And the beat goes on…

Uber launches self-driving cars in a trial in Pittsburgh…

A “CrimeRadar” app uses machine learning software to steer residents away from the most dangerous districts in Rio…

German director Werner Herzog launches a documentary that showcases a telepathic MRI scanner that broadcasts our unedited thoughts…

In another busy week in the tech space, it is difficult to separate the hype and hysteria from stories that are actually worth following.

So this week, and from now on, I thought I’d send you a quick note that boils the news down to three articles that are relevant to professional investors. The idea is simply to dig beneath the news, dial down the noise and find fresh ideas and themes to invest in.

First up…

PR Coup of the Week

The big hype story this week is Uber’s announcement that it’s offering a car hailing service in Pittsburgh, based on a handful of driverless, retrofitted Volvo XC90s. It’s worth reading Max Chafkin’s take on this on Bloomberg…

“Uber’s First Self-Driving Fleet Arrives in Pittsburgh this month

My take: Driverless cars? It may be carping but the Uber driverless cars are nothing of the sort. This is an example of how common it’s becoming to conflate ADAS — advanced driver assist systems — with full vehicle autonomy.

Each vehicle will have a human ‘safety driver’ with fingertips on the steering wheel for when its sensors pick up something it can’t navigate — a problem in Pittsburg’s narrow, busy streets and ageing transport infrastructure.

Secondly, it can’t do bridges.

Meanwhile, Google is already running a car pooling service for commuters in the Bay Area, and the company is thought to be in the process of deal making with Ford and/or Fiat-Chrysler.

The PR battle is heating up along with the technology but don’t expect anything truly revolutionary to be unveiled until 2019 at the earliest, with China’s Baidu in the frame to lead the pack.

As I said on Thursday, I’m keeping an eye on whether one of the German giants or a Chinese company make a pass at Delphi Automotive or Harman International — both look future filled and primed for takeover in the rush for component suppliers.

Key Investment Theme: Tech Crunch

Chris Dixon has written a brief summary of new technologies that are coming in the near future…

11 reasons to be excited about the Future of Technology”.

My take: Self driving cars…Virtual and Augmented Reality…Artificial Intelligence…these technologies are enabled by the availability of cheap, smart sensors coupled with virtually unlimited computer power, the result of years of investment by tech titans.

However, many of these technologies are crossing the chasm at the same time, placing huge demands on infrastructure.

According to Nature, the internet is being throttled as data traffic from mobile devices is increasing by an estimated 53% per year — most of which will end up going through mobile-phone towers, or ‘base stations’, whose coverage is already spotty, and whose bandwidth has to be shared by thousands of users.

What the world needs now…

<> Batteries, to use Elon Musk’s word ‘suck’, but more and more items in the swelling world of IoT will depend on them, including EVs, medical monitoring devices, wearables. Buy Lithium.

<> New Chips and systems of chips to handle data flood

<> Secure networks. The now shocking reality is that in a constantly connected, densely networked world nothing has been architected to be secure and nothing whether smart phone, connected pacemaker or car IS secure. They can all be ‘weaponised’. It’s odds on there will a major cyber attack causing panic and turmoil, e.g., of financial markets, the grid, a nuclear power station, anytime. AI will have to be used to confront the issue and is being developed to do so.

The Big Picture: Joshua Cooper Ramo

In his recent book The Seventh Sense, Joshua Cooper Ramo delves deep into this issue of network security.

Ramo is keen to emphasise the positive sum approach to networks and how it is reshaping the global economy, but also that the devices and networks have NOT been built with security in mind because that would compromise speed and openness.

The lack of security and the emergent vulnerabilities of networks could lead to widespread questioning of the value of constant connectivity.

It’s worth listening to a conversation he recently had with Malcolm Gladwell…

The Seventh Sense: Episode #2

Feel free to pass on

If you are a regular reader of my briefings, or indeed my Peripheral Vision letter, feel free to alert your colleagues by forwarding on this email or retweeting.

All feedback is most welcome. You can connect with me by email and on twitter.