Elon Musk and Neuralink Brain Chips–Will We Become Cyborgs For Real?–Futurum Tech Podcast
On this edition of the Futurum Tech Podcast, FTP, we will be talking about Elon Musk’s Neuralink brain chips, and is this right for society? Our Fast Five dives into Microsoft, Intel, Apple, the DOD’s JEDI contract, and QC, Qualcomm. And in the end, we will talk about Capital One in Tech Bites, and we will circle back on this and so much more on this edition of Futurum Tech Podcast.
Our Main Dive
Elon Must invested $100M in an organization called Neuralink. Neuralink is building tiny devices that are potentially going to be implanted in our brain. It’s a little chip with thousands of wires measuring 1/10th the width of a human hair. Musk is outwardly outspoken about the fact that the size is important because we aren’t going to want large chips implanted in our brains, only small chips. Funny or scary? What are the potential impacts to healthcare, humanity and ethics?
Our Fast Five
We dig into this week’s interesting and noteworthy news:
- Intel finally released details about its 10th generation Ice Lake CPU’s, paving the way for the next wave of laptops to hit the shelves this year or next
- The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) plans on awarding their upcoming $10 billion Cloud services contract later this summer. Who will win?
- Qualcomm released their latest earnings report
- Microsoft Teams Collaboration Platform
- Apple wisely makes quick U-turn on Siri Grading Program
The Capital One breach is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for the brand, and just another day of exposure and personal risk for consumers. There’s a reason that every major tech brand is focused on cybersecurity: Dell, IBM, Cisco, SAP, and others understand fully that business can’t be business as usual if customers are vulnerable to hacks. Cybersecurity now needs to move up the food chain so that it’s a top concern from senior management and the boardroom on down.
Crystal Ball: Future-um Predictions and Guesses
When will brain implant chips be commercially available? We are guessing anywhere from 2022-2028.
Olivier Blanchard: Welcome to this week’s edition of FTP, the Futurum Tech Podcast. I’m Olivier Blanchard, Senior Analyst with Futurum Research. And joining me today are Shelly Kramer and Daniel Newman, and I will dispense with a how are you guys doing today. We’ll take care of that in a moment. We’re going to start today’s show with a discussion about brain implants. Then we’ll share some of our favorite tech news stories of the week in our Fast Five segment followed by Tech Bites in which we highlight one of the biggest tech related fails of the week. And we will end the show as always with our crystal ball. But before we begin, it goes without saying that this show is intended for informational purposes only and no advice or insights provided here today should be taken as investment advice.
All right. With that out of the way, Daniel, Shelly, how are you doing today?
Daniel Newman: I’m doing great. I’m excited to be back. I’ve been gone a few weeks. I doubt anybody really missed me because we’ve had Shelly joining us for a few weeks. We had Fred. We had Ron. But I am glad to be back in the fold because you know if we’re recording, it’s a Friday, and Fridays make me happy.
Olivier Blanchard: How about you, Shelly, everything good?
Shelly Kramer: Fridays make me happy too. Although, I do feel like it’s been kind of a pants on fire Friday, so I’m looking to pants being a little bit less on fire.
Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, well, it’s already August, and July only lasted about seven days, so that’s probably why.
Shelly Kramer: I know. It’s crazy, crazy.
Olivier Blanchard: All right. Cool. So our main topic today is actually brain implants. We are going full futurism this week even though I’m not a huge fan of futurists, but we’re going to go there a little bit because the future is here, and science fiction is turning into science fact as always in part because of Elon Musk. And so Daniel, I’m actually going to hand this off to you because I think you’ve already written about this, and I’d love for you to introduce this topic this week and tell us what we can expect when it comes to human beings actually getting technology brain implants. Are we becoming cyborgs for real this time?
