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Pennywise (Part 2)

As promised, we give you the second installment on the Federal Reserve and the history of paper money:

“Bernanke once told Congress that money (i.e. the dollar) is ‘credit’. Many disagree with him.  What is certain is that the current Federal Reserve note represents a debt of the Federal Reserve Bank. For example, the bank will pay $1 upon presentation of the banknote, similar to the U.S. Note.

“About 10 years ago, the Treasury was still keeping track of the U.S. Notes it had issued.  At that time, it was ‘cancelling’ a certain percentage of the outstanding issue or debt yearly on the basis the notes had been lost and/or destroyed. I haven’t checked but I suspect there is some Treasury employee who still keeps track of that.

“And all the notes are printed by the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. The Fed does not actually have a printing press in the basement but they have computers that can issue credit which is easier than actually printing a banknote. 

“The Silver Certificates had a blue Treasury seal, the U.S. Note had a red Treasury seal and the Federal Reserve Notes have a green Treasury seal since, at least, 1955.

“If you want to go back even further, the Treasury once had issued Gold Certificates which had a golden-yellow Treasury seal. I assume the readers know what happened to those….”

We can probably take an educated guess.

Thanks to our contributor.

Your Rundown for Friday, July 12, 2019:

Google… Just Why?

A Belgian public broadcaster has pulled back the curtain on some of Google’s questionable practices; the news outlet shed light on transcripts recorded from Google Assistant (the tech company’s answer to Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa).

A headline from The Verge says it all: “Yep, human workers are listening to recordings from Google Assistant, too.” That’s right. Google contract employees around the world transcribe your conversations (or not, depending).

For its part — in a blog post yesterday — Google issued a justification for its practices, saying these recorded conversations don’t contain any “sensitive” information and are used only to better train AI for voice and language recognition.

Not so. “In the story by VRT NWS, which focuses on Dutch and Flemish speaking Google Assistant users, the broadcaster reviewed a thousand or so recordings, 153 of which had been captured accidentally.”

And “accidentally” means that Google Assistant started recording “background conversations” that weren’t prompted by a human saying the words “Okay, Google” to engage with it.

(So, if we understand correctly, any conversation after the words “Okay, Google” is fair game for recording? Must be buried in the fine print of the user agreement.)

The stakes get higher when you stop and think Google Assistant — and similar devices — aren’t just recording your grocery list. In fact, many of the leaked recordings contained personal addresses, phone numbers and the like — making it easy to identify the speaker.

A contractor told the Belgian network he transcribes about 1,000 audio clips from Google Assistant per week and in one clip “he heard a female voice in distress and said he felt that ‘physical violence’ had been involved,” The Verge says.

“And then it becomes real people you’re listening to, not just voices,” the contractor says.

Mind-blowing stuff.

A while ago, we (somewhat cheekily) asked how many readers cover their laptop cameras with electrical tape; today, we’re conducting another informal survey.

How many readers use these virtual assistant devices (i.e. the most popular Amazon Alexa, etc.)? Please explain why or why not?

Thanks for writing in.

Market Rundown for Fri. July 12, 2019

S&P 500 futures are up 5.28 to 3,005.

Oil’s holding steady at $60.20 for a barrel of WTI.

Gold is down $4.70 to $1,411.40 per ounce.

Bitcoin is up $338.70 to $11,682.

Have a great weekend. Check out Saturday’s best-of issue…

For the Rundown,

Aaron Gentzler

Aaron Gentzler

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Aaron Gentzler is the publisher of Seven Figure Publishing. He is also the editor of The Rundown. Aaron’s been with Agora Financial/Seven Figure Publishing for 13 years. He's been covering technology and markets for over a decade.

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