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China’s Crypto Crusade, Tesla Tut-Tuts NHTSA & Instagram Thinks Of The Children?

China bans bitcoin (again) 2021 you are here meme big

We’re Serious This Time!

China, do you think they’ll drop Bitcoin (BTC)? China, do you think they’ll like this song?

China, will you try to break my crypto? Oooh, ah. China, should you build the wall?

So, China banned cryptocurrencies … again. But, this time, it’s cereal. Totally cereal.

Chinese President Xi Jinping started his anti-cryptocurrency crusade back in 2017 when the country banned all local crypto exchanges — effectively killing 90% of global crypto trading at the time.

What I'd miss keep Greatness flowing meme

Then in 2019, Xi added another layer to his crypto wall by banning access to all domestic and foreign crypto exchanges and coin offering websites.

Up until this past Friday, Chinese citizens could still hodl bitcoin and other cryptos, even if they couldn’t legally trade or spend them. But on Friday, Xi put the final nail in crypto hopes in China.

According to an official statement, China outright banned financial institutions and payment processors from offering any crypto-related services … at all. That means no trading, no crypto registration and no clearing or settlement of any crypto transactions.

China did it need to be so … high?

Xi also said that regulators were hunting down illegal crypto miners and warned Chinese investors against crypto trading. Apparently, they know who you are … and they will come and find you.

You might be wondering why China would ban crypto. Here’s the official party line:

Recently, cryptocurrency prices have skyrocketed and plummeted, and speculative trading of cryptocurrency has rebounded, seriously infringing on the safety of people’s property and disrupting the normal economic and financial order.

So, protecting the people? Riiight. We all know this is about control. China can’t have its citizens trading in a currency it has no direct control over — it undermines Chinese authority.

Respect my authoritay!

Right you are, Cartman. But for crypto traders, Friday’s news is nothing to worry about. The market already knew this was coming, and the sell-offs in bitcoin, Dogecoin, Ethereum and the rest were all panic-based.

So, nothing to see here. Move along. Crypto doesn’t need China to be successful on a global scale — we still have El Salvador! And savvy Chinese traders will find a way to invest anyway.

Moreover, any dips in crypto (especially bitcoin) that result from this China news should be a buying opportunity for all you hodlers out there.

If you were wanting to invest in crypto but weren’t sure where to get started, go here.

On a side note, I find it really hard to take China seriously when it announced its crypto ban alongside “sissy idols” and “effeminate men” in the media and Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

I bet President Xi drives a Dodge Ram 1500 with a big pair of these hanging on the back. Just saying…

Great Stuff New Going Going Gone

Going: “Look Ma, No Hands!”

Full self-driving keep using words Tesla don't think they mean meme

You’ve got a self-driving car. Is it safe enough for us to drive away? Elon’s gotta make a decision…

And Musk decided that no investigation from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is going to slow his rollout of Tesla’s (Nasdaq: TSLA) Full Self-Driving Beta (FSD Beta) software.

On Friday, Tesla announced that certain drivers with a “sufficiently high safety score” could start requesting access to FSD Beta — an unfinished version of Tesla’s premium driver-assistance software it sells for $10,000 upfront, or $199 a month.

That seems like a lot of cash to spend on unfinished tech that could … you know … kill you if you’re not careful.

See, in theory, FSD lets people drive without having to sit behind the wheel of a Tesla. There’s just one problem: Tesla vehicles tend to hit things while unsupervised and on Autopilot or assisted-driving mode.

Hence the investigation from the NHTSA.

Given Tesla’s ongoing safety concerns, its latest FSD Beta announcement raised the eyebrows of certain government regulators … like Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board, who said that “basic safety issues have to be addressed” before Tesla releases its software.

Personally, this whole thing feels like a 17-car pileup waiting to happen. But you and I both know that safety concerns have never stopped Elon before … and they’re certainly not going to stop him now.

I just hope Tesla’s in-house screening process for who gets access to the FSD Beta is more thoroughly vetted than the company’s own self-driving tech. But then again, it’s Tesla … so probably not.

Going: Great Googly Moogly

Google Apple Class action ruling lower charge meme

Apple core! Baltimore.

Who’s your friend? Google!

Google, Alphabet’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) flagship search division, announced today that it’s reducing the amount of money it charges customers when they buy software on its cloud marketplace — i.e., the Google Play Store.

Google is dropping that charge from a whopping 20% to just 3%, adding that:

Our goal is to provide partners with the best platform and most competitive incentives in the industry. We can confirm that a change to our Marketplace fee structure is in the works, and we’ll have more to share on this soon.

Great Ones, I don’t know about you, but I know BS when I read it. And this is BS. Not the drop in Google Play Store tax from 20% to 3% … that’s happening. No, it’s the reason why Google is doing this … that it’s good for platform providers and customers. That part. That’s BS.

What Google is doing is getting out ahead of the wave that’s coming. A wave that started with Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL), class action lawsuits and an Epic legal battle. Google sees the Apple sauce smeared on the wall. Google knows that it will have to reduce those fees anyway or get sued just like Apple.

Apple tried to get out ahead of this tidal wave, but it was too little too late. Microsoft and Amazon have both already dropped their cloud marketplace fees, and Google is the last to join the movement.

Despite this, Google and analysts are spinning the lower cloud revenue as a positive, claiming that the lowered fees will attract more vendors to its online stores. That might be true in the long run, but I bet we’ll still see a negative reaction come earnings time when Google’s cloud revenue comes in well below expectations due to these changes.