Daniel Newman: Woo-woo. You know what? I think the futurist on this particular podcast, you being one of them, the irony of you not liking futurists… So it’s funny. We wrote a book called Futureproof, and more appropriately to this topic, the Human/Machine book, which is really what we’re talking about here, humans and machines literally becoming one, singularity, the implant of a tiny little chip inside of our brain.
Now, there’s a little bit of backdrop. Musk is the mouthpiece, but this isn’t Musk’s company. Musk is a $100 million investor in an organization called Neuralink, and Neuralink basically is building tiny devices that are going to be potentially implanted in our brain. It’s a little chip with thousands of wires measuring in size, you’re talking nanotechnology, 1/10th the width of a human hair. Musk is really outwardly outspoken about the fact that the size is important because we’re not going to want large chips implanted in our brains, only small chips according to Musk, which I find funny because I’m not sure we want chips in our brains at all.
Now having said that, there’s kind of the two sides to this story. There is the pro humanity healthcare application, which implants have become somewhat common, familiar, and accepted. And then there’s the less acceptable utilizations and maybe even another question around the ethics of a private corporation having access to manipulate and stimulate our brains. So starting with that, the technology’s based on Bluetooth. So you’ll guess the chip itself would need to be in range of a physical device outside of our body. Most likely our mobile devices will be what would serve in that capacity. So the direct access to our brain wouldn’t, from the outside, but it would come through that near-field device.
The healthcare applications are actually quite promising, and some of the areas that he focused on was things like enabling telepathy, repairing motor function for people that have had brain trauma, maybe a stroke, someone that’s lost vision, or people born with blindness. So in my mind, those kinds of things could be positive. If you were trying to live life following a stroke, and there was an implant type technology that could help you repair your motor function, I think that could be quite promising, and I think a lot of people would be excited about that.
The challenge is, I don’t believe Musk is looking at this as a, let’s just use it as a healthcare advancement. I think they’re looking at it as all of the potential opportunities to get closer to the data source. Olivier, you shared an article this week about a technology that’s now allowing brainwaves to be turned into text. So think about that. Think about the accessibility into the brain that could actually start to extract thought details and information that we don’t necessarily want the external world to know. I certainly don’t know about you, Olivier and Shelly, but there’s a reason there are some things that are in my mind that I’m thinking about and some things that are in my mind that I’m talking about, and I don’t necessarily want all those things to be interchangeable.
But overall, I think some of the questions that are really coming to bear here is one, how valid is this for those healthcare purposes? Two, what are some of the other ways this could be utilized, such as stimulating the brain, triggering things like either improving depression, changing behavior? It could be, like I said, from a healthcare, could just be generally speaking to target advertising at somebody or creating interest in something. What is the safety of this? Who regulates it? So it brings as many questions to me as it does answers.
So in my mind, it’s really interesting, but I would love to get your takes. I’m sure, obviously Olivier having written Human/Machine, this was something that we spent a lot of time on. Shelly, I know you follow all this stuff closely. So what comes to mind for you guys when you hear about this? Because for me, I love the future, but I’m not sure I’m ready to have an implant put into my brain.
Olivier Blanchard: I want to hear what Shelly has to say first.
Shelly Kramer: I’m not even sure I like Alexa sitting in my kitchen, and I realize that the reality of our lives as early adopters in the tech space is that we, all three of us, have gone all-in all the way from a very, very early time. But it’s also one of those things that kind of, the more you know, the more it scares the hell out of you. And it’s also a runaway train that’s incredibly difficult to stop.
We’ve seen this similar kind of ethical dilemma when… I know you both have read about companies implanting microchips in employees for instance. So, hey, it’s convenient. You don’t need to carry your keycard anymore or anything like that. You can just wave your hand in front of a scanner. And I remember reading about this in the last couple of years and employees interviewed saying, “Oh, they love it. It was the greatest thing ever.” There’s no way anybody’s planting a chip in my hand. So I think that pretty much tells you how I feel about a chip in my brain.
