News Fix: Startups Transform Transportation, Kentucky to Consider Legalizing Medical Marijuana

Editor’s Note: Senior Managing Editor Vin Narayanan here. I’m out of the office this weekend and next weekend, so Assistant Managing Editor Allison Brickell will be filling in for me on the News Fix.


Andy Gordon has done a great job chronicling the investment potential of artificial intelligence (AI) – and the ethical questions it will raise. He’s completely right on both counts. But a future where we put most of our trust in AI technology is kind of scary.

Hey, I’ve seen The Matrix. Filmmakers and authors have been creating stories about man versus machine for decades. I know how this kind of thing goes.

But in a strange plot twist, we now have machine-on-machine crime. A self-driving Tesla struck and “killed” a humanoid robot in Las Vegas earlier this week, right at the start of CES (Consumer Electronics Show). The robot, made by Promobot, was scheduled to participate at CES. But Promobot says the robot is now too damaged to attend – maybe irreparably so.

In an even weirder twist, many are speculating the whole thing is a Promobot publicity stunt.

Somehow, I don’t think this is what anyone had in mind when we imagined achieving our dreams through the power of technology. (R.I.P., robot.)

On to the News Fix…

Startups

CES shook up Las Vegas this week, and automakers and transportation companies showed up in a big way (CNBC). A recurring theme was a shift to using vehicles as a service.

For example, Uber proposed launching a flying taxi service by 2023. In its Uber Elevate initiative, the company plans to work with Bell, an aircraft manufacturer, to “operate a network through which electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles in numerous cities worldwide will provide transportation and delivery logistics services.”

Byton, a China-based startup focused on marrying automobiles and digital literacy, showcased its M-byte SUV, which has a dashboard-length digital display that shows gauges, navigation, audio and other information. The electric car is fully hands-free but requires a backup driver in case of emergency.

“Our business model will not just be about selling cars, but using the car as a platform,” Byton CEO Carsten Breitfeld said in an interview.

Meanwhile, venture capitalists had their highest spending year in history in 2018, pouring roughly $131 billion across 8,949 deals (CNBC). A PitchBook analyst said expensive startups were the reason for the high spending, despite fewer available deals. Just another reason to keep an eye out for good startup investment deals.

Cannabis

A small group of Kentucky lawmakers are pushing to legalize medical marijuana. On Wednesday, the group filed House bill H.R. 136, which would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana deemed medically appropriate. Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, said Kentucky shouldn’t continue to outlaw a drug that could benefit the estimated 40,000 to 60,000 Kentuckians living with chronic pain (Lexington Herald Leader).

“I’ve never taken an illegal drug in my life,” Nemes said while introducing H.R. 136. “But let me tell you, and I want to say it clearly, and I would say it in front of every camera in Kentucky. If my son or my wife or my parents or one of my brothers or sisters would benefit from medical marijuana, tell me where to get it. Even if it’s illegal. And I would submit that 99% of Kentuckians would do the same thing.”

Nemes and other House members in support of the bill said they’re confident they can win the majority of votes in their chamber, but they may face obstacles in the Senate. If the lawmakers are successful, Kentucky will join the ranks of 33 states (and Washington, D.C.) that have legalized medical marijuana so far.

Crypto

Ethereum Classic is having a rough start to the year. The network suffered a 51% attack early this week when someone attacked the network 15 times, resulting in the loss of $1.1 million worth of ethereum classic. (In a 51% attack, a person or group of miners controls more than 50% of the network’s mining power and can thus double-spend coins or interfere with transactions in the network.) Crypto exchanges Coinbase, Gate.io and Bitrue have all issued statements alerting users to the attack (Cointelegraph).

The good news is that security firm SlowMist believes it has enough evidence to identify the culprit. SlowMist tracked the attack closely, noting exact times and wallet addresses, complete with screenshots. The firm said it’s still seeking the locations of the wallet addresses, but it can track them down with help from crypto exchanges.

It’s important to keep in mind that while attacks like these are never fun, they’re not a reason to stay away from the crypto markets. The crypto space is still developing, and changes are being made all the time. There will inevitably be rough patches as cryptos find their way.

We have more on this coming up in tomorrow’s Mailbag. Adam Sharp will explain further how these kinds of attacks aren’t a real threat to established coins like bitcoin.

That’s your News Fix.

Have a great weekend!

Allison Brickell
Assistant Managing Editor, Early Investing

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Source: Early Investing