Opposable thumbs are one of humanity’s greatest achievements. Although, I suppose you can’t really call them an achievement. They evolved all on their own.

Without opposable thumbs we wouldn’t be able to hit each other with clubs, button clothes, tie shoelaces, climb trees – basically do anything that requires dexterity or a strong grip.

We’d probably have to lose the moniker “hunter gatherers” as we would be able to neither hunt nor gather.

Today, you could get by without your thumbs, but in prehistoric times, you’d almost certainly have died.

Why am I writing about opposable thumbs? (Other than the fact Friends is now on Netflix and I have just re-watched “The one where Ross argues with Phoebe about evolution”.)

Because, you can now get a third, or even fourth, opposable thumb, if you really want.

Have a look at this video (click the picture to go to YouTube).

The idea behind the third thumb is to get people to think about prosthetics differently, according to its designer, Dani Clode. Not to see them as fixing something that’s broken, but as enhancing the wearer.

“Somehow we’ve transformed [prosthetics] into this idea of fixing or replacing the human . And that’s not what a prosthetic does.

“It extends the wearer’s ability. It extends the wearer’s self. It’s an addition to the ,” says Clode.

And how do you move it? With your toes. It has a Bluetooth receiver for sensors that are strapped to your big toes. You move it by moving them.

It seems like this could be a great invention for people who’ve suffered hand injuries. Or, just for people who want to be super dextrous.

Meet Flippy, the robot burger flipper

It doesn’t matter how many extra thumbs we strap on ourselves, though. We’ll never be as good at cooking burgers as “Flippy”.

Flippy is a robot designed with just one purpose: to flip burgers.

You can see the BBC’s video on it below (click to go to the video page)

After making its debut this month, it is being rolled out to 50 CaliBurger restaurants across California.

But behind the weird questions – like why is it wearing a chef’s sleeve when it’s a robot – there is real change happening here.

If you’ve been to McDonald’s recently, you’ll probably have noticed the self-service machines. They have now, in many locations, become more popular than ordering at the till.

Once the actual cooking can be done more efficiently by robots, as well as the taking of orders, we’ll see massive layoffs throughout the industry.

Burger flippers and long-haul lorry drivers are on the front end of the robot revolution. They will be the first industries to be hit with massive disruption. And this disruption is happening much faster than most people realise.

I wrote about the possible consequences and solutions to this situation in November. You can read my article here: Where’s my 15-hour work week?

Goldman Sachs buys crypto exchange (sort of)

Probably the biggest bit of crypto news to surface in the last couple of weeks is Square’s acquisition of crypto exchange Poloniex.

Why is this such a big deal? I’ll let a random Reddit member “bah-lock-ay” answer that question:

We are in the very beginning of the institutional phase. This isn’t quite the same as Goldman holding the keys directly, but it goes something like this: Goldman owns ~37% of Circle (a private company). Circle now owns Poloniex. Poloniex has multiple percents of major blockchains and tokens in their cold storage. Therefore Goldman now owns a major chunk of all crypto. I’m fairly shocked this part of it isn’t on full blast on Bloomberg. This is the first bull in the herd. Expect a few others to follow this year and possibly the whole herd. It’s so unbelievably huge.

This really is very big news for crypto. Institutional investors are coming, and they will bring huge amounts of money with them.

As Fortune reported:

The acquisition will instantly make Circle a rising threat to Coinbase, the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S., as well as Bittrex and Kraken, the runner-ups. Counting contributions from Poloniex, Circle’s revenues over the past three months, excluding February, exceeded $250 million, placing the company on an annual run rate greater than $1 billion. Not bad for a 5-year-old upstart.

So while you may hear the s of these institutions bashing crypto every day of the week, behind the scenes, they are buying it up. Make of that what you will.

Charlie Lee dumps Litecoin for Nano

Our good old Twitter favourite, Charlie Lee, has made another highly controversial tweet/investment.

In case you’re not aware, Lee is the founder of Litecoin – the world’s fifth biggest crypto.

Late last year, he got sick of being accused of market manipulation whenever he commented on anything and sold his entire stack of Litecoin. He managed to time this sell extremely well – selling at Litecoin’s all-time high.

Since then he has still not escaped the abuse as he is now accused of jumping ship, right before the great crypto crash of January 2018. And then last week, he made things even worse. He publically endorsed a rival crypto: Nano.

I have written quite a lot about Nano before. It’s a DAG-based crypto, which appears to be the perfect payment crypto. A few days before this tweet, Lee made a post on Nano’s Reddit asking some question about how it worked and got good answers direct from Colin LeMahieu – Nano’s creator and lead developer.

Then a couple of days later, Lee posted this tweet:

Charlie Lee tweet about nanoCharlie Lee tweet about nanoThat’s right. He dumped all his Litecoin at the all-time high and then bought into a young, promising rival a couple of months later.

After drawing the ire of many crypto fans, he posted this.

Charlie Lee tweetCharlie Lee tweetPersonally, I agree with this sentiment and hope Lee keeps making controversial decisions and then tweeting about them. At least he is interesting to follow.

That’s it for today.

Until next time,

Harry Hamburg
Editor, Exponential Investor

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