This Week in Tech: The Case for Universal Basic Income Edition

The Chicken Little’s of the world like to get on their soapbox whenever any new technology comes out and flog it for their generation’s variety of Marxist wealth redistribution—in this case, Universal Basic Income.

The assembly line is going to put us all out of work (it did – for blacksmiths).  Computers are going to ruin everything and we’re all going to be out of work.  It hasn’t.  Now it’s artificial intelligence and automation is going to ruin everything and everyone from Zumba teachers to car manufacturers to McDonalds burger-flippers are going to be broke and living in the employment line. That latter is probably true.  Burger-flippers are on the way out.

Still technology has unintended consequences and sometimes these are fun.  Sometimes not so much.

Let’s have fun with this week’s roundup.

We now live in a world where Vegas Island metaverse is a thing

The metaverse is turning into a bit of a frothy mess, and we can’t be entirely sure yet if there’s any longtime value to be found there. That’s the long and short of it. This is the first and only metaverse entry in a long list of blockchain-centric companies, and while this is supposed to be a wider-base tech roundup, most of what’s going on in the markets has been blockchain oriented.

The company is Liquid Avatar Technologies (LQID.C), who through a subsidiary owned by their subsidiary, and together with Howard Lefkowitz, who led from $360,000 in annual sales to over $400 million over a ten year period, have launched Vegas Island. It touts itself as a premium destination in the Aftermath Islands Metaverse, which is an age-restricted virtual island that gives participants the freedom to buy virtual themed land, interact, game, and be entertained.

Virtual Vegas. Considering the fact that the actual Vegas is a weird hodge-podge of most other places in the world (they have a Sphinx, an Eiffel Tower, and a place where you can ride a Venetian gondola for where active military members and vets alike can ride with a military discount of $62!) then to have a replica of a place which itself is a replica of other places.  It’s all a bit too much postmodern for my tastes. But there’s probably folks out there who love the internal nihilism of it all.

Regardless, they’re calling scarcity as the reason for the price of this virtual real estate, which is hilarious. But it’s going for USD$100 for 1,000 square meters and ranging in price from $5,200 for a mega 100-plot parcel. Folks who are getting universal basic income won’t be able to afford a place in the metaverse, which is potentially curious, because what if all computer-related companies take their options virtual to cover for lower operational expenses?  Who knows?

Seriously, though. Virtual real estate in virtual Vegas, but you have to pay real money.  You can’t make this shit up (although technically, I guess they have).

Let’s not mince words: this has got to be one of the top five dumbest things I’ve ever heard of since Logan Paul sold a NFT picture of himself for $3,000.

Bit Digital touts their environment record before regulators lay the smackdown

The problem with centralization reared its ugly head today as New York-based cryptominer Bit Digital (BTBT.Q) reiterated its proactive environmental track record in an attempt to allay suspicion that crypto is evil and needs to be punished by regulations.

The company will produce a formal written testimony to the New York State Senate Standing Committees on Environmental Conservation, Energy and Telecommunications and Internet and Technology. They’ll also provide information to certain Members of Congress, including U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and colleagues.

“Our company has made it a point to take a leadership position regarding sustainable practices in the crypto mining industry,” said Bryan Bullett, Chief Executive Officer, Bit Digital. “It is at the core of what we do and who we are, because Bit Digital understands that to be successful, our operations must drive innovation and economic opportunity for all members of society—while doing so in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner.”

The problem of centralization is of course a reference to the fact that the United States now owns more than one third of Bitcoin’s hashchain, which gives the US government significant leverage over how it’s mine, which could include regulatory-related price fluctuations.

Bit Digital is probably a good company to have spearheading your ‘nothing to see here’ campaign, though.

Bit Digital’s commitment to sustainability is highlighted in three simple ways:

  • Utilizing clean energy in their operations
  • Signing on to the Crypto Climate Accord (CCA)
  • Joining and embracing the clean energy goals of the Bitcoin Mining Council (BMC)

Three excellent initiatives to show a regulation happy congress.

Neptune Digital Q1 financials don’t show Bitcoin dip

Neptune Digital Assets (NDA.V) dropped their finances earlier this week and they’re… not bad for a company this size.

  • $67 million in assets and no debt
  • $1,707,046 earned through bitcoin mining in three months
  • $193,308 in total expenses
  • 35 new Bitcoin
  • 160.530 Bitcoin rigs
  • 53 Petahash by Q1, 2022

Not bad for a company that by this time last year was still trying to figure out what direction it wanted to go in. Now it seems they’ve found it, and even as Bitcoin has taken a tumble in the past little while, NDA still seems to be climbing.

“Neptune had an amazing first quarter with a $12.6 million increase in assets on our balance sheet and $13 million in comprehensive income,” stated Cale Moodie, Neptune CEO. “We hope to see the general crypto space grow as we move forward into 2022 and our Bitcoin mining, staking, and DeFi earnings to increase accordingly as we grow those arms of the business. We anticipate another 53 petahash of mining capacity to come online in Q2 thus growing our Bitcoin earnings. We are staying true to our diversified model and will continue to manage our risk while maximizing our earnings across the board.”

