Current Affairs

The robots are coming, and they’re bringing pizza.

New York (CNN) – This week, Domino’s is rolling out a robot car delivery service to select customers in Houston. For those who opt in, their pies will arrive in a fully autonomous vehicle made by Nuro.
Here’s how it works: Customers in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston can choose robot delivery and receive texts with updates on the car’s location and a numerical code that can be used to retrieve the order. Once the car arrives, the customer enters the number on the bot’s touchscreen, and the car doors open up to serve the food.
Nuro’s robot car was the first completely autonomous, human-free on-road delivery vehicle to receive regulatory approval from the US Department of Transportation last year, Domino’s said.
This isn’t Domino’s first foray into the world of autonomous deliveries. In 2017, the Michigan-based company used a self-driving Ford Fusion hybrid to deliver pizzas to randomly chosen customers in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And in 2013, Domino’s tested out pizza delivery via drone in the United Kingdom.
While these experiments are useful to get the ball rolling when it comes to innovation and building buzz for the brand, consumers shouldn’t expect a seismic shift in the way food is delivered. For now, at least.
“There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space,” Dennis Maloney, Domino’s senior vice president and chief innovation officer, said of the new initiative. “This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations.”
Domino’s isn’t the first pizza chain to play around with this technology. In 2018, Pizza Hut announced that it was working with Toyota to release a fully autonomous delivery vehicle.
But self-driving vehicles are far from mainstream. For years, self-driving car companies operated under the belief that their technology and current road infrastructure would be enough. But self-driving has proved harder to get off the ground than expected. Companies have missed deadlines for deployments, and the industry has consolidated, with even a company as big as Uber selling its self-driving vehicle program.

 

Should Facebook have the power to ban a president? Should Amazon have the power to ban the sale of a controversial book? Should Twitter have the power to permanently bar a user over a single tweet? And if not, what should the government be doing about it? — is both fascinating and incredibly important.

I don’t think there is a group left in America who is happy about the power that companies like Facebook and Twitter and Google have arrogated to themselves. According to a recent poll from Vox and Data for Progress, 59% of Democrats and 70% of Republicans think Big Tech’s economic power is a problem. It’s hard to think of another issue with that kind of bipartisan consensus.

The nature of your anger, of course, depends on where you sit. (Twitter’s decision to ban Trump in January found 87% approval from Democrats and a mere 28% of Republicans in the same poll.) But the point is that this subject touches everyone.

So why is so much of the writing about tech so confusing? One of the reasons it confuses, I think, is that the loudest “progressive” and “conservative” arguments are the opposite of what you’d imagine.

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Live Post-Show Webinar

Right after the show at 10:05am pacific time, Michael’s guest Plurilock CEO Ian Paterson will host a live webinar and share an insider’s view of how our institutions, our companies, and our own data are at risk. Ian will also offer his perspective on local and global demands for cybersecurity services. Most importantly, he will identify the key drivers in this important sector as investors consider portfolio allocations.

Following the presentation, Ian will engage in live Q&A and update investors on Plurilock’s recent US expansion. CLICK HERE to register

Neighbourhood Investing – Horseshoe Bay

Rising up from the north facing marina, ferry terminal and commercial district in the heart of the bay, the community of Horseshoe Bay spreads south and west to encompass the entire peninsula, including the Gleneagles golf course, community centre and elementary school. For such a relatively small community by area it offers amazingly diverse homes, views and housing options. All of which are connected by a walkable and rideable network of trails.

The Coast Salish peoples inhabited this important area since before recorded history. Early nineteenth century logging operations were then followed by the passenger rail line from Deep Cove. This led to a burgeoning village in the 1920s and 1930s with cottages, accommodations, commerce and recreation oriented towards summer visitors. By the 1950s Horseshoe Bay became the site of the new ferry terminal and a stop on the new Upper Levels highway.

In addition to the high end waterfront homes, the community has a wide range of single family homes and prices, which tend to be priced below comparable properties elsewhere in West Vancouver. A substantial % of homes are owned for rental purposes and cash-flow positive opportunities are available. A brand-new waterfront condo and townhouse development, adjacent to the Libby Lodge Senior Home and the marina, has added some much needed multi-family stock.

Due to it’s geography and development history Horseshoe Bay is the ultimate in “village” style living, while still enjoying all the benefits of being in the city.

For more information on current listings and potential opportunities check out my website.

Giant Next-Gen Container Ships Will Make Ever Given Look Like Toy

 

If you think the ultimate reason the Suez Canal got blocked last week is because container ships are getting too big, get ready for the future. The next few generations of cargo vessels are going to make the Ever Given look like a bath toy.

 

Big enough to carry 20,124 twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs — the standard measure for cargo, representing a single shipping container — the Ever Given was one of the world’s largest such vessels when it was launched in 2018. The first container ship to break the 20,000 TEU mark had been at sea for less than a year. One famed 1999 study, written at a time when the largest boats carried less than 8,000 TEUs, argued it would prove impossible to build craft bigger than 18,000 TEUs.

 

The Ever Given, finally floating on its way again, is now distinctly in the second class of mega freighters. There are nearly 100 ships carrying more than 20,000 TEUs on the seas or under construction, and the bigger vessels being assembled in Chinese and South Korean shipyards are mostly around the 24,000 TEU mark. A quarter of the capacity moved by the world’s largest container line, AP Moller-Maersk A/S, is on boats above the 17,500 TEU mark.

 

That’s unlikely to be the end of it. Chinese shipyard Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding Group Co. has already registered designs for a 25,000 TEU vessel, and it has become relatively commonplace to predict that 30,000 TEU monsters will be plowing the oceans before the decade is out.

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Apple letting users opt out of tracking for targeted ads

 

Apple is shaking up the $400B digital ad market with a new privacy policy.

Don’t let Apple’s squeaky-clean packaging fool you: The company isn’t afraid to mix it up.

With 1B+ installed iPhones, Apple is the gateway to the mobile world’s most valuable customers.

And the $2T tech giant is about to roll out a new user-tracking policy that could cost Google and Facebook ~$25B in ad revenue.

What is changing?

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Apple is updating its iPhone software and letting users decide if they want to be tracked for targeted ads.

The current default allows such tracking. But in weeks to come, there will be a pop-up that requires an opt-in to be tracked.

The expectation is for many users to opt-out, which will severely disrupt the $400B digital advertising industry…one that depends heavily on data tracking.

How are companies coping?

The WSJ breaks down how various industry players are preparing for the change:

  • Facebook initially protested the change but recently stated that it could be stronger in the long run as it improves its in-app retail options (separately, FB will have its own phone pop-ups explaining the benefits of user tracking for targeted ads).
  • Google will comply with Apple’s changes but warns that metrics looking at how ads drive app usage and sales will be less useful (it does plan to create new performance-tracking tools not dependent on individual user data).
  • Big Chinese tech firms (Tencent, ByteDance) tested a workaround tracking method that Apple says it would reject from its app store.

Smaller apps may adapt by switching from free to paid.

Meanwhile, the WSJ says the tracking changes could really hurt gaming apps, which depends on targeting to find big-spending users.

Apple’s privacy angle is a winning hand…

… with consumers. However, other tech players in the ecosystem see it as Apple flexing its monopolistic might.

These changes come as Epic Games and Facebook wage corporate war against Apple’s ironclad control of the Apple App Store.

Further, a number of US states have (so far unsuccessfully) introduced legislation to change the App Store policies around installations and revenue take.

Right now, Apple’s beautiful aesthetic won’t stop people from saying it has dirty tactics.