• Who is left to work in an automated world? 
  • Will agriculture go electric? 
  • How do SPAC deadlines work? 

Dear Reader,

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.

Who will produce what we need to live? 

Let’s begin with a question on the nature of work:

It has become very hard to find people to work now. We are short-staffed where I work, and hiring is difficult. If the majority of the people in the world can support themselves and their families by earning money/cryptos with NFT games such as Axie Infinity, the Worldcoin Orb, etc., or by speculating in the stock market or receiving help from the government – then who is left to work? Who will produce what is needed to survive? 

Will we live in a completely automated world where all things are grown and harvested by automation, all necessities are ordered online, made and delivered by robots and automated vehicles? Even a lot of surgery is done now by robots. 

George Gilder states that new technology will create more jobs. I guess my question is, “What will a ‘job’ be 25 or 50 years from now?” (My son wants to live in space, so I imagine there will be work for him there.) I have enjoyed tremendously reading and learning so much from your services. 

– Shawn G. 

Hi, Shawn, and thanks for writing about such an interesting topic. It sounds like your son has great ambitions! As we’ve seen with companies like SpaceX and Axiom, there are incredible job opportunities in the aerospace industry right now. 

And assuming Axiom is successful in building the first private, commercial space station, the company will need a team to staff it. If I were his age, I’d be right alongside him in heading for the stars. 

As for your question… this is a topic that comes up frequently. And the current labor shortage has brought the issue into even greater focus. 

More and more companies are turning to automation to fill roles that people are reluctant or unwilling to do.

Despite many COVID-19 restrictions being eliminated, we’re seeing people quitting their jobs at record levels rather than returning to their old workplaces in the current environment. 

That’s creating a catalyst for the adoption of automation and robotics in many industries.

So automation will definitely change the landscape of our world even faster than we anticipated… and it will replace jobs. A simple example of a shift in work is robotics as applied to fast food. Rather than flipping burgers, we’ll need qualified technicians at higher pay to clean and maintain those robotic arms.

Self-driving cars, contactless shopping, factory robotics – and, yes, even robotic surgeons – will impact many people in the job market in a very similar way. 

The key point is that this shift in the market doesn’t mean jobs will disappear. They will evolve to meet our new needs and take advantage of these new technologies.

We’ve seen these types of transitions throughout history. As an easy example, we can think back to the Industrial Revolution. Steam power and mechanization turned certain careers upside down… especially jobs that required repetitive, physical, often grueling tasks. 

Instead of mass unemployment, however, the world experienced an explosion of productivity and growth that ultimately created many more jobs than were lost. 

In today’s “revolution,” I expect we’ll see something very similar. No doubt some of these new jobs will happen in the metaverse, as we’ve discussed recently.

But other jobs will require highly skilled technical training and degrees in areas like robotics. And still more will appear in the construction industry to create the infrastructure for these changes. 

The broader image we should keep in mind, however, is that the nature of work is changing. We are evolving from the old days where we would go to school, study a single subject, and stay in a single line of work until retirement. 

Instead, we are going to need to be more flexible in our mindset about work. We’ll need to retrain and learn throughout our careers to develop new skills. Some of us will even pursue micro- or nano-degrees that provide highly specialized training for certain tasks.

Many will work for a handful of companies at the same time. Some will even “work” for decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO) that have no headquarters or offices. Income will come in the form of the native digital currency of the DAO.

There is only one thing that I’m concerned about, and you touched on it… the impact of government help. Programs like social security or unemployment are an important backstop when we retire or in the event of a transition from one job to another.

But what we’ve seen in the last year has essentially been an attempt at universal basic income (UBI) for a large swath of the population. It hasn’t worked. I would argue it has been a disaster and is largely responsible for the supply chain nightmare that we are experiencing today.

Perpetuating a belief that money is free and should be distributed “at will” is a frightening threat to the fabric of society. The feedback loop in 2021 from these policies has been extremely short. 

Trillions of dollars have been printed, and we have seen an immediate spike in the rate of inflation, which is now the highest that it has been in 31 years.

It is hurting everyone. Gas prices, food prices, the cost of labor – if we can find it, the cost of a car, insurance, nearly everything has jumped to unsustainable levels. Double-digit inflation rates would crash the stock market and destroy everyone’s life savings.

We must return to a basic economic truth. Those of us who are physically and intellectually capable of work must contribute to society in a productive way. We’ll be compensated for our work, pay our taxes (hopefully, reasonable taxes), save and invest, and look forward to a happy retirement when the time is right.

The thought that anyone can do no work, get free money from the government, gamble in the stock or cryptocurrency markets, instantly become a millionaire, and retire like a king is a fantasy. I’m sure that many think this is possible, and a handful of people have certainly won the lottery. But in time, reality always comes home to roost.

And the reality of our future is as I described above. Most of us will be engaged in productive activity that is valued by others, for which we earn income to support ourselves and our families. For most people, I suspect that this will be a more interesting kind of work than the old 9-to-5 jobs that past generations thought were normal. 

We’ll be aided and assisted by technology, performing higher functions and tasks, and create a higher standard of life – and live longer, to boot. And we’ll be in far better health than our predecessors. 

Will we have EV tractors anytime soon? 

Next, a reader wants to know more about electric tractors:

Good day. I have found your articles quite revealing, and they have given me an understanding that I was lacking, especially with crypto and also how close electric vehicles (EVs) are to becoming mainstream. I am wondering, however, if there is any work involving EVs in agriculture. Like, will we have EV tractors and combine harvesters any time soon, or will these still require internal combustion engines? 