Although, if I had a terrible disease, if I had Lou Gehrig’s disease or if I had Parkinson’s or if I had something that a brain implant could help mitigate my symptoms and help me live a better longer life, I’m down.
Daniel Newman: So I just want to say that’s what I feel almost to the T. There are certain applications, it’s like, “Boom, this makes so much sense.” I use stroke as an example, where you lose motor function or Alzheimer’s. And then you have the gray areas like depression, right, where we’re so over-medicated right now, but there isn’t a very easy way to approach it that’s not medicine. Is there something else here that this could really help people that are battling with depression? But then again, do we want to… For the number of people who are diagnosed that way, that’s a heck of a lot of implants.
Olivier Blanchard: So I’m with you guys on this. I mean, to me, this is a miraculous use of technology for people with disabilities, with challenges, who struggle to do simple things from typing an email. My mom had a stroke, think going on two years ago now, and she’s totally fine, and you would never know. But she has trouble now, I guess some part of her brain that allowed her to type and to actually write as well. She has a hard time writing checks now for some reason. That part of her brain was affected. And so something like this that could help her type by just thinking about words or selecting them faster by looking at a keyboard or a screen as opposed to actually using her fingers would be super useful.
I know for myself, God forbid if something ever happens, writing is my life aside from cycling. And so if somebody could give me back the ability to or give me a backup in case I lose some of my ability to write, and now, I have a technology that can allow me to continue writing, even though without it I wouldn’t be able to, that to me, is fantastic. However, and I’m not going to kind of dig too deep into the negative and kind of scary dystopian aspects of this that deal with hacking and abuse from kind of the privacy issues of if you’re thinking, if you’re going from thought to text, and your device is connected to other devices, then basically people can essentially read your thoughts through this device. And so that’s the kind of thing that people might be worried about. And that would be pretty concerning.
But for other uses, I’m thinking that there’s going to be a point where this technology evolves enough that it becomes commercially viable for other uses. And I’m thinking about brain implants and chips like this that allow you to interact with other devices as kind of the next interface, right? So we’re going from keyboards to screens. We’re going from screens to gestures and AI and face recognition and eye tracking and voice. We have all these new kind of organic interfaces that blend into our ability to control our environments, to have smart environments that work with AI. And I can’t help but think that something that can take thoughts and intents directly out of your brain to allow devices to perform functions like turning on your lights, changing the channel on your TV, fast-forwarding through a movie, if you can do this with a thought as opposed to doing it with your voice, that’s going to be really interesting and valuable to people.
And I think that if you extend the timeline of this type of technology far enough forward, 10, 15, 20 years forward, whether it actually is an implant or something that you wear on your head, something that’s removable, is kind of, that’s a form factor issue, but the fact is that I think that we’re approaching a point where the ultimate interface will be thought commands. And so are we really ready for a world where people choose to become technological telepaths and a variety of things can be controlled silently without anybody’s knowledge that could have an impact on your surroundings and on people around you?
Shelly Kramer: It’s exciting and creepy at the same time.
Daniel Newman: I think you hit that on the head. I know we got to wrap this section up. One of the last words has to come down to privacy and data integrity here because the interface is going to be so important. Because the way the chip works, at least this particular iteration with it being Bluetooth, is there’s a high interdependence to the device that’s going to be worn outside the body that is going to be able to communicate with the Bluetooth device that would be implanted. So it’s not like some satellites shooting beams of marketing and advertising into our brains. It’s going to come through a local device that’s going to then be able to potentially interpret data, capture our thoughts, translate languages, things like that that could end up happening, which is both neat and cool. But how do we protect that? Who gets to control that?
And I know we can’t probably cover that right now and today, but this is a private venture, Neuralink, they may or may not have our best interests in stakes. I mean, you could say that about government as well, but the long and short is, how this gets regulated is going to be the big difference, I think, in my mind because we’re seeing even with basic levels of data on social media and such that there’s no control. They can’t control how our data gets used. They can’t control what listens to us. How in the world are they going to control what ends up being communicated between that device on us and the chip that’s been implanted in our brain?