What’s more, today’s announcement still doesn’t shield Google from any potential legal action … it’s just less likely as long as Google appears to act in good faith.

Gone: Facebook Flubs

Facebook Instagram for Kids where will get unrealistic expectations meme

Remember back in May when Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) announced its plan to “help” parents monitor their kids’ social media activity by creating an Instagram app for children under the age of 13?

And how we were all supposed to believe this was an altruistic move on the part of Mark Zuckerberg instead of a massive data and privacy concern targeting today’s youth of the nation?

Yeah… Well, turns out Instagram Kids went over about as well as 9 a.m. Zoom meeting with your boss.

This morning, Facebook announced that it’s going to pause the project after receiving harsh criticism from parents and lawmakers alike. Of course, it didn’t come right out and say that Instagram Kids was an epic failure … because that would require full transparency on Facebook’s part. And Facebook doesn’t do full transparency.

Instead, FB investors were left reading between these lines of drivel:

While we believe building ‘Instagram for Kids’ is the right thing to do, Instagram, and its parent company Facebook, will re-evaluate the project at a later date. In the interim, Instagram will continue to focus on teen safety and expanding parental supervision features for teens.

Riiiight. And this has absolutely nothing to do with the Wall Street Journal report that found Facebook’s Instagram app is especially harmful to teenagers — particularly teenage girls.

Look, you and I both know that Facebook isn’t really concerned with protecting young people online. It just wants to further zombify younger generations and gain access to their data so that it can turn around and sell said data for profit.

Well, I’m not buying … even if Facebook stock is one of the best social media investments on the market right now. There’s making money, and then there’s having a conscience — and I choose to be able to sleep at night.

Where do you fall in this great Facebook debacle? Let us know at GreatStuffToday@BanyanHill.com.

Great Stuff Chart of the Week

By golly, would you look at the time!

It’s been … one week since we looked at EVs … cocked your head to the side and said: “It’s self-driving.”

We’ve gone, like, three whole days since we last checked in on what’s shaking in the autonomous tech market. Clearly, that’s way too long for you self-driven fiends out there. Today’s Chart of the Week should scratch that itch for you — here’s a look at just how much autonomous driving tech has taken off in recent years:

Cars increasingly ready for autonomous driving levels 2020 chart

Sure, we may not be anywhere close to the robo-taxi fleets that Uber or Tesla dream about — and we’ll get to China’s experimentation there in a sec — but basic self-driving tech is much more prevalent than one might think.

Less than a quarter of last year’s cars shipped with Level 0 self-driving — no driver-assist functions whatsoever (truck nuts, however, remain a possibility).

Half of 2020’s cars had some form of self-driving tech, even if it’s just slight braking help. Also, shout-out to Statista for the typo on “braking” and “breaking” here — did you catch that one, Ken B.?

But, as you can see from the handy dandy chart above, automakers have yet to deliver a Level 3 self-driving car yet, which is the point where the car’s automated system starts to monitor the environment more than the driver does.

And it’s here that we reach self-driving tech’s impasse — the point where techies’ expectations meet consumers’ fears and where automaker’s marketing promises meet their cars’ capabilities.

You have cars that can kinda do some things on their own; you have automakers that sell you the illusion of full-self-driving tech; and you have some car-buyers who expect their cars to do everything, then go pass out in the backseat.

It’s no wonder many countries are still split right down the middle as to whether or not people “feel” like self-driving tech is safe:

Where people warming up self-driving cars China U.S. chart

Could this pessimism — this skepticism toward AI behind the wheel — be holding back the self-driving tsunami? Or are we just witnessing the slow, unsteady rollout of a new paradigm … the incremental progress of tech over time?

We won’t transition to a driverless society overnight (to the relief of some of you and the dismay of others). There will be setbacks and slowdowns in how consumers react to new self-driving features … oftentimes due to the heavy media focus whenever Tesla’s Autopilot is involved in a crash.

Besides, what is “safe enough?” There’s only “safer.” And the only way to make self-driving tech safer is sponsoring more self-driving research — to spur more pilot programs that, in turn, make the tech safer. Only real-life scenarios will prepare self-driving tech for real life.

You can see that, despite an uptick in 2020, China has had the lowest reported percentage of people against self-driving cars. No surprise, China — and Baidu especially — have experimented with taxi services to get more self-driving tech on the road and into consumers’ minds.

And it’s a simple correlation, really: As self-driving tech improves and is more prominent … people are more welcoming of the tech. Who’d’a thunk it?

One thing is certain, Great Ones: If you’re not personally gung-ho about being whisked around in a driverless Uber one day … you don’t want to miss out on the tech behind self-driving cars. Take lidar, for instance.

Almost every car company is betting on this new tech: Audi alone is investing $16 billion … GM, $27 billion through 2025. BMW? $35 billion. In fact, Google, Amazon, Apple and even the U.S. Army are investing in it.

Click here to see why!

What do you think about self-driving cars? Are you ready to let go and let Jesus (or AI) take the wheel? Or will it be a cold day on the interstate when you let some robot drive you and Miss Daisy around?

Let me in the inbox: GreatStuffToday@BanyanHill.com. We’d love to hear from you! In the meantime, here’s where else you can find us:

Until next time, stay Great!

Joseph Hargett

Editor, Great Stuff

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