August 7, 2023

Emerging Technologies Highlights: Week of Aug 8, 2023

Most of this week’s articles cover a part of the industry media has largely ignored in recent months: the metaverse. After AI started to dominate the news, virtual and augmented reality faded into the background. Yet a few developments are putting the metaverse back on the map. 

First, Apple is announcing an “alliance” with Pixar, Adobe, Autodesk, and Nvidia to develop tools that make creating 3D content easier. Secondly, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy just announced a metaverse charity soccer match to raise funds for the war-ravaged nation. Third, new studies show that students and teachers are eager to see the metaverse play a more important role in education. Lastly, Brookings just published a report showing that the combination of AI and the metaverse has significant implications for the internet of tomorrow. Together, these developments remind us that, whether in the news or not, the metaverse ecosystem is still worth watching.

Meanwhile, PayPal is taking another step into the crypto industry, rolling out its very own stablecoin called PayPal USD, as Coinbase asks a judge to dismiss the Securities and Exchange Commission case against its marketplace. Depending on the regulatory framework that emerges from the lawsuit, new adopters like Paypal could provide increased credibility and reach to the crypto industry.

While this week is not as rich in AI news as last week, two items stand out:  

  • Gary Gensler, the chairman of the S.E.C., just did an in-depth interview with the New York Times about his worries concerning AI. 

  • The White House is gathering thousands of hackers in one city with the sole aim of trying to trick and find flaws in AI models. 

These two developments show the fear of regulators, who are willing to use increasingly innovative methods to think about AI policy – these experiments may well prove successful.


The bottom line: After the release of Apple’s Vision Pro headset, the company is looking to developers to build 3D content. The Alliance for OpenUSD — a group formed by Apple, Pixar, Adobe, Autodesk, and Nvidia — aims to standardize and develop a technology that lets developers move their work across a world of 3D creation tools, making it much easier for developers to build 3D experiences for everything from VFX and animation (where it’s already been widely adopted) to gaming, VR, and metaverse applications.

The bottom line: In an innovative move, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced “Game4Ukraine,” a charity soccer match that aims to raise funds for rebuilding the war-ravaged nation by embracing the metaverse. The real-world celebrity exhibition match is scheduled to take place on Saturday, August 5, at London’s historic Stamford Bridge stadium. This event presents a unique opportunity for fans to contribute to a noble cause while enjoying a captivating soccer spectacle.

The bottom line: Is the educational community prepared to embrace the metaverse? The study indicates that 75% of teachers and 60% of students state that they have no educational experience using this technology. Despite this lack of experience, the research reveals that almost 45% of the teachers interviewed and nearly 40% of the students are curious to learn more about the metaverse, how it works and how it differs from other technological strategies.

The bottom line: The internet as we know it is changing. New web3 tools and platforms are arising that harness blockchain, NFTs and cryptocurrency. And thanks to metaverse technologies, online experiences are fast becoming much more immersive and realistic. In this new internet, web3, and metaverse technologies will transform how we engage with our favorite artists, musicians and sports stars. Music is one creative industry that’s already being disrupted by metaverse and web3 technologies. Here are four major shifts taking place in the world of music.

The bottom line: The Metropolitan Museum of Art is edging closer to the metaverse in a bid to shake up the museum-going experience. The museum announced today that it has partnered with telecommunications company Verizon to launch Replica. This new app allows users to engage with art from its collections in virtual space. The app can be used with Roblox, the popular gaming platform, where a new virtual version of the Met can be explored, including spaces like its Fifth Avenue façade and its Great Hall.

The bottom line:  With the explosive popularity of ChatGPT and other generative AI technologies, the allure of the metaverse might seem like a receding memory. However, away from the spotlight of the public and regulators, the vision of an immersive digital reality is still being relentlessly pursued worldwide. Various companies are heavily investing in and building initiatives related to augmented and virtual realities, ranging from fashion to healthcare.

The bottom line: PayPal is taking another step into the crypto industry, rolling out its very own stablecoin called PayPal USD. Issued by Paxos Trust Co., the dollar-pegged stablecoin is expected to become "a part of the overall payments infrastructure," PayPal CEO Dan Schulman told Bloomberg. PayPal USD is backed by short-term treasuries, dollar deposits, and cash equivalents, per the firm's announcement. The token will be issued on the Ethereum network as an ERC-20 token.

The bottom line: Coinbase asked a judge to dismiss the Securities and Exchange Commission case against it, alleging the regulator is stepping well outside of its jurisdiction in suing the crypto exchange. "The transactions over Coinbase’s platform and Prime are not, and do not involve, contractual undertakings to deliver future value reflecting the income, profits, or assets of a business. They are commodity sales, with the obligations on both sides discharged entirely the moment the digital token is delivered in exchange for payment," the filing said.

The bottom line: Gary Gensler, the chairman of the S.E.C., has been studying the potential consequences of artificial intelligence for years. The recent proliferation of generative AI tools like ChatGPT has demonstrated that the technology is set to transform business and society. In 2020, Mr. Gensler co-wrote a paper concluding that just a few AI. companies will build the foundational models that underpin the tech tools that lots of businesses will come to rely on.

The bottom line: What happens when thousands of hackers gather in one city with the sole aim of trying to trick and find flaws in AI models? That is what the White House wants to know.This week at the world's largest annual hacker convention - Def Con 31 in Las Vegas -  big tech are opening up their powerful systems to be tested side by side for the first time.

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