Currencyworks sells more NFTs

Currencyworks’ (CWRK.C) Motoclub sold four NFT’s for $14,400 at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona earlier this week.

It’s probably something that an outsider will never understand. I didn’t get Pogs in the 90’s or Tamagotchi whenever the hell that thing came out, and I don’t get this. Baseball cards, hockey cards, they make sense to me. Their price will grow as rarity and age collide, but NFT are neither rare nor old. They’re novel and therefore floating around on their own froth with nothing to test their staying power.

Still, here’s what the Barrett-Jackson Houston Elite Collection went for:

  • 1979 Porsche 928 “Risky Business” Movie Car Lot No. 4001 sold for $5,700;
  • 1962 Chevrolet Corvette Custom Topless Roadster Lot No. 4002 sold for $2,500;
  • 2019 Ford GT Lightweight Lot No. 4003 sold for $3,200;
  • 1960 Maserati Tipo 61 “Birdcage” Re-creation Lot No. 4004 sold for $3,000.

I reiterate, it’s not the cars themselves, but a NFT signifying images encoded on a blockchain. You own the NFT, not the images. Must be nice to have that kind of money to throw away on frivolous bullshit.

Global Cannabis receives pot licence from Health Canada

Global Cannabis Applications (APP.C) received their Health Canada license for selling cannabis for medical purposes under the Cannabis Act. Normally this wouldn’t show up on a tech roundup, except that APP uses blockchain tech on a per batch basis to safely and reliably deliver medical cannabis treatments.

It’s called Efixii, and it’s licensed to cultivators using a software-as-a-service model, but is free to use for cannabis consumers. Here cannabis is sold through a licensed portal, which generates revenues. The efixii platfrom is interesting in that its IP creates a suitable moat for the company in that it’s a system that’s difficult to replicate, and therefore difficult to compete with APPs sales and datasets.

“We applied for our licence last year and have since worked with Health Canada to meet the strict conditions of such an incredible responsibility. In parallel, we’ve been working with some amazing microcultivators during the pandemic, and while challenging, it has helped us to better learn of the environmental concerns in the cannabis space. We believe consumers want to know about the environmental, social and governance policies that cultivators follow, and we listened, invested, and upgraded Efixii to allow our cultivators to tell their ESG story before the launch of our retail store,” according to Brad moore, Global Cannabis’s chief executive officer.

Wellfield Technologies adds their voice to Paytechs nonprofit

Wellfield Technologies (WFLD.V) joined Paytechs, a nonprofit association that acts as a voice for tech companies operating in Canada involved in the movement of money. The company has their eye on integration for communities involved in decentralized finance (DeFi) as an objective for 2022 as it launches solutions under both their Seamless and MoneyClip brands.

“As the regulatory landscape locally and globally continues to evolve, MoneyClip is looking for opportunities to be an active stakeholder in regulatory discussions and also to strengthen community relationships and leverage collaborative opportunities with talented contributors in the space. Paytechs of Canada has created a strong and growing ecosystem in Canada built on a mission and goals that strongly resonate with our own values. MoneyClip aims to provide consumers the best possible experience and we are grateful to be a member with Paytechs as we both seek to offer greater choice, improve critical infrastructure and broaden access to Canadians,” said Chanan Steinhart, co-founder and board member of Wellfield and CEO of Moneyclip.

Here’s Paytech’s blurb from their website about what their goals are:

“To drive continuous improvements in Canada’s payments ecosystem and achieve the best possible payment experience for Canadians. We believe this is accomplished by promoting solutions-oriented advocacy, invoking effective government regulations, and enabling enhanced industry competition.”

Considering that at the time of writing they’re up 12.7%, they’re clearly doing something right.

Admittedly, I’m curious about how cryptocurrency would fare under a universal basic income system. Maybe central bank digital currencies would thrive, but I can’t see anything else doing well.

Greenland Technologies aligns with Cyngn to automate forklift operations

Cyngn (CYN.Q) develops autonomous vehicle solutions for industrial fleets. Greenland Technologies Holdings (GTEC.Q) builds electric industrial vehicles and drivetrain system for material handling machinery and vehicles. They’re also probably one of the scariest entrants on this list for the Chicken Little types and their drastic call for universal basic income.

Today they announced a partnership whereby Cyngn will deliver its self-driving vehicle whatnots to Greenland forklifts to give them the ability to switch between fully automated, manual and remotely activated modes. Organizations that run Cyngn’s tech also get access to a breadth of analytics and software tools to generate the insights and optimizations they need to make sure they no longer have to hire people for $25 an hour to do a job that can now be completely automated.

“This partnership is another major development as we execute on our plans to bring the most innovative technology to our customers. Autonomous forklifts will not only make it easier for our customers to get work done and provide them with data that has never been available before, but the technology will also help them achieve their environmental sustainability goals by operating vehicles more efficiently,” said Raymond Wang, CEO of Greenland.

