Washington’s war on “deepfakes”…

We have talked about how artificial intelligence (AI) can now create fake videosfake speeches… even clone voices… And Washington is now catching on to this severe threat to democracy.

The House of Representatives just proposed the “Deep Fakes Accountability Act.” This bill, coded H.R. 3230, would require anyone who creates media portraying a real person to disclose whether it is real or fake.

In other words, media created by an AI would have to be labeled as such. And the bill even suggests using digital watermarks to verify media… which is something we talked about before also.

If passed, the penalty for violating this bill would be a steep fine and up to five years in prison.

It is great to see that Congress has recognized how serious an issue this is. And I’m happy to see how early Congress is tackling it. After all, this technology has just evolved as a major threat earlier this year.

The ethical questions mankind will face in the next decade will be unprecedented. There is no historical example of what we are going to face.

As a technologist, I believe that technology has always been a force for good. And I believe technology will continue to solve society’s biggest problems in the years ahead.

But we are at an inflection point. Over the next two decades, either our society will become one of abundance for all… or it will descend into chaos.

I am definitely in the camp that has an optimistic view of the future.

The next Pokémon Go

Private tech company Niantic just launched its next augmented reality (AR) game called Harry Potter: Wizards Unite… And it’s sure to be a megahit.

If you recall, Niantic is the company behind Pokémon Go – the AR game that launched in 2016. In a rolling 24-hour launch around the world, Pokémon Go was installed 7.5 million times. And it immediately became the highest revenue-generating application in U.S. app stores.

In fact, the response was so large, it took down the network. It was complete chaos for the first few days as Niantic scrambled to add computing resources to support consumer demand.

As the dust settled, Pokémon Go went on to generate nearly $2 billion in revenue over the next 24 months. And now, Niantic is at it again with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

It just launched the game on Sunday… but only in the U.S. and U.K.

This was smart given the massive demand expected. Niantic is gradually rolling out to the rest of the world this time. That will avoid the server crashes that plagued Pokémon Go’s launch.

Still, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite generated $300,000 on day one. And it rocketed to the top of U.S. app stores for most downloads.

So Niantic will put up incredible numbers once again. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will become one of the most successful applications of all time…

And that proves that AR gaming is an extraordinary business.

Now think about this… Consumers are flocking to these AR games that run on smartphones. But smartphones are an awkward way to experience AR. You hunch over your phone… move it around… squint at the screen… It’s just not a great experience. Yet people are spending billions of dollars on it.

So what do we think will happen when the first consumer-grade AR glasses are launched?

AR glasses will make the AR experience seamless. No more hunching and squinting… You can play the game right in your line of sight as you walk around freely. That’s a game changer.

I’ve said it before… AR glasses are the next mass-market consumer frenzy. And they won’t be just for games.

AR glasses will do everything your smartphone does today… and much more. And it will do all of this in a seamless, natural way. These devices will ultimately replace the smartphone.

JPMorgan is finally focusing on digital banking services…

Word is out that JPMorgan is working on a secretive digital banking project in its London offices.

According to inside sources, the investment bank is recruiting high-level developers… But candidates must sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) just to get an interview. The NDA makes it illegal for them to talk about the project to anyone… even if they are not hired.

This level of secrecy is why JPMorgan is keeping the project out of Silicon Valley. It is trying hard to keep it under wraps.

The mainstream media says this is strategic. To me, this signals that JPMorgan is in panic mode.

Today, roughly two-thirds of Americans predominantly use digital and mobile services to do their banking. But JPMorgan completely missed this shift to online and mobile-first banking… because it was clueless about what consumers really want.

Consumers want competitive offerings and automated services. They don’t want to wait in line at a bank. They want to do banking from a simple interface, on either their phone or their laptop.

That’s why digital-first start-ups like Chime and Green Dot are tearing up the market. These are “banks” without branches… they are mobile banking only.

Chime has four million accounts, and it is still an early stage technology company. The company says its customers come from the big banks that consumers have lost trust in… like Wells Fargo.

And Green Dot has 6 million accounts as a public company. It did over $1 billion in revenue last year.

These start-ups have incumbents like JPMorgan scrambling…

Digital-first companies like Chime and Green Dot have pulled in millions of customers… But there are around 120 million people in the U.S. aged 18–50. That’s a huge market that will gradually migrate over to digital banking in the coming years.

Companies like Chime are the kinds of early stage companies I track closely, looking for an upcoming IPO. Chime delivers a great product with a great user experience and without all of the typical fees incumbents charge for the same services.

Financial services companies in particular are ripe for going public. Being a listed company, and filing quarterly financials, is one of the best ways for financial services to build additional trust in the market. Transparency is critical in the financial services industry. Chime would benefit greatly by making that final step as a company… and I’ll be watching closely.


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge