Category Archives: Technology

Elon’s First Fraud Suit, by Eric Peters

Tesla’s undoing may ultimately be that Elon Musk is not a car guy. From Eric Peters at theburningplatform.com:

Elon Musk is being accused of fraud – but not over his cars.

Not yet.

This fraud suit alleges financial flim-flam. That Elon’s very public musings about taking Tesla off the stock market as a publicly traded company were meant to temporarily inflate the value of Tesla stock as a way to generate more Desperation Money (but not by selling cars or making an honest profit) to stave off the inevitable collapse.

The lawsuit – a class-action lawsuit filed in Federal court –  alleges that Musk’s Aug. 7 statements had the effect of “completely decimating” short sellers, people who bet against a rise in the value of  Tesla’s stock.

The SEC is looking into things.

Other things being looked into include sketchy practices to meet Elon’s publicly promised production numbers for the Model 3, the “affordable” Tesla Elon has been touting but failing to deliver for years. Not yet being looked into officially – but arguably ought to be – are Musk’s promises to the thousands of people who put down deposits on the “affordable” Model 3 – the one with the promised $35,000 MSRP – which isn’t being produced.

The Model 3 which is being produced is the much-less-affordable $40,000 model – which has a larger, more powerful battery and more range than the $35k model. But the $5,000 difference makes all the difference to people who cannot afford a $40,000 car – electric or not.

Especially now that the federal tax incentives Elon relied upon to get people to buy his cars are on the verge of going away. This will mean that buying a $40,000 Tesla means paying the full $40,000 – not $40,000 minus whatever the federal government kicks back to the buyer.

But Elon’s biggest sin may not be fraud.

It is incompetence seasoned with a puckish, childish arrogance.

Musk is not a car guy and has no experience in the car business – outside Tesla. Yet he presumed he could teach the car industry a great lesson – with the help of Uncle.

He would show them.

But unlike car guys who do know the car business, Elon made a number of critical mistakes – which have nothing to do with his cars being electric. That just added salt to the wound.

The biggest mistake he made is focusing on sedans at precisely the moment when the market isn’t just moving away from them – it is virtually abandoning them in favor of crossover SUVs. These are now outselling cars and particularly sedans.

To continue reading: Elon’s First Fraud Suit

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Big Tech Shows “Net Neutrality” Battle Was About Power, Not an “Open Internet”, by Tho Bishop

Net neutrality was going to be the perfect set up for big tech to engage in regulatory capture. From Tho Bishop at mises.org:

The de-platforming of Alex Jones and InfoWars is a subject that has a number of layers to it, including the responsibilities social media companies have to free speech — particularly in a world where the lines between Big Tech and Big Government are increasingly blurred. While I’ll leave others to debate those particular subjects, these developments — and reactions to it — do help provide clarity to another heated tech-related debate: the hypocrisy of “net neutrality” advocates.

After all, there is a ton of overlap between those who advocated Title II regulation of the internet and those celebrating the deplatforming of Alex Jones. This is particularly true among the most powerful players in this debate, including legislators and leaders in the industry.

Consider, for example, the reaction from Big Tech to the FCC’s repeal Title II regulation last December.

Facebook’s Sherryl Sansberg published a statement saying: “An open internet is critical for new ideas and economic opportunity. … We’re ready to work with members of Congress and others to help make the internet free and open for everyone.”

Google encouraged online activists to “take action,” in order to “protect the free flow of information and help make sure the Internet is available to everyone, everywhere.”

Apple went so far as to say:

An open internet ensures that hundreds of millions of consumers get the experience they want, over the broadband connections they choose, to use the devices they love, which have become an integral part of their lives.

What consumers do with those tools is up to them — not Apple, and not broadband providers.

Fast-forward eight months later and now those that demanded ISPs treat all content equally are the very same platforms actively deciding what content is or is not permissible for consumption.

This is hardly surprising to anyone who has paid attention to the debate. Google and Apple’s lip service to the importance of protecting tech startups has never jived well with their app stores serving as the greatest filters to what new products can be easily accessed by the consumer public. Tellingly, both have caved to government pressure whenever an app — no matter how popular — has frustrated legal authorities.

To continue reading: Big Tech Shows “Net Neutrality” Battle Was About Power, Not an “Open Internet”

The Evils of the Automatic, by Eric Peters

Automatic transmissions turn driving into a soporific. From Eric Peters at theburningplatform.com:

It’s easy to get suckered by the convenient. We’re all susceptible. It is human nature to take the path of least resistance.

This is the nature of the subtle evil that is the automatic transmission.

