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Ford’s New Self-Driving Car Features Baidu “Hal 9000” Technology

Daniel Chase

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The Phantom Jam

You’re driving down a major highway, not a car in sight, and today might be the day you have the fabled “reasonable commute.” You woke up twenty minutes earlier than usual just to give yourself a time cushion, made sure you had plenty of gas the night before and set out to start your workday off on the good foot. 

Out of nowhere it happens…Traffic rears its ugly head and cars start to slow down. Keeping your cool, you turn on a podcast about hydroponics in second-world countries, and then traffic stops altogether. Waze doesn’t say there’s any obstruction on the road, and yet, your commute is delayed 7 minutes. Suddenly, the traffic patterns change and you’re back to traveling at typical highway speeds. So what just happened? 

Traffic experts refer to this phenomena as “phantom traffic jams.” If every car traveled at the exact same speed, changed lanes in perfectly syncopated patterns, these jams would not be a problem, but as any driver knows, no one on the road is consistent. 

“These traffic waves arise from a small perturbation in a uniform traffic flow, like a bump in the road, or driver braking after a moment of inattention. These phantom jams arise in the absence of any obstacles,” says Benjamin Seibold, a mathematician at Temple University. He goes onto explain that the small “perturbations” that occur: one car braking slightly, and the ones behind it brake more to avoid a collision, creates the traffic-inducing chain reaction. 

While many engineers believe roads can be better designed to alleviate the obstacles that drivers fail to react to in time, thus causing phantom jams, the more innovative approach, according to Seibold will come in the form of self-driving cars. 

The Autonomous Automotive Industry 

In an effort to reduce traffic and improve the efficiency of transportation options for commuters and civilians alike, top carmakers and tech companies are placing their faith and resources into driverless car technology. On Tuesday, Ford Motor Company (F) and Baidu (BIDU), the Chinese internet company announced their plans to team up to develop autonomous-driving vehicles, in hopes of taking advantage of a potentially major disruption to the day-to-day of the automotive industry. 

Ford’s (F) decades of automobile manufacturing coupled with Baidu’s (BIDU) “technological know-how and understanding of China” indicates possible technological breakthroughs just beyond the horizon, according to CNN. The US automaker has already retrofitted some of its vehicles with Apollo, Baidu’s (BIDU) self-driving technology and the two companies will begin testing the new franken-tech “on open roads in Beijing that are specially designated for [autonomous vehicle] testing. 

Ford (F) and Baidu (BIDU) are not the only companies aware of the potential that driverless technology presents. Earlier this year, in August, Waymo, the self-driving sector of Google’s parent company, Alphabet (GOOG), set up shop in Shanghai. The new business was suspiciously named “Huimo Business Consulting,” according to a business registration filing uncovered by CNN. 

In response to a very real future where all cars on the road may not have humans behind the wheel, China released a set of national guidelines for companies looking to get their self-driving vehicles on the road. 

According to the regulation, issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, test vehicles must be able to “switch between self-driving and conventional driving in order to ensure the test driver can quickly take over in case of a malfunction.” 

These malfunctions can be life or death for passengers traveling in autonomous vehicles. Back in March, Tesla (TSLA) faced significant public backlash after one of their Model X SUV vehicles crashed into a highway center divider and exploded, taking the life of the driver in the process. Tesla (TSLA) admitted that the cause of the crash was a malfunction in their “Autopilot system.” 

The Tesla (TSLA) incident presents a very real danger for automotive consumers as well as industry investors concerned with how safe self-driving vehicles really are. Even if experts say that a computer is much less likely to make a mistake resulting in a car accident, it is impossible to account for every potential outcome. In other words, no self-driving car will be crash-proof. 

Bringing up serious sky-net vibes, humans are slowly being replaced by technology. 

Soon enough, we’ll be able to use a ride-hailing app like Uber to call for a ride home after a long night, and when the 2014 Toyota (TM) Corolla shows up, there will be no driver to ask the classic, “so how’s your night been going? 

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Show Me The Digital Currency

Daniel Chase

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It has been said if you listen closely, you can hear money talking louder than any other person in the room. For centuries, those with greater access to capital have had the privilege of sitting in the driver’s seat, while others living with less means have kowtowed to the demands of the affluent. In the year 740 B.C., long before you or I walked the Earth in search of avocado toast and AirPods, the Tang Dynasty in China introduced the first pieces of paper currency.

After they invited block printing (think stamps), the government started to print money because metal coins were far too heavy to carry compared to the featherweight nature of paper. Prior to the Tang Dynasty getting that paper, dozens of ancient civilizations used bartering systems to trade for what they needed. Ultimately, someone decided that coins and paper money held greater intrinsic value than shiny rocks or three seashells. 