Yeah.  Back where I’m from one of the better, higher paying jobs is to be a certified counterbalance forklift driver.  In a place where a “good” wage growing up would be something like $16 an hour, forklift drivers could demand upwards to $30.  Back home, that’s buy-a-house money. That’s take care of your parents while raising a family money. Granted, that was in the 1990’s, so now it’s probably barely pay rent money.

It’s not hard to look at something like this and see it as a razour-blade slope straight to permanent serfdom, where you can’t even get a job as a burger-flipper anymore because we’ve hired the Crushinator from Futurama, and all she needs is some oil and a little romance to get her to work.

A case for universal basic income

The robots are coming to steal our jobs!

Let’s just hope this journalism thing works out, because if this tech takes off my safety net is toast.

MySize AI-based smart mirror gives shopping haters a break

If you hate shopping as much as I do you’re going to love this next one. If you work in retail and make your money by reaffirming shopper’s that everything in your store looks great on them, then you may want to get on the universal basic income bandwagon.

The FirstLook Smart Mirror is an interactive, mirror-like touch display that combines the properties of a mirror, a discerning second eye to tell you if you look good in this thing, and a contactless checkout.

Here’s what it offers:

  • 3D “Try-it-on” interactive avatar experience:  Life-like, personalized display of an item’s exact fit on each customer’s body.
  • Personalized and highly accurate size recommendations by MySizeID: Shoppers scan a barcode in-store and receive a size recommendation for the specific apparel item, via their MySizeID profile.
  • Third-party POS systems integration: Access and share data on inventory, sizing, and pricing.
  • Styling recommendations:  Provide upsell opportunities with “complete-the-look” styling and apparel personalized recommendations. All based on available inventory and shoppers’ preferences.
  • Contactless “select and collect” at the register feature:  Selected items are brought to specific POS locations within the store (SmartMirror kiosk, Checkout point, fitting room etc.), for a seamless, hassle-free checkout.

If you’ve ever followed your spouse into a department store and been left holding the bag while he or she tries on articles o

Universal basic income

Too on the nose?

f clothing, and then wanders out and snaps you out of your daydream to inquire what you think—that job has thankfully been taken over by robots. It’s maybe the one time automation did us a favour.

Now your spouse can punch in some quick data and his or her likeness will appear wearing said clothing at the desired size.

The company behind this is MySize (MYSZ.Q), and this smart mirror showed up with a generally positive recetion at the National Retail Federation 2022: Retail’s Big Show in January of this year in New York City.

“The MySizeID FirstLook Smart Mirror has the potential to revolutionize the fashion retail buying experience in the store. It is our first product solution addressing in-person retail shopping. The MySizeID AI-driven measurement and data algorithms drive the FirstLook Smart Mirror in helping increase sale conversions and reduce returns at the physical store retail environment. The retail price ranges between $8,000-$12,000 up front plus a $160 recurring monthly service fee (the price range is based on features, such as speakers, camera, frame and stand). Our sales team and partners are looking forward to demonstrating it for existing, new and prospective clients,” said Ronen Luzon, CEO of MySize.

Patriot One to provide patron screening for OIG

Here we run into one of the main issues regarding the confluence of surveillance, artificial intelligence, privacy and the need for Universal Basic Income.

Patriot One Technologies (PAT.T) MultiSensor Gateway screening solution was chosen by the U.S. Office of the Inspector General to protect employee entrances at their headquarters building in Washington D.C.

The screening solution will improve employee safety while giving employees more convenience by eliminating the need to empty their pockets or have their bags checked. That’s nice.  Actually.  No invasive touching.  They scan you and you pass and you go to do your thing.  If you’re carrying a weapon on your person, they pick you up.  It doesn’t seem like you’re giving up much in the way of privacy for security there.  If you look deeper, though, things a bit more touchy.

Patriot One was an Equity Guru client back in the days before they started pulling in big time government contracts, and it’s good to see they’ve done well for themselves. They make unobtrusive, artificial-intelligence-driven weapons and threat detection systems that enable arenas, casinos, schools, theatres and other businesses to provide safety without ruining your day with obtrusive pat-downs and other random selections.

These are the places where you want the high tech security surveillance tech with all the AI underpinnings.

“OIG completed successful evaluations of our technology in late 2021 and we look forward to working with them and Maven Security Technologies, partner of Smith & Sons LLC, who also worked closely on this project. OIG understands the importance of protecting its employees and the broader community and is a big believer in being ahead of the security technology curve. Using the most modern, innovative security technology allows them to protect employee entrances and deliver a more efficient, professional experience,” said Peter Evans, chief executive officer of Patriot One.

heir solution is able to detect weapons and other threats before they can cause harm.

—Joseph Morton

The post This Week in Tech: The Case for Universal Basic Income Edition appeared first on Equity.Guru.

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