August 21, 2023

Emerging Technologies Highlights: Week of Aug 22, 2023

This week brings major news for emerging technologies. 

The Metaverse, once thought dead and buried, is back in full force with a 500 million Euros investment by Siemens, $54 million in funding for Metaverse giant Futureverse, and a new report predicting the Metaverse market to be worth $815 billion by 2030. 

Smart cities are also making waves: Oman has unveiled ambitious plans for a new 100,000-person “smart” city outside its capital, and the Wall Street Journal published a story about New Rochelle’s housing developments. 

Finally, three significant items for the artificial intelligence (AI) industry: a court just ruled that artworks created solely by AI are not eligible for copyright protection, a Chinese company has launched a satellite that has powerful artificial intelligence at its core, and the UK will spend £100m to produce AI-focused computer chips. While the court decision is a major setback for digital creators, these massive investment announcements show that the international AI race is only beginning.

All in all, these developments point to a period of rapid innovation after some months of doubt. The AI wave has re-stimulated the tech industry, and other verticals, such as crypto and the metaverse, are coming back in full force.


The bottom line: Siemens plans to invest about one billion Euros in Germany, including about 500 million Euros in a new technology campus in Erlangen. The campus will be the center for technology activities related to the Industrial Metaverse. The investments are part of Siemens AG's global investment strategy. A total of two billion euros will be invested in Europe, the United States, China and Southeast Asia.

The bottom line: Futureverse, a leading enterprise in artificial intelligence (AI) and metaverse technology and content, recently raised $54 million in a Series A funding round. The round was spearheaded by 10T Holdings, with contributions from Ripple Labs. Through the consolidation of 11 metaverse infrastructures and content firms into a unified ecosystem, Futureverse offers crucial elements for the development of any metaverse application. Simultaneously, it sustains one of the world's largest digital collectible communities.

The bottom line: Some of the major factors driving the growth of this market are the increasing demand for metaverse in the entertainment and  gaming industry, rising government initiatives and investment in the metaverse, and growing adoption of metaverse to enhance customer experience. In addition, the rising adoption of virtual experiences in corporate and hospitality sectors and the growing need for metaverse in education and training are expected to provide opportunities for market growth.

The bottom line: Oman has unveiled ambitious plans for a new 100,000-person “smart” city outside its capital, Muscat. Set across 14.8 square kilometers (5.7 square miles), Sultan Haitham City will be roughly equivalent in size to Beverly Hills — but with almost three times as many residents. The plan includes 20,000 homes, a university, schools, health facilities, and mosques. It is due to be built on a largely undeveloped site in Al-Seeb, several kilometers west of Muscat.

The Wall Street Journal, The Suburb That Defied Nimby

The bottom line: American suburbs have struggled with red tape and community opposition to plans for more housing. One New York City suburb has successfully navigated these obstacles to ramp up the construction of new downtown housing. The Westchester County City of New Rochelle has added about 2,500 apartment units over the past eight years, following a period of hardly any new multifamily supply. In all, this city of 82,000 has approved the construction of 6,300 apartment units across 30 real-estate projects near the New Rochelle train station, which is about a 40-minute ride to Manhattan.

The bottom line:  There is much about AI we don’t know, but AI experts do agree on one thing: The pace of AI’s disruption of society will never be this slow again. Unfortunately, one branch of AI is lagging: the field known as AI safety. AI safety addresses a wide variety of potential AI risks: accidents, questions of ethics, cybersecurity, military security, misinformation, election disruption, and more. Despite the efforts of a growing number of prominent researchers and considerable investment by AI companies, AI safety proceeds far more slowly than AI itself.

The bottom line: In a recent court decision, United States District Judge Beryl Howell upheld the stance of the US Copyright Office that artworks created solely by AIare not eligible for copyright protection. This verdict came amid growing worries about the possibility of generative AI replacing human artists and writers.

The bottom line: A Chinese company has launched a satellite with powerful artificial intelligence at its core, aiming to create a self-controlled spaceship. The WonderJourney-1A, or WJ-1A, which blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in Inner Mongolia earlier this month, has an onboard intelligent processing unit known as the String Edge AI Platform.

The bottom line: The UAE Ministry of Justice announced in its 2023 digitization report that by 95% of court cases were conducted remotely utilizing blockchain technologies and video communications. In addition, all marriage services were completed digitally. The ministry introduced a digital system that can issue powers of attorney in less than 10 minutes without human involvement.

The bottom line: The government will spend £100m to try to win a toe-hold for the UK in the global race to produce computer chips to power artificial intelligence. Taxpayer money will be used as part of a drive to build a national AI resource in Britain, similar to those under development in the US and elsewhere. It is understood that the funds will be used to order key components from major chipmakers Nvidia, AMD, and Intel.

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