Tag Archives: Tesla

Supplier Report: 2/23/2018

Tesla and other battery-based companies are consuming so much cobalt that Apple is considering stockpiling it.  The company wants to hedge against future price increases.  Apple can use all that new Warren Buffett money to help pay for that stockpile (he shifted more money away from IBM and over to Apple).

Telsa also made news this week due to their AWS account being hacked and set up to mine for bitcoin (you can’t make this up).

Back in August, I dedicated a few podcasts on Google’s anti-competition loss in Europe. Bloomberg revisited the story to figure out who benefited from the ruling… as I mentioned in the podcast in August, it wasn’t small businesses.

Artificial Intelligence

  • If you don’t like what IBM is pitching, blame Watson: It’s generating sales ‘solutions’ now

    Internal documents seen by The Register reveal the tech goliath has developed something it calls “cognitive solutioning,” to be deployed when Big Blue is asked to do a job that can’t easily be scoped from its service catalogue.

    “We’ve trained Watson on our standard solutions and offerings, plus all the prior solutions IBM has designed for large enterprises,” the corporate files state. “This means we can review a client’s RFP [request for proposal] and come up with a new proposed architecture and technical solution design for a state of the art system that can run enterprise businesses at scale.” Proposed solutions will be delivered “in minutes,” it is claimed.


  • IBM’s Watson Project Suffers Backlash from Overhype

    The IBM Watson project is one example of an AI project that was over-hyped, a project that has tried to tackle too much too soon. IBM had early successes with AI. It’s Deep Blue and Watson technologies proved to be superior to humans in competitions like chess and the game show Jeopardy. IBM then announced that they were re-positioning Watson from a novelty to an AI project with the target of improving cancer care. Despite a big budget and significant positive press for the project, a recent analysis of the results from the Watson cancer project are underwhelming.

    The investigation was made by STAT and found that “Perhaps the most stunning overreach is in the company’s claim that Watson for Oncology, through artificial intelligence, can sift through reams of data to generate new insights and identify, as an IBM sales rep put it, ‘even new approaches’ to cancer care… While Watson became a household name by winning the TV game show ‘Jeopardy!’, its programming is akin to a different game-playing machine: the Mechanical Turk, a chess-playing robot of the 1700s, which dazzled audiences but hid a secret — a human operator shielded inside. In the case of Watson for Oncology, those human operators are a couple dozen physicians at a single, though highly respected, U.S. hospital: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Doctors there are empowered to input their own recommendations into Watson, even when the evidence supporting those recommendations is thin.”



  • Tesla’s Amazon cloud account was hacked and used to mine cryptocurrency

    Tesla’s Amazon Web Services account was hacked to mine cryptocurrency, Fortune first reported. The hack, which was brought to Tesla’s attention by the cybersecurity startup RedLock, also reportedly exposed some of Tesla’s proprietary data related to mapping, telemetry, and vehicle servicing.

    RedLock discovered the hack after it found an IT administrative console that didn’t have a password, but the company was unable to determine who initiated the hack or how much cryptocurrency was mined. According to Fortune, Tesla paid RedLock over $3,000 as part of its bug bounty program, which rewards people who find vulnerabilities in the company’s products or services that could be exploited by hackers.



  • Cisco Switches Back On

    A major refresh of its switching products last summer helped lift the company’s overall revenue by nearly 3% year over year to $11.9 billion for the period ended Jan. 27. That was Cisco’s first quarter of growth after eight straight periods of declines. The applications and security segments each grew revenue by about 6% year over year.

    Those results, along with a better-than-expected forecast, were good enough to boost Cisco’s share price by 6% in after-hours trading. Investors also are enthusiastic about the company’s cash hoard of $34 billion, net of debt, that could fuel future deals thanks to the recent tax overhaul. Cisco still has plenty of diversification ahead of it, but a revived core businesses should make the process less painful.


  • IBM vs Google vs Intel – The race to quantum computing

    “Using… classical computers, it will take 3,000 years,” she says about a famous and burdensome encryption problem. To tackle the same problem, a quantum computer “could solve it in minutes.”

    She lists the myriad of other applications quantum computers could optimise, such as complex physical modelling for climate, economics, and engineering fields, advanced chemical and material simulations, machine learning, and database searching.

    “As a consequence,” she concludes, “there’s a massive international race to build a quantum computer.”


  • Apple is trying to lock down battery components before electric carmakers get them

    Apple is in talks to buy cobalt directly from miners to help shield it from any shortages sparked by the boom in electric cars, according to a report from Bloomberg. Cobalt is a key mineral used in lithium-ion batteries, and Bloomberg says that Apple is looking to secure contracts for several thousand metric tons of cobalt each year for five years or longer. Its first discussions for deals took place a year ago, but another source told Bloomberg that Apple might not even go ahead with the plans.

    If Apple does end up buying cobalt directly, it will be in competition with car manufacturers and battery makers in locking up supplies of the raw material. Car giants like BMW and Volkswagen are also searching for multiyear deals to ensure they also have enough cobalt to meet targets in electric car production. Bloomberg reports that smartphone batteries use around eight grams of refined cobalt, but a battery for an electric car needs more than a thousand times that amount.