Olivier Blanchard: And so I think that the data privacy discussions that we’ve had on this show, and that we will continue to have for the foreseeable future, play directly into this. I mean, the decisions we make about who owns data and how to opt-in and opt-out and essentially protect consumers when it comes to how their data is collected and used 100% applies to this. And so the decisions we make in the next few years regarding regulations, regarding laws, regarding consumer privacy bills of rights, are going to play into this. And we have to get that part right before this technology can move into the commercial space as opposed to mostly the healthcare space.
And with that, yes, we have run out of time for our main topic, but we’ll definitely be revisiting this because this is not going away. Now that this can has been open, the worms will never stop coming out. Okay, so now we are moving into our Fast Five section. So briefly, Shelly, I will give you the opening Fast Five. In two, two and a half minutes or less, what is the first tech story that caught your eye this week other than our main topic?
Shelly Kramer: I kind of started taking a look at what Microsoft teams was doing and how they reported the growth that they’ve had in that collaboration platform. And the headlines really were all about Microsoft beating Slack, and while I thought that was interesting, what I thought was the most interesting was really some of what Microsoft is doing with its Teams product. And I know that Microsoft is not alone on this because we’ve talked about and written about Cisco and Cognitive Collaboration and cool things that they are doing.
But what I think is most interesting is really taking these companies that are taking their collaboration software, their collaboration platforms, beyond the desk. So all of us, generally speaking, sit behind a desk all day, or we have a phone in our hand all day, but there’s a whole world of people, there’s billions of people out there who aren’t sitting behind a desk and who are on the front lines in the hospitality industry or in all kinds of industries, in the field, in engineering fields, or things like that. So I think it’s cool when we’re starting to look at collaboration platforms as not solely limited to people who are sitting behind a desk.
So when you can use some of the functionality that Microsoft has integrated into their new release, is include things like, you can get priority notifications, so the system can learn who’s important to you. To me, that’s not a big deal.
Other platforms could do that, but things like the ability to send targeted messages to everyone across the team. So if you’re in the hotel industry, you’re Marriott, and you want to send a message across the collaboration platform to everybody who has a position of a hotel manager or something like that, you can easily disseminate messages like that. Or it’s something as easy as adding the ability for employees to clock in and clock out using a collaboration app.
So that’s what’s interesting to me as it relates to what’s happening in the world of collaboration technology, just moving that kind of digital transformation beyond the desk-bound people.
Olivier Blanchard: I like it. Yeah, definitely. Daniel, I think you have some news about Apple and Siri.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, anybody that follows my work would know I like to talk a lot about Apple, and I don’t necessarily give them props very often, but today, I did give them props. I wrote up a piece. It’s all over the news. You can follow it. But essentially, the company has stalled their Siri testing program that they’ve been using where they’ve had contractors basically grading the Siri’s responses and Siri’s ability to handle the requests that have come through it.
After last week, there was news that came out about them capturing everything from people’s most intimate moments to drug deals, and they’ve decided to stop the program temporarily. They want to revise their privacy policies and give users the opportunity to opt in. This is a differentiator. This shows some commitment by the company to get it right. Now, the fact that they’re getting it right is a response to getting called out makes it a little less perfect, but others have been called out and have done nothing. I’m looking at you, Facebook. And so we’re at least seeing some action on the part of Apple. And like I said, when I’m giving kudos to Apple, you can be sure they are legitimately well earned kudos. Good job. Get it right. Bring it back.
Because in order to get Siri working the way it needs to to get your AI machine learning, you need training. You need big training sets. There are plenty of people that are willing to opt in and share everything. Oh, and one last thing for the world of people out there that do not think your devices are listening to you, remember, it needs to hear a wake-up word to wake up. That means it has to listen to everything. So it is listening to everything. Just assume that, and your life will be much more clear. Not better, just more clear.
