U.S. Air Force ready to help the flying taxi industry

U.S. Air Force offers to help test flying cars

The USAF has offered to assist the flying car and flying taxi makers test and certify their crafts in order to accelerate growth of the new category, for civilian and military use. The move is reported to be the result of the small drone business, vitally important to the U.S. military, having migrated to China, making it difficult for the U.S. military to find domestic drone partners. Wired

dis-rup-shun: The USAF’s dilemma is a new theme that will repeat many times: how to keep at least some core of new technologies from rapidly migrating to markets, such as China, that can produce faster, better and cheaper. With the majority of consumer electronics already being produced outside of the U.S., designating selected technologies to remain on-shore is an unlikely outcome. The Air Force’s move will likely create important military-emerging company partnerships earlier that may, if military funds follow, become long-term.

Sparta Science and the NFL use data to predict injuries

Sparta, a company founded by MD Phil Wagner, uses workout and movement data from NFL players, to create a player risk profile. By compiling thousands of data points from video scans of players, the technology determines points of stress in a player’s movements and predicts injuries that are likely to occur. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The idea of science predicting when we will get injured, sick or die is creepy, but with millions of dollars being invested in pro athletes, especially NFL and NBA players, it only makes sense. Consider the possibility, however, that to purchase a life insurance policy or even health insurance, we will report to a clinic that will run a series of tests and, consequently, assign us to a risk category, to which our insurance premiums will be set.

Internet Archive stores 20,000 VHS recordings

Did you know there is an organization which preserves historical media for posterity? The Internet Archive is a non-profit online library of media of our yesteryear. It is well known for its Wayback Machine, which is a tool that can be used to locate millions of web pages that have long disappeared from the world wide web. The Internet Archive has now stored the contents of over 20,000 VHS recordings, preserving a great deal of 90s videos, commercials and TV shows. Check out the VHS Vault for a black hole of campy entertainment. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: The ability to study history firsthand is invaluable, and thanks to the Internet Archive, future historians can do just that. The downside, of course, is that governments that might wish to control resources such as the Internet Archive can, literally, re-write history. Let’s hope that these resources remain independent, redundant and well preserved.

Unions call for investigation of Amazon for anti-competitive trade practices

Big Tech, facing increasing pressure from Congress, can now add unions to its list of detractors. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Communications Workers of America, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and the Service Employees International Union have petitioned the FTC to look into Amazon’s “immense and growing influence.” The unions call on the FTC to consider Amazon’s “exclusionary conduct to the detriment of workers, consumers, merchants, and competition itself.” Amazon’s reply: the company has created over 500,000 jobs and represents less than 4% of total retail. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: It’s a slippery slope that giant, fast growing corporations walk, and history shows that giants are eventually toppled by regulators. The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 toppled Standard Oil, and President Roosevelt sued 45 additional companies. Not quite a hundred years later Judge Green ordered the restructuring of AT&T. Amazon is, no doubt, reshaping our economy, but can it do so without being seen as a menace? Just this weekend on television, commercials for Amazon’s Pill Pack pharmacy were aired. Amazon’s push into healthcare may provide much needed disruption, but may also draw the ire of a new set of industry regulators.


You are tracked

A glimpse into location tracking

A rather disturbing article from the New York Times, using info leaked by an anonymous employee of a data tracking firm (yes, there are firms that specialize in this), reveals that every move by people with smartphones is data made available to tracking firms. Every stop in the liquor store, the green cross, the gas station, church or cabaret is tracked. See some stunning graphical maps of people’s movements online in the article.

dis-rup-shun: It’s the season to be reminded that you are loved, but in this case, you are tracked — every move and every stop. For most people, why worry? For those people with secrets… be worried. For those people running for public office… you’re screwed. Is this reversible without tossing your smartphone in the nearest dumpster? What’s done is done, but data privacy and data security and a dashboard for consumers to turn off or on preferences is critical and should be an FCC mandate. As long as we are enjoying maps, Yelp, weather and just about every other great location -based app, we are being tracked. This is a situation that will not be ignored much longer as some high profile people will soon be embarrassed by some place they visited and regret.

Don’t (FedEx) poke the beast (Amazon)

FedEx stated that its bumpy last quarter is partially attributable to Amazon’s delivery services, but that its new seven day a week delivery services will help it outpace Amazon in 2021. Earlier, FedEx denied that Amazon would have a material impact on its business. Now the company is calling Amazon a competitor with impact. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: I recall Blockbuster’s CEO Antioco saying Netflix was not a material threat, and Blackberry dismissed the iPhone as not a business phone. The shipping wars have started in earnest, and FedEx’s addition of a seventh work day is one of the biggest changes in FedEx’s business in many years. The consumer and small business may benefit from lower prices, if pricing becomes a part of the war. Right now consumers are enjoying the benefits of Sunday deliveries. How does the U.S. Post Office fare in all of this?

A bold look at life in 2030

CNET has been reviewing the decade now ending in a series of looks over the shoulder. In a look at what life may look like in 2030, here are some headlines:

  • Flying and self driving cars will be available — the technologies exist today, but testing and legislation stand in the way. Will these obstacles and business models be smoothed out in 10 years?
  • Always connected means that we are always seeing or hearing more than meets the eye and ear — augmented reality contact lenses, glasses, and speakers, always connected to the cloud, will be feeding us contextual information about what we are doing.
  • Life in the cloud — all of our writings, texts, listening and watching to online conversations, and web searching, to name a few connected things, will live indefinitely in the cloud. We may die, but everything we did will not.
  • Genetic engineering will modify our species — DNA and gene editing, already in experimentation mode, will be performed when deemed ethical (by whom?).

dis-rup-shun: All of these concepts are well underway today, and looking at the amazing technological, business and cultural transformations that have occurred in the past decade, these visions are reasonable. Venture money is already chasing these opportunities. Now education, training and legislation needs to follow, and follow fast.