Blimps and child traders

UK Uncensored: brought to you by Exponential Investor

In today’s issue…

  • Two things that grind my gears
  • Fast innovation, slow transport
  • YouTubers to crypto traders

It’s now been about 16 months since I was last on a plane. That’s the longest stretch I’ve ever gone without flight in what’s probably the better part of 20 years.

There are two things about this fact that grind my gears.

  1. It reinforces the authoritarian regime we live in. Regardless of the democracy we’re told we have, it’s really state ruled with an iron fist.
  2. Environmentalists claim this is a win for their cause. That’s fine, less planes means less pollution, sure, but don’t claim this as a win. You did nothing to achieve this.

My view on the long-term outcome for global aviation is simple. It will come back, full force and we’ll forget about this period of time very quickly.

It won’t be too long now until everything is back at full capacity and the airlines again are flying (in every sense of the word).

However, what the aviation market looks like in another ten years from now might be very different to what you might think.

Even before the pandemic hit and countries went into self-imposed shutdown the aviation industry was innovating at great speed.

For an industry that has very long periods of innovation, the change that seemed to be on its way was impressive.

The last time I was on a plane was heading out to CES, a giant consumer technology show in Las Vegas. Far and away the headline act was the myriad of flying taxi concepts and prototypes on display.

A giant Hyundai and Uber flying taxi was suspended above our heads with the rotos spinning – quite the sight to behold. It seemed that companies were going full throttle towards flying taxis in urban areas.

That may still pan out in the next few years. In fact, I see it now as an inevitability as people shun sardine-packed public transport for more personal transport with not so many people in your personal space.

That means personal cars, flying taxis and self-driving car networks all have a very bright future… but more on that in the coming weeks.

But innovation in aviation wasn’t constrained to flying taxis. There were a number of companies looking to bring back supersonic flight. Recently one of those, Aerion, shut down as it was struggling to get the funding needed to bring its concept to production.

Not to worry, you expect these kinds of failures in such a capital-intensive industry. Ultimately there is still lots of development pushing for supersonic travel, such as Boom Supersonic, which is developing supersonic propulsion systems with backing from Rolls-Royce.

But what if the future of aviation isn’t future tech, but past tech? What if it’s not supersonic, but barely sonic?

I quite like the idea of slowly meandering along the countryside, a couple of hundred metres above the ground, watching the world pass by. Not in a plane, not in a helicopter, but in an airship… otherwise known as a blimp.

The good thing about airships is that they’re quiet, can take off vertically, and are also significantly better for the environment than plane travel.

There’s also a mystique about an airship that throws you back to days gone by. It’s old tech, for a modern world. And it may be the future of domestic air travel.

Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) is developing airships to cover shorter routes, such as Liverpool to Belfast, or Vancouver to Seattle.

HAV’s Airlander 10 airship, it explains,

… will be available with up to 100 seats in a hybrid-electric configuration from 2025, operating with 90% fewer emissions than conventional aircraft in similar roles. The aircraft will be offered in a fully electric configuration by 2030.

The concept designs are quite something. You can check them out here.

I like this. It’s not technology to make things faster and get us around quicker. Quite the opposite. It’s a calmer, more serene way to travel. Sure, it might take longer than a plane, but for me, it would be nicer, and it does end up being better for the environment.

While people get worked up about flying taxis, I think the things we’re likely to see first available for commercial passenger flight will be the airship. I can’t wait.

The real future of crypto

I had a subscriber write in to me recently about a “watershed” moment he had regarding cryptocurrency.

He was driving his 15-year-old and their friends home from football practice. He noticed they had begun talking about cryptocurrencies. He listened, keen to hear what they would say.

Interestingly they began talking about trading and how easy it looked to make money. And that while they perhaps had wanted to become YouTubers in the future, now they were talking about making a living crypto trading in the future.

Now on first glance you might think this is terrifying. Aspects of it are. Those aspects being the incredible number of falsehoods and misinformation available online on platforms like YouTube and TikTok.

No doubt the kids have seen the idiot YouTubers and TikTokers claiming to be making all this money crypto trading. That’s a worry, because most of them don’t make money and their videos are just for clicks and likes, not to actually help anyone other than themselves.

However, the bigger picture here is that for kids today, their world is one where crypto exists. Where they will grow up and learn about it as a natural, regular part of their experience with global finance.

In my time, it was coins and cash in a piggy bank. People used cheques, we checked stock prices in the newspaper. And… I’m not that old, still being sub-40.

But for the next generations, they’ll grow up with crypto apps, bitcoin wallets, fintech and trading information being available 24/7, all year round.

They will be more financially literate because they have access to more information. What’s needed is to ensure they get the quality information, and they learn and don’t get sucked into the endorphin-stimulating nonsense from social media.

But their future is one of computer science, cryptography, distributed systems design, a world of crypto-start-ups and remote working.

The impact of crypto isn’t just on today or tomorrow, but 10, 20, 30… 100 years from now. It’s a multi-generational shift of power, information and resources. It’s world changing and it’s something that we all have a responsibility to educate our kids about.

The future of crypto is really in their hands, not ours.


Sam Volkering
Editor, Exponential Investor

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