🔐 Quantum hacking, explained


June 15, 2021

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The big idea
self-checkout tech

Tech is turbocharging self-checkout grocery stores

The TV show Supermarket Sweep has been on and off the air since the 1960s.

Every version of the show has a game called “the Big Sweep”: Teams race through grocery stores, trying to cram their carts with pricey goods or giant inflatables.

And thanks to the increased demand for grocery pickup and delivery, retail employees are having a Big Sweep of their own.

One Fred Meyer employee’s job…

… is to grab each online order item within 30 seconds and find 95% of every customer’s list, per The New York Times.

To keep up, stores are:

  • Building warehouses staffed by robots
  • Using devices that chart the quickest path through the aisles (though they’re not always accurate)

And tech is changing the game for in-store customers, too:

  • Grabango — which just raised $39m in Series B funding — makes shopping checkout-free. Ceiling cameras catch what shoppers put in their cart. Shoppers pay by scanning an app when they leave.
  • At Amazon Fresh stores, shoppers push the Dash Cart through a special lane where sensors tally items and charge whatever credit card shoppers use with Amazon.
  • Israeli startup WalkOut retrofits existing carts into smart carts that tally items, then scan the list to self-checkouts, traditional checkouts, e-wallets, or grocer apps, while also displaying promotions or shopping suggestions.
  • Main Street Market in Minnesota charges customers $75 for an annual membership, which gets them 24/7 access, even after staff has gone home. Customers pay with an app or self-checkout.

Now, please enjoy this Supermarket Sweep epic fail.

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SNIPPETS

Tiny bubbles: Moleaer — a startup that uses nanobubbles to improve water quality in agriculture, aquaculture, wastewater treatment, and more — just raised $9m. #clean-energy

Gaming convention E3 dropped trailers for anticipated titles including Starfield, Halo Infinite, and a Sea of Thieves/Pirates of the Caribbean crossover. #big-tech

Brad Wolverton has edited 750+ of these newsletters. Here’s what he’s learned about subject lines and open rates. #hustle-picks

SpaceBok is a Mars exploration robot that walks like an antelope. It’s also very cute. #emerging-tech

Ex-NSA contractor Reality Winner — sentenced in 2018 to 5 years for leaking classified info to media — has been released early. #privacy

Bitcoin in retrograde? A 22-year-old TikTok astrologer has racked up 1m followers by predicting crypto fluctuations. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Apple is planning to starting dropping the mask mandate for customers at stores across the US starting today. #ecommerce-retail

Cybersecurity
hacking graphic

Meet cybersecurity’s nightmare fuel: Quantum hacking

If you thought phishing attacks were bad, wait until you hear about quantum hacking.

Arqit, a London-based startup, is preparing the corporate world for a future where no secret data is safe.

The startup specializes in post-quantum encryption (we’ll get there), and is raising $400m in a planned public listing with a SPAC.

It’s big money for a problem that…

… is likely 10 years off by Arqit’s own account. But quantum hacking could completely change cybersecurity.

The way most digital companies and services keep data safe is through a 1970s technique known as PKI, or public-key infrastructure.

The cryptographic technique uses prime numbers and a mix of “public and private keys” — the same tech powering crypto.

Enter quantum computing

This is a term used to reference computing that uses the state of atoms (superstition, entanglement, etc.) to compute as opposed to silicon switches like today’s computers.

The result is a computer so powerful that it’s able to break PKI.

Many services on the internet use PKI to keep information like financial transactions, web browsing, and emails safe. By rendering PKI obsolete, the entire internet becomes susceptible to hackers.

Arqit is developing post-quantum forms of encryption

The startup uses technology that is unbreakable even for the fastest quantum computer.

The challenge is convincing businesses to prepare for the transition before they get burned, because no one really knows when a full-fledged quantum computer capable of cracking encryption will exist.

IBM plans to build a 1000-qubit processor — 10x larger than the largest today — by 2023. Still, that’s 1000x smaller than what will be needed.

So you can sleep well… for now.

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Going Electric
plugged in EV

How will Big Auto’s EV push affect car dealers?

You may have heard: Old industry carmakers are going all-in on electric vehicles (EV).

Per CNBC:

  • GM plans to spend $27B on EV models through 2025 (and wants to be all EV by 2035)
  • Ford is dropping a cool $22B on EVs and is aiming for a 40% plug-in fleet by 2030

Among the most-affected groups by this green auto shift:

Thousands of franchise auto dealers across America

Ford has ~3k while GM has ~4k… and these shops are bracing for a few huge changes:

  • Less service revenue: EVs have fewer parts than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and don’t require oil changes or transmission repairs. Per CNBC, servicing of ICE cars makes up 50% of a dealer’s gross profit, which is a big hit.
  • Pricey green certification: Auto dealers will also have to retrain their staff and upgrade their facilities for EV sales. Costs to do so can run from $50k to $300k+.
  • D2C sales: EV leader Tesla does all sales online. And while auto dealers have websites, their core business remains the classic in-person question: “What brings you to our lot today?”

While <3% of US new car sales are currently EV…

… the shift away from oil is inevitable. A Bloomberg report projects EVs to account for 58% of all new global passenger vehicle sales by 2040.

Auto dealers are already adapting to the shift, with 2.3k Ford dealers in the US already plunking down $50k to be EV-certified.

But, really, nothing says inevitable like the frunk space in the Ford’s electric truck (F-150 Lightning)… that’s bottomless space for BBQ equipment.

Source: Repair Driven News / Ford

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Michael Cera meme

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