In the thousands of years following the introduction of paper currency, we’ve seen a tidal shift in not only what money looks like, but how it is spent. According to an April 2017 survey, 40% of internet users in developed countries stated that they purchase items online at least “several times per month.” As we’ve seen with the rise of e-commerce sites like Amazon.com and other online shopping platforms, consumers are losing interest in buying products at brick-and-mortar locations.

Ironically enough, 70% of Americans still say they use paper money on a weekly basis, but several financial analysts believe the global economy is headed in a cashless direction. 

According to reports, Sweden, a nation lauded for being both technologically advanced and full of delicious meatballs, is expected to go completely cashless by March 2023, at which point cash will not be accepted any longer as a form of payment. Back in 2012, the six largest banks in Sweden collaborated to develop a mobile payment platform called Swish, which is now used by millions of Swedes every day. 

TechCrunch recently published a piece discussing how the Chinese government plans to implement the “Village Revitalization Strategic Plan,” which is designed to improve the efficiency and level of financial services for rural communities across the nation.

The goal, according to the set of guidelines jointly published by China’s central bank, the Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, the Securities Regulatory Commission, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs, is to “make mobile payments ubiquitous in rural China by the end of 2020. 

If we examine America’s potential to shift towards a cashless society, which could catalyze a global movement, the odds of this taking place are fairly likely. According to a 2017 survey conducted by CNBC, 50% of respondents said they carry cash with them less than half of the time when they are out, and if they do, 76% said they keep less than $50 on hand.

This trend has driven consumers to shift towards the use of debit cards. However, younger generations under the age of 18 cannot have their own checking account, so this has left a significant portion of the American population at an economic disadvantage. 

Luckily, a new mobile banking startup called Step wants to assist the next generation in understanding the value of a cashless dollar. The Company, founded by CJ MacDonald and Alexey Kalinichenko, former execs from the mobile gift card platform Gyft, started Step to help the nearly 75 million children and young adults under the age of 21 in the U.S., who are burdened by having to use cash for all their purchases. 

“Step” is banking on (apologies for the pun) the youthful spirit of todays’ teenagers who are hot to buy items on Amazon.com or purchase in-app downloads on their smartphones but are too young to have a debit/credit card. Step CEO Macdonald says the market for the startup isn’t based on the “unbanked,” it’s the “pre-banked.” 

“We’re building an all-in-one banking solution that primarily focuses on teens and parents. We want it to be a teen’s first bank account. We want to be a teen’s first spending card. And we want to teach financially literacy and responsibility firsthand.”

CJ MacDonald, Chief Executive Officer, Step 

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Back To The Food-ture

Daniel Chase

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Humanity is moving pretty fast, and if we don’t stop and look around once in while, we could miss it. Seemingly every day, tech startups receive seed funding to develop some crazy piece of technology meant to dramatically improve how we lives our lives, but the question is: do these companies understand what we really want or even need? First we need to understand the impetus behind many of these ideas. 

As a society with toddler-like attention spans, forever in search of the “next big thing,” it’s perfectly understandable that companies are sprouting left and right to capitalize on our fidgety nature. Having said that, I posit that it is time we take back our independence from technology that otherwise prohibits us from performing tasks we are perfectly capable of handling. 

Special Delivery! On-Demand Tech Companies Hit Billion-Dollar Valuations; Here’s How Investors Can Capitalize In The Market

The close of 2018 allowed investors across all industries to catch their breath after a  year of volatile upswings and economic downturns changing hands constantly. In that time, the tech stock market flourished with companies offering products and services to assist us in our time of panic. Considering that we made it out of 2018 largely unscathed, some of these companies, and their subsequent product offerings, are no longer necessary. 

One such sub sect of the tech industry that has proven its worth time and time again is that which includes companies developing delivery technology. While I fully agree that we’ve grown accustomed to a way of life that has slowly nurtured our codependence and inability to survive without it, there are some instances where tech has remedied serious systemic issues. Companies in delivery tech, specifically those working in on-demand food delivery are working to foster a healthy relationship between woman and machine, while still managing to make our lives easier. 

Food insecurity is an issue which affects millions of people around the world, and yet, as a global community, we have remained largely complacent in providing assistance. According to the USDA, a food desert is an area which is without access to fresh produce and other healthy foods. These areas are typically found in impoverished countries, and as a result, persons living in these places are at greater risk of malnutrtional diseases. 

In the United States, food deserts exist across the country. The horrific events of Hurricane Katrina left New Orleans and its people in a state of emergency. Though it occurred nearly fifteen years ago, a significant percentage of New Orleans residents still say they have to choose between buying food and paying bills, according to several analysts. 

Where companies in many industries have demonstrated apathy in terms of developing innovative solutions to assist people struggling to survive, there are some in the delivery tech industry determined to make a difference. 

Enter ParcelPal Technology Inc (PKG) (PT0.F) (PTNYF), a delivery tech company dead set on innovating, fabricating, distributing goods to consumers to improve their quality of life. At a time where access to food and supplies is difficult for millions of individuals, ParcelPal is determined to do what it takes to deliver to consumers what they need to get by. The Company recognized the systemic inequities that exist in society and sought to challenge tech industry norms and focus on consumers. 