Olivier Blanchard: And that is one of the reasons why you leave your phone outside of a SCIF if you have a high security clearance in the government, which we will get back to in one moment with Shelly and her story about the Department of Defense. My sole Fast Five this week is actually a pretty big deal. It’s Intel. Intel finally released details about its 10th generation Ice Lake CPUs, kind of paving the way for the next wave of laptops to hit the shelves this year or definitely in 2020. And so kind of the overall details of this is that there will be 11 different new processors ranging from dual core i3 to quad core i7. They’re all built on Intel’s new 10 nanometer Sunny Cove architecture. They’re kind of bringing really solid graphics capabilities to normal laptops as opposed to the real, true, kind of hardcore gaming laptops out there.
And of course, these won’t be as high performance, but you will be able to play quite a number of games that you weren’t able to play before. You’ll be able to run much more solid video editing and photo editing applications than before. I think these chips on the high ends will theoretically be able to run 60 frames per second for 4K videos and 30 frames per second, which is decent, for 8K videos, so it’s pretty great. I think 70 frames per second for CS:GO is one of the benchmarks. It actually will be able to play Fortnite in 1080p at 30 frames per second, which previous Intel chips of this category were able to do. So it’s really good. It’s going to be compatible with Wi-Fi 6.
And the way I see it is there’s kind of a movement or a shift in the laptop market towards all-day battery power and kind of always connected laptops, and so kind of the true maturity of laptops where they’re ultra-portable. They have super long battery life, and they can connect to pretty much any network. And up until now, Qualcomm has kind of led the charge with some of its laptop OEM partners with what they call ACPCs and now 5G PCs, always connected laptops with 20 plus hours of battery life. And this release of the Ice Lake generation of chipsets by Intel in conjunction with its Project Athena, which is trying to deliver ultra-portable laptops with extra-long battery life, I think is kind of Intel’s reaction to this ACPC shift. And so what we may see in the next year or two is kind of a fight between Qualcomm-powered all-day laptops and Intel-powered all-day laptops, and I, for one, as a consumer, I’m very much looking forward to the type of competition that is going to come out of that because that’s good for consumers.
Daniel Newman: Darn skippy, I’m on my ACPC right now.
Olivier Blanchard: I still don’t have one. But I’m on a Chromebook, but it’s nice. My Chromebook is kind of 75% there. It doesn’t quite have the 15 plus hours of battery life that yours probably has, but 12 hours isn’t bad.
Okay. So Shelly, there is something going on with the Department of Defense, isn’t there? Tell us about that.
Shelly Kramer: There is. So the Pentagon had been hoping to award a contract in August this month for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, JEDI program. And basically, it’s a $10 billion cloud computing contract that the Department of Defense has pretty much decided, amidst much controversy, to award to one single contractor. And the whole goal here is to give the Pentagon a single, secure, cloud computing system that would cover all of the government. And right now, what’s happening is that there are about 500 different clouds used by different parts of the military today, so that’s a lot. And the Pentagon has wanted to put all of this into one cloud program, select one vendor.
And vendors have been winnowed out, IBM, Oracle. Oracle’s made a big stink about it, and we’ve really pretty much been down to Amazon and Microsoft. The problem that Amazon is running into is that this administration is not a fan of Amazon. And so there was an announcement today that President Trump is taking a close look at this contract. And I would assume lobbyists have been all over Capitol Hill saying that it hasn’t been competitively bid and that people are complaining. “Some of the greatest companies in the world are complaining about this,” says our president.
And so I think there’s a chance. First of all, I’m not sure there’s much of a chance that Amazon is going to prevail if they’re just going to do what they said they were going to do, which is award one contract. If they ultimately decide to put it back out there and have this be something that could be a multi-vendor, multi-cloud contract, then who knows what’s going to happen, and who knows how long it’s going to be before that happens? But I think it’s interesting to watch, and we’ll see. But right now, my money’s on Microsoft.