 – Batanai S. 

Hi, Batanai – thanks for being a reader. You’ve asked a very good question. While many of us might not think too much about technology’s applications for the agriculture industry, it’s actually a rapidly advancing area – and one that we’ve been covering frequently here in these pages… 

We’ve talked about Root AI’s robotic arm that autonomously picks produce at the peak of ripeness… 

Robotic Crop Picker

Source: Root AI

We’ve shared Iron Ox’s hydroponic growing environments and robotic harvesting system… which can cut water use by 90%… 

Iron Ox’s Hydroponics 

Source: Iron Ox

And we’ve written about John Deere’s acquisition of Bear Flag Robotics this year, a partnership that will enable autonomous driving technology for tractors and other equipment. 

An Autonomous Tractor

Source: The Robot Report

But we haven’t talked much about the convergence of electric vehicles and farm equipment like tractors or combines. 

Yet the answer to your question is a clear yes. We’re seeing advancements in this area too. Some interesting names are getting involved as well. 

Mark Schwager, who helped design and build Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory, has helped co-found one of the companies leading in this space. The company, Monarch, says its electric tractor has a battery that can last through about 10 hours of average work or five hours of heavier tasks.

Importantly, Monarch has designed its tech so it’s easy to switch out batteries. With just two batteries and a charger, its EV tractor can theoretically run 24 hours a day. 

And Monarch isn’t the only company working in this space. Solectrac (recently acquired by Ideanomics) released its e70N tractor this past August. This 70-horsepower machine offers all the capabilities of a diesel tractor and can operate for up to eight hours on a single charge. 

Another startup, Ztractor, offers an autonomous electric tractor model with sensors that will also collect data to help improve efficiency, plant condition, and yield.

As we can see, there’s definite interest in developing this technology for tractors. 

Electric combine harvesters, on the other hand, still have a ways to go. This is largely due to the very high energy requirements of harvesting and threshing. As of yet, electric batteries aren’t able to efficiently keep up with the demands of a combine.

However, as battery technology improves, we’ll no doubt begin to see startups emerge here as well. This is a growing space for innovation. 

And one final point… Just having electric vehicles for agriculture isn’t necessarily clean or good for the environment. It depends on where the electricity comes from.

In most agricultural areas, electricity comes from coal or natural gas plants, so there is little point in “fueling” an EV with electricity produced from carbon-based sources.

My hope and dream is that our politicians and policymakers understand this and support the kinds of projects that will produce clean, emissions-free electricity that we can use to fuel EVs of all kinds. 

Thanks for writing in.

When does the clock start ticking for SPACs?

Let’s conclude with a question about special purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC) deadlines:

Kazem here, a lifetime member of Brownstone Research. I enjoy every narrative you write about anything, as your in-depth narratives are always so deeply educational. I have no doubt that other members of your subscriptions share similar sentiments about you.

My question is a simple one. I would like to know exactly at what point in time the clock starts for the deadline a SPAC has to make an acquisition.

I’m logically thinking that the clock cannot start from the day an investor purchases units of the SPAC since different investors purchase at different times (not to mention that even the same investor may purchase additional units multiple times on different days. I have done this many times, myself). 

So I assume that the starting clock is always one particular point of origin for that particular SPAC. Can you kindly explain how that starting point of origin is decided on by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)? Thank you so much for your great service to us, the mainstream investors, and for giving us hope for a brighter financial future.

 – Kazem S. 

Hi, Kazem. Thank you for the kind words. It’s so great to have engaged readers like yourself who follow my work. And I’m glad you’ve joined me to learn more about SPACs. 

As a reminder for new readers, SPACs exist for one purpose: to combine with a private company to take it public. That allows regular investors the rare opportunity to essentially invest in a company before it goes public, which is when the greatest gains are possible.

We saw this recently with our first sell alert that we issued last week in my Blank Check Speculator research service. Conservative investors had the chance to lock in a 67% gain on shares while still holding our “bonus” warrants – already up more than 300% – for even more upside. 

But on very rare occasions, a SPAC can fail to find a company to merge with by its deadline. This is unfortunate… but the good news is, it doesn’t mean we lose our investment. This is a very unique aspect of investing in SPACs.

If a SPAC doesn’t complete a reverse merger by its deadline, then it must return all of the funds it raised during its own initial public offering (IPO) to shareholders, minus a small management fee. This is nearly always about $10 per share.

In Blank Check Speculator, we call this our “money back” guarantee.

As for determining when the deadline is, the company must specify the timeline it will follow. Usually, it is 18–24 months. 

And the clock starts ticking when the SPAC has its IPO. Once the SPAC is public, it has to find a promising company within that stated timeframe.

Here’s a visualization of the process that might be helpful (using a 24-month deadline): 

Source: PWC

Click to Enlarge

As we can see, the overall deadline is clear from the outset. The SPAC will follow these steps until it either completes a reverse merger or dissolves and returns funds to investors.

And for Blank Check Speculator subscribers, I share this timeline in every buy alert and tell readers exactly what day a SPAC’s money-back deadline is. That way, we can keep an eye on the calendar and know how much time is left.

There is one nuance, however. The shareholders of a SPAC can vote to extend the deadline in the event that they believe the SPAC sponsors will be able to find an attractive private company to merge with.

This doesn’t happen often, as most SPACs find a business combination within the first year. But every once in a while I’ll see it. 

If any readers are interested in learning more about SPACs, please go right here for the details.

That’s all we have time for this week. If you have a question for a future mailbag, you can send it to me right here

Have a good weekend.


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

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