80% of VC money goes to just 3 states

A whopping 80 percent of all venture capital investment goes to just three states. That has to change. – Recode

VCs discriminate against women: Just 2.19% of total VC money went to female-founded startups in 2016.

VCs discrimate against anyone over age 30 and especially over age 40

Meanwhile, Facebook spies on everyone and uses that data to propagandize us with messaging designed to control our minds.

The tech industry is looking pretty damned awful right now.

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High tech lobbyist thinks US tech needs more government subsidies

“Other nations have responded with smart, well-funded innovation policies like better R&D tax incentives, more government funding for research, more funding for technology commercialization initiatives.”

Source: The U.S. Drops Out of the Top 10 in Innovation Ranking – Bloomberg

Basically, the bastions of free market capitalism want taxpayer funded subsidies like everyone else.

What if Blockchain is not that useful?

There are downsides to blockchain technologies and processes (blockchain algorithms power Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies):

Each purported use case  —  from payments to legal documents, from escrow to voting systems — amounts to a set of contortions to add a distributed, encrypted, anonymous ledger where none was needed. What if there isn’t actually any use for a distributed ledger at all? What if, 10 years after it was invented, the reason nobody has adopted a distributed ledger at scale is because nobody wants it?

Source: Ten years in, nobody has come up with a use for blockchain

I suspect there are good uses for blockchain, however, the point is well taken. In the 1980s, I worked at a company that built a spreadsheet product that was so simplified that people who did not know algebra could use it. This seemed like a great break through. What was the problem? People who did not know basic algebra concepts did not have problems in life requiring a spreadsheet!

In other words, the technology was great but completely missed the target audience.

The linked article identifies many disconnects between proposed blockchain use cases – and the real world. A very interesting read.

 

Union angry at Amazon’s new self service mini grocery store pilot test

The largest union representing grocery-store workers has come out strongly against Amazon.com’s launch of a store sans cashiers, a sign of how a recent generation of futuristic technology comes with a dose of angst for big parts of the workforce.

Source: Grocery-workers union lashes out against new Amazon store | The Seattle Times

When workers cost $20/hour ($15 minimum wage + $4 to $5 for benefits), while technology costs are falling, numerous businesses are moving from variable cost labor to fixed cost automation.

The feature photo I attached to this post is a photo of a self order kiosk I took inside a McDonald’s in St. George, Utah. Starbucks has a mobile app that let’s customers place their own order ahead of time. Another coffee shop I visit has, at times, flipped their order entry app (its just an iPod on a stand) around and let customers place their own orders and pay with a credit card, when they are short staffed.

The market (meaning the public) will determine if this is what people want or not.

 

5G Mobile networks built to support #IoT capacity, drive huge economic growth

Now the 5G, or fifth generation, wireless revolution is near, promising data speeds 50 to 100 times faster than 4G LTE networks. Sure it’ll improve smartphones, but that’s not the point. Analysts say 5G’s biggest impact will be to drive the proliferation of the Internet of Things — billions of connected devices.

The business case for 5G is all about IoT, an evolution, or maybe revolution, that will take the internet era into new territories.

Source: Why The Race To Wireless 5G? The Internet Of Things | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis – IBD

From a business perspective, #IoT applications will drive demand for 5G high capacity data networks, which in turn, drives demand for more antenna sites (smaller cells), fiber optic networking to link more, smaller cells, new RF chip devices (article mentions Qorvo, which is funny, since I am sitting in a building next to Qorvo as I write this:) ), more revenue to cellular service providers, and more data centers.

In this context, #IoT may drive a cycle of enormous investments and economic growth.

Retailers using automation to reduce labor costs

Source: Retailers looking to save on labor costs turn to automation

$15 per hour minimum wage, $4 to 5$ hour in benefits adds up while the costs of automation fall dramatically. The former is a variable cost while automation is mostly a one time fixed cost. Labor intensive service businesses have advanced beyond experiments with automation and are now rolling out various solutions. The “featured image” attached to this article is a pair of self order kiosks in a McDonald’s in St George, Utah (photo by me). Starbucks offers a mobile app that let’s patrons order products in advance for pickup when the customer enters the store. If widely adopted, this could reduce the labor needed to take orders. To the extent these steps free up labor that may then be applied to higher value services, this will be good for all. But in some situations, this may simply free up labor – reducing the number of jobs. Plus, some of the people whose jobs become automated may lack the ability to learn new higher-value skills.

Industrial automation will lead to autonomous/no workers factories

“You will see completely lights out factories for manufacturing,” said Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco Systems’ IoT and Collaboration Technology Group. “You’re going to see manufacturing technologies that are even easier to automate … that are really going to transform manufacturing.”

Source: 8 Internet Of Things And UC Technologies You’ll See In 10 Years – Page: 1 | CRN

This is also somewhat true for the service industry. A combination of automation and self service will reduce labor requirements. Long ago, the ATM machine did indeed reduce the need for bank tellers. Service service check outs at stores (grocery, hardware, department stores) has reduced staff needs. Some restaurants are using apps for self order/data entry by customers, and others are using a combination of self order kiosks and customer self service (Think of filling your own soft drink cup at a fast food restaurant.)

Minimum wage laws, the new requirement in some locales to pre-schedule workers two weeks in advance, and the expense of health insurance will cause a rush to replacing labor with automation. These changes were going to happen eventually but new costs associated with labor will accelerate this change.

To the extent this frees up labor to purse other, higher valued added functions, this can be a net positive with improved economic efficiency. However many will not be in a position to migrate upwards to provide higher value – this will cause disruption and hardship that will lead to government legislation that requires economic inefficiency.

A good example of the latter is Oregon’s law that prohibits individuals from pumping their own gas into their own car. Oregon is the only state in the U.S. that outlaws self service fueling of your own vehicle. This is a “make work” law – and consumers pay for it in the form of higher prices and longer waits for service and refueiling. Yet that is how government responds to this sort of problem. Next: A ban on using apps to self order at restaurants? Who knows.