Olivier Blanchard: I’m going to kind of break with protocol here and ask Dan really briefly, 20 seconds, comment on this, because I know you’ve been following this really closely too.
Daniel Newman: Well, I think Shelly’s close. The Trump verse Bezos thing will play an unlikely role in this. Oracle’s called Amazon to the carpet saying that they’ve got a conspiracy to control the cloud, which could end up pushing the decision makers to split the contract, which I actually think is what’s going to happen. But I could see to your point, Shelly, Microsoft taking a favorable portion of the contract. Although, as much as I am a Microsoft and Azure bull, I will say AWS is probably, as it stands today, a company that the government needs to be working with just based on their infrastructure and the number of pops and locations that they have for redundancy and other purposes.
Shelly Kramer: Oh, I absolutely agree. I think that to completely factor them out based on a personality clash between the president and Jeff Bezos doesn’t make any sense, but I think that is likely.
Daniel Newman: To him it does.
Shelly Kramer: To him it always does. Yeah. Everything he does make sense to him. So anyway, that’s kind of top of the news for me.
Olivier Blanchard: Okay, perfect. Well, Daniel, since, since I warmed up your vocal chords just now, tell us about the final of our Fast Fives for this week.
Daniel Newman: This’ll be the fastest Fast Five. Qualcomm had their earnings this week. We cover them closely. We talk about them a lot. Company had a good quarter for earnings per share but a little bit of a soft quarter for revenue. They came in short on revenue. They beat on earnings by about 5 cents coming in at 80 cents per share, and the stock took a beating for it, which isn’t surprising. Qualcomm does not have the most favorable emotional response to its news in a lot of cases, and that’s because a lot of its news tends to be big, litigation, regulation.
But on the other side of this, I basically am still pretty favorable on Qualcomm. One is because when it comes to 5G, they do have the right technology. If you heard about the amicus briefs, the government, the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, everybody, the president is coming to the support. Even Ericsson, even other competitors are coming to the aid of Qualcomm and their importance to 5G. And 5G is in such early days right now that as that starts to proliferate, they are in a really good position longterm.
So I know we don’t talk about stock in terms of people’s decision making to buy it, but I do think that this softer quarter will be followed by some better ones as 5G continues to expand. It’s also worth noting that Apple did pay them in this quarter to the tune of 4.7 billion, which was not reflected in those books. So the company actually had a nice cash windfall this quarter, which you can be sure is going to be put back into R&D and obviously covering some of the losses from all the payments they did not receive over the period of the dispute. But not a perfect week by any means for Qualcomm, but I’m still looking into the future and saying, with their importance to 5G and with 5G really hitting its stride, the future’s going to be better.
Olivier Blanchard: I concur 100%. All right, so let’s move on to Tech Bites, which there were quite a few this week.
Last week, we actually struggled to find a solid Tech Bite, but there were a few this week, and the one that won out by popular votes among us was Capital One. And I’m going to hand this one off to Shelly because I think she’s actually written about this already, and so she will be our resident expert on what happened with Capital One and why it made the top of our list for tech bites this week.
Shelly Kramer: All right, well, a 33 year old hacker and a former AWS engineer discovered a firewall vulnerability and hacked into the Capital One servers. And the information that she got access to was, as you might imagine, quite a bit, and compromised 100 million in the U.S. and 6 million in Canada. So it’s been interesting to watch. It would suck to be AWS and have a former employee be a hacker and to have Capital One use AWS’s servers. And of course, just because you use a server doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean that AWS played a role in here, but I think that would be a tricky position to be in.
And some things that came out today that were interesting is that this woman has a little bit of a sketch past, and she had made some comments about shooting up a California based social media company that wasn’t identified that the authorities were aware of. And so they were kind of watching her. And then she was kind of a dummy in that she was posting about this hack on different channels, and that’s really how this was discovered and kind of contained so quickly. So it was just kind of an all-around head-scratcher there why somebody would go to this length to get this information and then just talk about it online and all that sort of thing.