It has taken most of the effort out of driving. In particular, out of learning how to drive. Accordingly, most people never do learn. They know how to push the start button and pull a lever from Park to Drive, of course. But that is not what I mean

It has ruined the art of driving.

And it is an art.

Or, was.

Well, a skill at least.

Before the automatic came along in the ’40s, brought to us by GM through its Oldsmobile division, driving a car required more talent than being able to open and close a door, sit down – and push on two pedals.

There was a third pedal – the clutch pedal. When it was out, the engine was directly connected to the transmission, which was directly transmitting the engine’s power to the driven wheels via the driveshaft. If the driver did not push the clutch pedal in as the car rolled to a stop, the car would buck and finally, stall out – because the engine could not turn the pavement (or the Earth to which it was attached).

To resume forward motion, the driver had to gradually let out the clutch while simultaneously easing into the gas pedal – allowing just enough enough slippage to avoid (once again) stalling out the car. It took a bit of practice to master this delicate balance – to be able to do it smoothly. It was a right of passage, something almost every aspiring teenage driver had to learn.

Clutching was just the beginning. There was also shifting.

Before the advent of synchronizers in the transmission, one had to time one’s shifts just so – matching engine speed to road speed. It was necessary to choreograph this delicate ballet yourself. If you failed to do so, the result was a a hideous grinding of the gears and general embarrassment, especially if you were a man and had a woman along for the ride.

To continue reading: The Evils of the Automatic

Here’s Why 3D Printing Guns Are A Win For World Peace and a Potential Death Blow To Tyranny, by Matt Agorist

Home-printed 3D guns may well be the death of gun control. From Matt Agorist at activistpost.com:

As the debate continues about whether or not 3D-printed firearm plans should be banned, even the ostensible pro-2nd Amendment folks are worried that shooting rampages will occur as a result of these plans being published online. But the reality is far different.

For generations, advocates of private gun ownership have been fighting exhaustively through political channels to protect their right to keep and bear arms. Gun owners even have one of the strongest lobby groups in Washington, the highly disappointing NRA. Yet over the years, gun rights continue to diminish in America, despite the constant political campaigns by the NRA and politicians that claim to support gun rights.

However, in the past few years, one guy with a good idea has managed to do more to protect gun rights than the NRA has in decades of political involvement. Cody Wilson is the founder of “Defense Distributed” and the “Wikiweapon” project, which allows anyone with a 3D printer to create their own untraceable gun in the privacy of their own home.

While alarmists claim that 3D-printed guns will be the end of humanity, the fact is that these plans have been online on torrent and dark web sites for years and we’ve yet to see a single person killed with one.

What’s more, as the gruesome murder-suicide on a college campus in Walnut Creek, California illustrates is that people don’t even need these plans if they want to make their own untraceable gun. Scott Bertics built the gun he used to shoot himself and Clare Orton without anyone knowing and entirely through legal measures.

Psychopaths who want to cause harm to others will cause harm to others using any means necessary. Limiting the ability for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves will never change this.

Wilson makes no secret that the intention behind distributing CAD files to create homemade guns is to make gun control measures obsolete and bolster the Second Amendment, which is under continual assault from anti-gun activists.

As Wilson explains, these files could be used to empower oppressed people all over the world who’ve been disarmed and ruled by criminals and warlords.

We put a lot of world governments on notice, and I think that’s good in the history of the balance of power between sovereigns and subjects,” Wilson told the Brown Political Review.

To continue reading: Here’s Why 3D Printing Guns Are A Win For World Peace and a Potential Death Blow To Tyranny

Tesla stock soars on news they ‘only’ lost $717 million, by Simon Black

Tesla is like a reverse religion. Every time it fails the true believers believe even more. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in an alternate universe… it’s like the financial version of the ‘upside down’ from Stranger Things.

Case in point: last night the infamously loss-making electric car maker Tesla announced its quarterly earnings.

As usual, the numbers were gruesome. Tesla’s net loss was TWICE AS BAD as the previous quarter, a record NEGATIVE $717 million. That’s a LOT WORSE than analysts were expecting.

After adjusting for various capital investments, Tesla’s total cash burn for the quarter was MINUS $740 million… which is a bit better than what analysts were expecting. Congratulations.

Oh yeah, and Tesla cult leader CEO Elon Musk mustered an apology to all the analysts he insulted on the previous quarter’s earnings call (where he derided them for asking “boring” and “bonehead” questions).

And now the stock has soared 12%.

Is this really what capitalism has come to?

Companies are richly rewarded for posting record losses that are worse than anyone expected because the grown men who pilot them can refrain from publicly hurling childish insults at financial analysts while managing to ‘only’ burn $740 million of shareholder capital?