  • Amazon’s Latest Ambition: To Be a Major Hospital Supplier

    The market for medical supplies is one of a growing number of businesses the online retail giant has set in its sights, from groceries to clothing, often with market-moving results. Health-care distributor shares dropped Tuesday, in part from The Wall Street Journal’s report of Amazon’s intensified push into the industry, analysts said.

    Amazon recently dispatched employees to a large Midwestern hospital system, where officials are testing whether they can use Amazon Business to order health supplies for the system’s roughly 150 outpatient facilities, according to a hospital official overseeing the efforts.


  • Warren Buffett doubles down on Apple, dumps nearly all of his IBM shares

    Buffett’s investment firm, Berkshire Hathaway, ended the year with 165.33 million Apple shares, collectively worth some $27.6 billion based on yesterday’s closing price. Berkshire Hathaway is now Apple’s fourth-largest institutional investor. The firm began buying Apple stock in early 2016.

    Meanwhile, Berkshire Hathaway sold off around 35 million shares of IBM in the fourth quarter, and entered 2018 with just 2.05 million shares. The firm began buying up IBM stock in 2011, and at one point held more than 80 million shares.


  • Why Europe’s Google Rulings Don’t Benefit Consumers

    Reporters for Politico have discovered that FairSearch, the non-profit group that filed the Android complaint in 2013, is under the full legal control of two giant companies: U.S.-based Oracle and South Africa-based Naspers, which owns shares in China’s Tencent and Russia’s Mail.ru. At the time the complaint was filed, Microsoft was also part of the effort, but it left FairSearch in 2015. Other companies that have been mentioned as FairSearch members are so-called adherent members without voting rights who “do not participate actively in the achievement of the association’s goals.”

    This makes sense on a certain level: The small firms don’t have the deep pockets to hire expensive lawyers and PR consultants (FairSearch is working with elite firms Clifford Chance and Burson Marsteller). FairSearch has rejected Politico’s findings as immaterial, and some of its “adherent members” have backed this stance. But the implication is clear: If, at the end, it all comes down to Oracle’s and Naspers’s desire to keep Google in check, Google may end up punished but consumers and smaller companies won’t get much out of it.


Photo:Maria Badasian

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News You Can Use: 4/26/2017

  • Buy American, Hire American – Coming Soon to Impact a Supply Chain Near You

    The Buy American, Hire American order is two-fold. The Buy American agenda will: (1) instruct agencies to conduct comprehensive assessments; (2) target waivers and exceptions allowing foreign goods advantages in U.S. government procurement; (3) require a review of WTO’s Agreement on Government Procurement and other trade deals to ensure compliance with new standards; (4) require Buy American bidding processes to take into account unfair trade practices; and (5) promote American-made steel. The Hire American agenda will: (1) enforce laws governing entry of foreign workers in order to promote rising wages and more employment; and (2) direct agencies to propose reforms to H-1B program.

    Industry trade groups, including the American Petroleum Institute and Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, claim the order will reduce competition leading to higher prices. Ken Simonson of the Association of General Contractors, states he expects prices to go up on key materials for construction projects, such as fuel, lumber, steel, and copper. Simonson warns trade restrictions limit the ability of contractors and manufacturers to control costs leading to projects being deferred or even canceled.

    Note: I have been trying to keep up with this topic personally and put together this post last week and Episode 58 of SourceCast.

  • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Faces Balancing Act in Net Neutrality Rollback

    No matter which path he eventually chooses—fast or slow—Mr. Pai might feel he has to start soon. That is because he faces at least some risk that the lone remaining Democrat on the commission, Mignon Clyburn, could leave at some point after her term expires in June. There are already two vacancies on the five-member commission, so her departure could leave the FCC without a quorum, at least until a successor is confirmed. Then it would be far more difficult for the agency to vote on major policy changes—even just initiating them.


  • Has supply chain growth outpaced the talent it requires?

    “There have been a lot of changes. There’s more and more automation; transacting purchases with artificial intelligence (AI) is a radical change,” he told Supply Chain Dive. “Will you need people doing these things? [Currently] you find a supplier, put out the RFIs (requests for information) and get sourcing recommendations. I don’t know if that will be there in five or 10 years.”

    Flashback to SourceCast Episode 55 – I go deep on this topic:

  • Most employees willing to share sensitive information, survey says

    According to an end user security survey released this morning, 72 percent of employees are willing to share confidential information. In the financial services sector, the percentage was even higher — 81 percent said they should share sensitive, confidential or regulated information.

    This is despite the fact that 65 percent said that it was their responsibility to protect confidential data.

    “There is an acknowledgment by employees that security is important,” said Brett Hansen, vice president for endpoint and data security at Dell, the company that sponsored the survey. “But their actions are not consistent with good data security.”


  • Why Tesla’s Future Is So Hard to Predict

    Earlier this month, Navigant Research published a report that declared the worldwide leader in self-driving tech is Ford, followed by GM, Renault-Nissan, Daimler, and Volkswagen—all car companies. Tesla finished 12th. One research report isn’t gospel. But it suggests that the “Tesla Is Apple, and Cars Are Smartphones” thesis has some serious limitations. In 2007, Apple’s competitors thought the iPhone was a terrible idea. But in 2017, almost all of Tesla’s competitors are engaged in a global race to build electric and autonomous vehicles, and some of them are arguably ahead of Musk in software and distribution capacity.


Photo: Sebastian Unrau

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