In today’s Exponential Investor…

  • Like a meal with an inmate
  • John Gotti says no way
  • We can all be Bob Smith

Good news folks.

That freshly poured pint at your local is ever so close again.

For some, you’ve quite possibly been allowed to nab a takeaway pint recently. But to step foot inside the local boozer? That’s a no-no.

But it looks like the tide is changing. In about ten days, we may once again be allowed to step inside, order a pint and even some tucker from the menu.

Oh how I’ve missed that.

I really miss a coldie after a round of golf with mates. That first pint never touches the sides. I was kind of hoping things might change immediately and we’d be able to visit the pub this week.

After all, Thursday is going to peak at over 30 degrees Celsius for most of the country. And if you’re still on furlough or finished up for the evening while the days are still long, that means one thing – pints in the sun!

Alas, even with the pub opening again in ten days, it’s not quite going to be the glorious return to the way it was just yet.

In fact, I fear that the pub experience for the short term will be ironically, isolating.

There’s now talk that even with reduced social distancing (I’m on record saying the two-metre social distancing thing is absolute bollocks) that we’ll still be segregated inside the pub.

I’m hearing everything from Perspex screens at the bar and even, get this, on the tables.

You’ll be allowed to sit with family at home and have a meal. But once you’re at a pub, it’ll be like having a chat with an inmate at HMP Oakwood.

The government is also considering forcing pubs, restaurants and cafes to record and lodge the details of everyone that comes in. This might sound like absolute insanity, but it wouldn’t be unique.

They’re already doing this in authoritarian Australia.

About ten days ago when it kicked off in Australia I asked a mate,

Am I right in reading you have to give a pub/club your contact details in order to sit and have a bloody beer?

His response,

“They’ve been doing that at cafes too. I’m Bob Smith of 18 F*** Off St. at all of them. Haha.”

Can’t blame him really. I’d do the same thing, albeit I’m sure he slightly extended the truth there. But to give some incorrect details just to step inside a pub, I don’t think that is really that big a problem.

Now plenty will disagree with me on this. But hear me out. You see there’s a bigger threat here than some incorrect information given at a pub.

There’s a threat bigger than Covid-19 that you’re not thinking about that you should be.

And it starts with a good old-fashioned “business lunch”.

Like WeWork, but more dangerous

The Blind Beggar in London is an infamous pub where the Kray twins used to frequent. And apparently was the location where Ronnie Kray shot and killed George Cornell.

Imagine the response had Ronnie and Reggie had to “log in” with their contact details every time they decided to step foot inside. Not only that, I reckon it’s reasonably safe to say that a fair bit of “business” was conducted at boozers all across London.

Rao’s restaurant in Harlem, New York, opened in 1896. It too become a notorious location for wiseguys and gangsters in the 20th century. It’s known that Lucky Luciano and John Gotti used to frequent Rao’s.

Imagine how Gotti would have responded had he needed to log his contact details when he decided it was time for a business meeting at Rao’s.

And do you think his “associates” would be all too willing to just hand over their information as well? Not only that can you picture them sitting behind Perspex screens to chow down and break bread?

I doubt it.

Now I wouldn’t have the foggiest about the organised crime syndicates today. But my guess is they too do a bit of business at pubs, cafes, restaurants, anywhere you can get a feed and a drink. The pub is a bit like a WeWork location for organised crime, just slightly more dangerous.

Of course a business meeting (for anyone) at a pub wasn’t unheard of before we all went into lockdown. And now coming out of it, you’d think once again these places would see the return of the booze business lunch.

Or, not so much.

You see there’s a bigger problem with the idea of prison-style lunch buffets at the local in ten days’ time.

And it’s one that people should really be worried about. There will be people who go to the pub or restaurant and if required will give real contact details not thinking twice about it.

But what happens with that information? The rhetoric is so the government can track and trace outbreaks of the virus. But the more likely outcome is that government or other state-backed organisations would look to access and comb that data.

Having to register at places like the pub, is more likely at veiled attempt to undergo mass surveillance of the community. And those who are known to the authorities are more closely monitored and tracked and traced along with those they’re hanging out with.

You can’t deny all this data on where people are, who they’re with and what they’re doing can be combed for information. Information that can be used against you.

I know if you’ve got diabetes

This is after all just another aspect of what most people call “big data”.

There have been studies conducted across the world where the movements of people in communities has been tracked and the data analysed. Researchers were able to accurately predict the likelihood of people with health conditions and what those health conditions were (such as diabetes).

All they needed was location information about where they were and how long they were there. Add in other data like money spent and times of the day they were anywhere and the data gets a lot more “rich”.

Once they start to know this about you, they can start to predict the behaviours. They can start to assess things like your health, risks, social circles, economic potential. It can all be used to paint a picture of you that you didn’t even know existed.

And if you think it’s bad now, then you should consider the pervasiveness data surveillance when we get hyper-connected networks driven by new technology like 5G.

That’s right, 5G does come with risk. In fact there’s a number of threats and risks about 5G technology that you’re not being told about .

It’s just the risks that get the headlines now aren’t even close to the real risks.

What people need to be conscious of in a hyper-connected world is the ability of attackers to launch all new kinds of attacks on networks, businesses, data centres (the cloud), economies and individuals.

The cyber threat doesn’t disappear with new networks and the tsunami of data that comes with that. The threat increases. And that’s a risk to you and me, and even to the modern-day gang lords and their associates.

The story this week might be pubs reopening, but the real story is about mass surveillance, the privacy of your data and who has (or wants) access to it. And you’ve got to fight tooth and nail to make sure it’s protected as it should be.

This is an issue that I think will become one of the most important topics in my lifetime. It’s gathering pace now, and there are ways to protect yourself and your data. That’s going to get harder with hyper-connected networks, but there will be pioneering companies that help us achieve that.

Some will be more “traditional” and some will come in the form of distributed, decentralised, cryptocurrency-backed networks. Which means the markets where investment opportunities will pop up are going to be widespread across all markets and the ones you also might not consider in the first instance.

So while we’re back off to the pub in about ten days’ time, it’s not quite as you might expect.

And if you trot off for a cheeky pint and you’re forced at the door to give some details, my suggestion would be to be “Bob Smith from 18 F*** Off Street” (or a more polite and believable representation of that) and just say that you left your ID at home if they ask for verification.

Although if you’re already a regular, known by first name, that might not fly. But good luck anyway!


Sam Volkering
Editor, Exponential Investor