So I thought it was interesting and weird. And really, the sad thing is that once again, consumers are just screwed because there’s nothing really that you can do. I mean, the smartest thing I think is to use a service to monitor your credit accounts. And in some cases, if you’re not planning on applying for any loans or anything else, there’s no reason not to just lock those accounts down. But it is kind of just a, another day, another hack in the world today, and consumers are left really exposed.
Olivier Blanchard: So does that mean that we should go back to Equifax to have our…
Shelly Kramer: Well, speaking of being really exposed, so you were on the exposed list, and this huge repository that holds all of your credit history information for the last 20 some years is breached. You’re exposed as a result, and you get a $125 check. Well, that’s neat. That’s awesome. Thank you.
Daniel Newman: That is neat. And you might not even get the check. If you’ve read that, they only allocated 10 or 20% of that actual half billion or whatever it was in damages. And the rest, they want people to just take free credit monitoring. This is just big enterprise, big corporation BS at its best. It’s kind of like when the banks gave all those terrible loans and then got free money and then didn’t actually have any accountability to it. When you’re big enough, it’s not just too big to fail. It’s too big to be accountable is what it really comes down to. And then like I said, the whole process of getting your 125 bucks, they wanted all your updated personal and private information. Not that they don’t have it, but come on. I mean, the irony is not lost on me.
Shelly Kramer: We couldn’t keep it safe once, but if you give it to us again, we may be able to keep it safe until next week.
Daniel Newman: Please send passport photos, social security cards, and we will send you a very small check a very long time from now. Oh, and by the way, you might get a check, but you probably won’t because we’ve got a loophole for that. Equifax can kiss my…
Shelly Kramer: How long did you work on that? That’s just so pithy. I like it.
Daniel Newman: I just made it up right now.
Shelly Kramer: I was having a conversation just really quickly with somebody about this because we have a bunch of clients in the cybersecurity space, and he made the comment that it seems like in many instances what enterprises are doing, as it relates to breaches, is their attitude is just, “Eh, we’ve got cyber insurance. We’re fine,” without really much thought. The money part of it’s taken care of.
Daniel Newman: You’re absolutely right. I was doing some analysis on this, and it turns out a lot of companies are doing this like actuary. They’re looking at, what is it going to cost us in damages versus what is it going to cost us to properly protect our data? And if the insurance is cheaper, they go the route of the insurance. The challenge is it’s a lot harder to account for brand damage, but for a lot of small companies, midsize companies, and lesser known companies, I just don’t think that they’re worried about that. So definitely interesting.
At some point, you’d really have to think that it could become not just a civil liability but criminal liability to be so negligent with people that you cause a series of criminal damage. Because this is what it does, right? The civil action is that you were breached. You made a mistake. You pay a civil action to the people. The crimes are what happens afterwards when all that data gets exposed, and then a bunch of people go on crime sprees, stealing identities, taking your money, taking your assets. So you basically facilitated lots and lots and lots of crime. But of course, you’re not liable because oops, you ignored or neglected your data architecture because it was cheaper to just pay the toll than to get it right in the first place.
Shelly Kramer: Well, look what’s happening in the pharma industry with the opioid crisis. Aren’t we having some of that very same thing happen with some litigation that’s directed to the CEOs of some of these companies that goes beyond some personal potential liability as a result of these actions or lack thereof? Kind of similar.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, I haven’t tracked it, but I have no doubt.
Olivier Blanchard: I mean, we’ve been kind of wrestling with this for quite some time. It’s the same thing a little bit with airlines, right? Do you sue the airline when the airline crashes and when your loved one dies? Are there criminal charges filed? It’s the same thing with cars. An auto manufacturer might weigh the cost benefits of a recall based on how much their civil liability might outweigh the insurance pay out. So it’s kind of the same discussion that we keep having over and over again.
