Apple Workers Hear Siri Sex Tapes, Drug Deals
A new scandal at Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)? This one might be a bit worse than Cambridge Analytica, at least in terms of cringeworthiness. The Guardian reports that Apple workers tasked with grading Siri, the voice-activated robot thingy that can do Google searches for you, and maybe some other stuff if you get really lucky, routinely hear snippets of private conversations that include sensitive medical history, criminal drug deals, and sexual encounters. This happens when Siri is accidentally activated, for example at the sound of a zipper, which for some reason wakes up the AI and sends the recording to Apple for quality assurance purposes. While Apple doesn’t plan to actually do anything with this stuff, it does leave open the possibility that, if Apple works with intelligence agencies in the government, anyone can be theoretically spied on at any time on the whim of a FISA court, or sometimes not even that much. A word of advice: turn off your phone before having any sort of sensitive conversation, or encounter.
Alibaba’s Ma Loans Trillions with AI
Jack Ma, Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) founder and CEO, is making a splash in the Chinese banking world, having lent over $290 billion worth of yuan to 16 million companies over four years. All potential borrowers have to do is apply through an app on a smartphone and they get cash almost instantly if they meet all requirements, which might be limited to having an airway, circulation, and breathing, just like they teach you in medical school. The process takes about 3 minutes and involves no bankers that are people. The default rate so far is about 1%, all this according to Bloomberg. The bank is primarily a small business loan operation, the sector of the Chinese economy that accounts for 80% of workers. The operation is powered by Big Data anlaysis and artificial intelligence, which is why no actual humans are needed to make decisions. Soon the robots will be lending themselves money and denying the humans credit, a financial equivalent of Judgment Day, or I Robot. On that thought…
Google Gets Gabbarded, Tulsi Style
Tulsi Gabbard, the non-interventionist foreign policy dove Hawaiian Hindu Democratic Presidential Candidate, is suing Alphabet Inc’s. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google, which is still technically a subsidiary. She has objected to the fact that Google blocked her from buying ads for several hours on June 28th two days after the first Democratic primary debate. “Google plays favorites, with no warning, no transparency, and no accountability,” Gabbard wrote. “Google’s arbitrary and capricious treatment of Gabbard’s campaign should raise concerns for policymakers everywhere about the company’s ability to use its dominance to impact political discourse.” Perhaps she believes that suing the search giant will gain her some press. Google has defended itself by using the robot defense, in that her suspension was triggered by automated anti-fraud algorithms.
Britain Prepares for No Deal Brexit
The Boris Johnson administration is upping its game with plans for a no deal Brexit. How exactly it is doing this is not quite clear, but it is making sure that the media thinks that it is doing this, so that the British electorate feels like something sounds like it’s being done, so that in the event of a general election being triggered in case Parliament revolts and forces one, the people will vote Johnson on the theory that he was trying to prepare but Parliament stopped him. Johnson’s no deal Brexit planner guy Michael Gove said this explicitly when he was quoted as saying that the government would be spending a lot of money on a public information campaign of all things. In Gove’s words, “one of the biggest peacetime public information campaigns this country has seen.” That should do it. Johnson was quoted again as saying that he will deliver Brexit by the end of the October “no ifs or buts”. He didn’t say anything about ands, howevers, rathers, maybes, perhapses, mayhapses, or perchances.
Pfizer, Mylan, Say Yes to Drugs
Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Mylan (NASDAQ:MYL) are talking about combining the former’s portfolio of off-patent drugs with Mylan’s generic drugs business, according to the Wall Street Journal. The deal had not been completed by press time, but since there really is no press time anymore and articles are published in stream-of-consciousness constant flow, it could have already been finalized by the time you read this. Generic drug stocks have been obliterated by slower sales and low-priced competition. According to people on the inside, the deal could orbit around a stock transfer with Mylan owning 40% of the new company and Pfizer getting 60%. Pfizer would also raise about $12 billion in debt. No time like the present to do that, what with cheap money bursting at the seams of the Fed.
Speaking of the Fed
The Federal Reserve will almost certainly cut interest rates this week, and will announce this during its 2pm press conference on Wednesday. Watch the dollar index over the coming months, (NYSEARCA:UUP), especially in the context of a no deal Brexit. This could do anything to the Euro and really upset the forex trading apple cart generally. Keep an eye on gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) and possibly even Bitcoin (BTC-USD) on further central bank moves.
On Tuesday, the Personal Consumption Expenditures index will be published, which last month showed core prices increasing at a 1.6% annual pace. The “target” is 2%, though because of the theory of “symmetrical inflation” which says that if money doesn’t lose purchasing power fast enough, the deterioration must be sped up, the Fed will likely tolerate levels much higher than 2% for quite a while, and may only get nervous at around 4%, by which time it may be too late to do anything about it.