The Company has managed to develop and maintain an easy-to-use marketplace platform where customers can shop for the products they love and use every day and, rather than pick these items up from locations that could be difficult to travel to, ParcelPal couriers deliver orders to customers in an hour or less. ParcelPal Technology Inc (PKG) (PT0.F) (PTNYF) was founded to make life easier for people, and has risen to the top of the industry because they’ve achieved exactly what they set out to accomplish. 

In recent news, ParcelPal Technology Inc (PKG) (PT0.F) (PTNYF)announced at the tail-end of January that the Company has formed partnership with MADD Canada to aid in the continuous fight to prevent impaired driving. As part of the ParcelPal’s national rollout campaign, advertising for ParcelPal’s service will be seen across the country in various educational forms. Together, MADD Canada and ParcelPal will launch a national awareness campaign focused on educating Canadians on the dangers of impaired driving and the options they have for getting items they want or need without leaving the party. 

An Affiliate of JSG Communications, MIDAM VENTURES LLC has been compensated $75,000 per month for 3 months by ParcelPal Technology, Inc. for a period beginning September 1, 2018 and ending February 1, 2019 to publicly disseminate information about (PTNYF/PKG). We may buy or sell additional shares of (PTNYF/PKG) in the open market at any time, including before, during or after the Website and Information, provide public dissemination of favorable Information. We own zero shares.

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Bitcoin Could Be Rescued By Milennials​

Daniel Chase

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Everyone has a friend or loosely connected acquaintance they they wish would just give it a rest. I’m talking about those people that are so damned impassioned about a particular topic that they not only post regularly about it on social media but at every party, function, or event, it’s really all they can talk about. For one friend of mine in particular, he always talks about cryptocurrencies with statements akin to Will Hunting when he hit his stride in that Southie bar.

We try to tell him that Bitcoin has been struggling to get out of bed after a near two-year dry spell after enjoying an earth-shattering bull run in 2017. Sure, in the past bitcoin’s price shot up from mere pennies to nearly $20,000 in less than a year, but the once-famous crypto has failed time and time again to break out of its bear market tendencies. 

Nearly a decade has passed since Nakamoto released the fabled white paper describing the primordial framework of a peer-to-peer currency network. At the time, an anonymous cryptographer, with the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto, was furious with the fact that consumers were slowly being falling prey to the inefficacies of banks and other financial institutions. 

Nakamoto wrote that “commerce on the internet [had] come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions as trusted third parties to process electronic payments,” and this nurtured dependence would ultimately lead to a fiscal downturn. With a P2P currency network that kept records of every transaction, banks were no longer needed and the era of decentralized currency was on the rise. 

For a time, everyone wanted a piece of the cryptocurrency market, but that has all been reduced to whispers and murmurs. However, according to a recent survey, interest in bitcoin and cryptocurrencies may be on the rise once more, namely because millennials and younger generations don’t trust those dastardly traditional banking institutions. According to Forbes, 43% of millennial online traders “have more trust in crypto exchanges than the U.S. stock market, compared to 77% of Gen X respondents who have more trust in stock exchanges.” 

It would seem that millennials could actually get credit for contributing something of value to society other than complaining about presidents and student loans. 

“We’re seeing the beginning of a generational shift in trust from traditional stock exchanges to crypto exchanges. Younger investors’ experience with he stock market has seen a great deal of loss of trust, with the fall of Lehman Brothers because of irresponsible practices followed by the worst recession since the Great Depression…Trust further eroded when Americans saw how..banks get free money through quantitative easing while their cost living continues to rise…”

Guy Hirsch, U.S. managing director, eToro

The growing millennial mistrust of banking institutions could rescue bitcoin from its current crypto winter. It is interesting that we place such a large amount of trust in banks, storing thousands of dollars in their systems, and yet we have absolutely no idea what happens to our money when its “protected” in our accounts. The trust-based model of depending on banks to transact and safely store money is outdated and, if there’s anything that can be said about younger generations, it’s the idea that older technologies and systems can and should be replaced as soon as possible. 

According to CoinMarketCap, there are presently over 2,000 cryptocurrencies on the market but analysts say that a majority of these coins are virtually worthless. The initial coin offering explosion of 2017 catalyzed an industry replete with hot shot entrepreneurs ready to throw money at the first crypto they could get their hands on, without any idea as to if these coins functioned. 

“Almost every ICO was just an attempt to raise money but there was no use for the underlying token…The vast majority of what’s our there will be eliminated…”

Barry Silbert, CEO of Digital Currency Group 

Only time will tell as to whether the age of cryptocurrencies will rise once more, but if we are depending on millennial to come to the rescue, historically their collective followthrough is less than noteworthy. 

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