And that mentality of, well, it’s only going to cost money. Nobody’s actually going to go to prison for this, is obviously not a good balance of cause and effect and forcing people to be accountable. I’m all for deregulation where it makes sense. I’m all for simplifying the way that businesses and governments interact, but at the same time, we have to kind of be judicious I think when it comes to creating the right structures to drive the proper outcomes. And until we really start hitting people with the consequences of their actions, they will continue to misbehave and just kind of hide behind corporate dollars as opposed to… Because nobody wants to go to prison. It’s easy to write a check, especially when it’s, what’s your investor’s money.
Daniel Newman: Ask Zuck. In Zuck, we trust, but it should be in Zuck, you suck.
Olivier Blanchard: And we finally got around to mentioning Zuck on this podcast today even though none of the stories involve Facebook. Okay. So with that, that does it for our Tech Bites, and we now come to the final concluding segment of our podcast, our Crystal Ball. And as always, or not always, but most of the time, we’re going to circle back to our main topic. And my question to you two today is, understanding that… I think it’s reasonable to expect that brain implant chips or that type of kind of telepathic adjacent technology is at some point going to be an interface that will be commercially available for people who want to either implant something into their brain or wear funny little hairnets. What year do you think that we will see the first commercially viable, technology-enhanced, telepathic interface products? What year do we see that hitting the shelves where you can buy it at on Amazon or at Best Buy?
Daniel Newman: 2022.
Olivier Blanchard: Really, that early, okay. All right.
Daniel Newman: Everything’s very accelerated right now. I know this is a fast section, but I just think when you say implant, I think we’re really talking about a physical wearable that… I don’t think anyone’s doing self-implanting.
Olivier Blanchard: Right, right. It could be an implant, or it could be a wearable. Absolutely.
Daniel Newman: You’re not going to order a home implant kit on Amazon, but I could see about that time it becoming both medically relevant or achieved through some type of wearable that’s doing some of this. I mean, some of this is in testing now, so we have three years. It’s hard to think that they could actually beat Apple to their 5G modem in terms of getting brain implants, but it is possible.
Olivier Blanchard: Okay. Well, that, yeah, that certainly puts it in perspective. How about you, Shelly?
Daniel Newman: Had to find a way to fit that in.
Shelly Kramer: I think it’s going to be soon too. And I don’t know as much about this specifically. Daniel, you tackle writing about Neuralink. I don’t know about this as much specifically, but I have got to believe that this is in development in labs, certainly in medical labs, as it relates to the treatment of conditions. And so I think it’s going to be sooner rather than later. And I’ll give Daniel 2022. I’ll take 2023.
Olivier Blanchard: Oh, wow. Well, no, I’m nowhere near you guys. I think that the commercial kind of consumer version of this or pseudo consumer version of this, not until 2028 at least. So we will see. Let’s reconvene in 2022, 2023, and 2028 and see who is closest.
Daniel Newman: I’ll be able to think your thoughts by 2023.
Shelly Kramer: I thought you already were.
Olivier Blanchard: Well, I already spilled them out.
Daniel Newman: I’ll have a chance to live inside your body in a very…
Olivier Blanchard: I have no secrets. I’m on social media.
Daniel Newman: That is so boring.
Olivier Blanchard: All right. Cool. Well with that, that does it for this week’s edition of FTP, the Futurum Tech Podcast. Thank you to you both. Especially kind of, we organized this as a last minute thing. We had some reshuffling as this is a very busy Friday for us. And to our listeners, thanks for listening. Don’t forget to hit that subscribe button and catch us next week for another round of news and analysis of all things tech.
On behalf of Shelly, and Dan, I’d like to thank everybody that’s listening to today’s podcast. Please, if you have comments or feedback, let us know. Hit the subscribe button, share with your friends. Let us know what you’d like to hear about and we will be back next week with a new edition of FTP, The Futurum Tech Podcast.
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