Give me a break.

In total, Tesla has burned through $5 billion of its investors’ cash.

And nearly half of the money it has left in the bank is in the form of customer deposits, which are often refundable. So that money’s not even safe.

Most likely Tesla will have to raise billions of dollars over the next few years just to stay afloat.

And yet, despite these losses, and despite the fact that their CEO is sidetracked making flamethrowers, limited-edition Tesla surfboards and promising to solve Flint, Michigan’s water crisis. . .

. . . and despite the fact that he seems more concerned with Twitter spats than running the business (the Wall Street Journal ranked Musk as the second-most active tech CEO on Twitter behind Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff, with 1,256 tweets this year through mid-July) . . .

. . . shareholders still granted their CEO the largest executive compensation package in the history of the world earlier this year (worth a potential $50 billion). . .

To continue reading: Tesla stock soars on news they ‘only’ lost $717 million

Doug Casey on Virtual Girlfriends

There’s nothing like true love with a humanoid. Sex and you don’t need to lie the next morning. From Doug Casey at caseyresearch.com:

Justin: Doug, I recently read an article about a U.S. company that’s offering a digital “girlfriend experience.”

3D Hologroup has created an app that allows you to download virtual girlfriends. And you can interact with these girls if you own an augmented reality device.

So, I visited the company’s website. I discovered that you can choose which model of girl you’d like, just like you would a pair of shoes.

It reminded me of the hologram girlfriend that Ryan Gosling’s character had in Blade Runner 2049, which came out last year.

What do you make of this? Are you surprised that you can now buy a digital girlfriend with just a few clicks of a mouse?

Doug: It’s a vision of things to come. I don’t think most people know that this is happening. But it’s an inevitable implication of Moore’s Law, the observation made in 1965 by Gordon Moore that computer power would double about every two years. But it’s not just computers; technology is advancing at that rate in a number of areas. Augmented reality is just one example. Artificial intelligence, robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech are also advancing extremely rapidly.

It seems to me that we’re likely to see the Singularity within the next generation, just as Ray Kurzweil predicted. Among many other strange things, we’ll have humanoids and androids that will be increasingly hard to distinguish from actual people.

You’ll also be able to have your own Mr. (or Miss) Data, the android from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Albeit a relatively low-functioning version. This will have immense societal implications on how society will function, and how people relate to each other.

Of course, that’s 20 or 25 years from now, and there will be many steps along the way. But one thing you won’t have to wait long for is artificial reality suits. You’ll be able to step into one and experience an alternate reality: sight, smell, touch, hearing, and even taste I suppose. It will be vastly more involving than watching a movie…

To continue reading: Doug Casey on Virtual Girlfriends

U.S. Tech Giants Are Too Big, Too Powerful and Now Are Running Into Serious Trouble, by Michael Krieger

Google and Facebook are running into backlash from their growth-at-all-costs policies and their maladroit political moves. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

Within Google, knowledge about Dragonfly has been restricted to just a few hundred members of the internet giant’s 88,000-strong workforce, said a source with knowledge of the project. The source spoke to The Intercept on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to contact the media. The source said that they had moral and ethical concerns about Google’s role in the censorship, which is being planned by a handful of top executives and managers at the company with no public scrutiny.

“I’m against large companies and governments collaborating in the oppression of their people, and feel like transparency around what’s being done is in the public interest,” the source said, adding that they feared “what is done in China will become a template for many other nations.”

From The Intercept article: Google Plans to Launch Censored Search Engine in China, Leaked Documents Reveal

Today’s post will explain why I think the U.S. tech giants are in the early stages of destroying themselves. It will focus on two of the biggest names in the space, Facebook and Google. Both face serious issues that are only now truly coming to a head and rooted in two primary factors, size and politics.

Facebook is further along in the process of being in serious trouble, so let’s start there. The social media company currently has 2.2 billion active users worldwide, which amounts to well over half of all human beings online at the moment (estimated at 3-4 billion). In other words, the company already has a tremendous share of global potential users. Since everybody already knows what Facebook is, you have to assume those who aren’t using it (like me), aren’t using it for a reason. Thus, you have to ask whether or not meaningful growth in active users is remotely realistic for Facebook. I would argue not.

There are many reasons to bet against Facebook significantly growing active users in the years ahead, but the main hurdle seems to be keeping the users it already has actively engaged. Specifically, I think there are two types of users Facebook risks losing going forward. These people might not “delete Facebook” per se, but their engagement with the platform may drop meaningfully.

To continue reading: U.S. Tech Giants Are Too Big, Too Powerful and Now Are Running Into Serious Trouble