important, but they are not the real world. And while 20 million miles may sound like a lot, it is nothing compared to what Tesla has done. As of the end of last year, Tesla had exceeded five billion miles’ worth of real world driving on Autopilot… on actual roads in every imaginable condition.

This has been possible because when a Tesla enters Autopilot mode, it sends its data back to the company. This way, Tesla is gathering not only more data but more diverse data since its customers are not learning from a limited geographical area like Waymo’s cars.

And the best part is that Tesla isn’t collecting data on its customers. Its end goal isn’t to surveil consumers so that it can sell access to advertisers.

It is remarkable to me how so much of the media and the automotive industry try to downplay what Tesla is accomplishing. There simply is no comparison.

And later this month, Tesla will release its self-driving beta version 10. In fact, the company is going to be making version 10 available as a beta release to the public on September 25.

Prior to this, the beta versions have only been made available to a small number of engaged Tesla owners willing to participate in the beta trials. This is an indication of the level of confidence that Tesla has for this new version of its self-driving technology.

In this latest version, I expect to see some remarkable updates based on the progress we’ve seen over the last few months. Perhaps we’ll even learn more about Tesla’s master plan for shared autonomous vehicles. (Go right here for that story.)

I believe this new release will really catch the industry off guard. No one is expecting it. Most people believe this technology is five to 10 years away, but they’re going to find out in a few weeks that it is in the very Near Future.

And I’m happy to say that here at The Bleeding Edge, we won’t be fooled. Our friends, family, and colleagues will be amazed when they realize what we’ve been telling them all along is no longer science fiction, but science fact.

We have so much to look forward to.

Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

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