Emerging Technologies Highlights: Week of July 25, 2023
July 25, 2023
Emerging Technologies Highlights: Week of July 25, 2023
This week comes with a big announcement for the world of artificial intelligence (AI) and crypto, as well as some important regulatory developments.
Firstly, Sam Altman just launched his cryptocurrency project Worldcoin. The project's core offering is its World ID, which the company describes as a "digital passport" to prove that its holder is an actual human, not an AI bot. As AI gains impotence, this technology may prove central to how we authenticate ourselves online moving forward.
Second, seven leading companies in artificial intelligence have committed to certain guardrails following talks with Joe Biden. While this by no means constitutes a comprehensive regulatory framework, it does offer a temporary solution designed to appease the fears of regulators and the public.
Third, several major U.S. and international publishers are suing major artificial intelligence companies for using their content to train their generative AI models and seek new rules that govern such actions – the outcome of the lawsuit may reshape the future of the AI industry.
Lastly, the recent court ruling that Ripple’s XRP is not considered a security when sold on digital asset exchanges has sparked a wave of positive sentiment across the cryptocurrency ecosystem. As crypto becomes more and more unpopular with regulators, the decision will limit the grip of Washington on the industry, at least in the short term.
The bottom line: Worldcoin, a cryptocurrency project founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, launched on Monday. The project's core offering is its World ID, which the company describes as a "digital passport" to prove that its holder is an actual human, not an AI bot. To get a World ID, a customer signs up to do an in-person iris scan using Worldcoin's 'orb,' a silver ball approximately the size of a bowling ball. Once the orb's iris scan verifies the person is an actual human, it creates a World ID. The project has two million users from its beta period, and with Monday's launch, Worldcoin is scaling up "orbing" operations to 35 cities in 20 countries. As an enticement, those who sign up in certain countries will receive Worldcoin's cryptocurrency token WLD.
The bottom line: Seven leading companies in artificial intelligence have committed to managing risks posed by the tech, the White House has said. This will include testing the security of AI and publicizing the results of those tests. Representatives from Amazon, Anthropic, Google, Inflection, Meta, Microsoft, and OpenAI joined US President Joe Biden to make the announcement. It follows several warnings about the capabilities of the technology. The pace at which the companies have been developing their tools has prompted fears over the spread of disinformation, especially in the run-up to the 2024 US presidential election.
The bottom line: Several major US and international publishers are joining forces as part of an effort to sue major artificial intelligence companies for using their content to train their generative AI models and seek new rules that govern such actions. According to Semafor, The New York Times, News Corp, Axel Springer, Dotdash Meredith, owner IAC and others are forming a coalition to take on AI giants like Google and OpenAI.
The bottom line: Generative AI focuses us on those dimensions of human intelligence that generate new patterns of symbols — words, numbers, notes, images — from the recognition and distillation of existing patterns amid the billions of things that we “know.” The line between what can be generated and true creativity — the production of genuinely “new” ideas — is already being called into question. The scope and speed of processing power, another human brain capacity that machines can duplicate, is also under increased scrutiny.
The bottom line: The idea of new technologies taking over the world and subjugating humans has been floating around the cultural consciousness for at least the last couple hundred years. And while robot overlords—like the villain of the latest installment of Mission Impossible—might be sci-fi fodder, it cannot be denied that artificial intelligence and machine learning are developing fast, and it would behoove us to start thinking about the ethical implications of AI before we have a serious problem on our hands.
The bottom line: House Republicans are about to hand the cryptocurrency lobby a big win via legislation that would set up special rules for trading digital assets. There’s just one problem: A growing and bipartisan group of senators – including everyone from Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) to Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) – is rallying behind a crackdown that crypto firms hate following a wave of scandals and fears that digital currency is ripe for criminal abuse. They want to impose new safeguards designed to root out crypto’s use in money laundering.
The bottom line: The recent court ruling that Ripple’s XRP is not considered a security when sold on digital asset exchanges has sparked a wave of positive sentiment across the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Stuart Alderoty, chief legal officer at Ripple, told Cointelegraph that he believes the most important part of this ruling is that the court unequivocally said XRP is not, in and of itself, a security. Given this, Alderoty noted that the XRP ruling is now a matter of law and not up for trial.
The bottom line: Compared to two years ago, interest in the metaverse has been waning amongst tech giants. In the Middle East, however, the metaverse continues to be embraced by governments with enthusiasm. Israel has opened its first metaverse embassy in South Korea. Saudi Arabia has engaged with companies such as The Sandbox, planning long-term collaboration. Saudi Arabia has even opened the region’s first metaverse academy to provide training in the new technology. Scholars opine that NEOM, the planned smart city in Tabuk Province, is building “the first metaverse that actually is a metaverse.”
The bottom line: Futureverse, a crypto tech and gaming startup, has secured $54 million in Series A funding to support its expansion in the metaverse space. Futureverse said it plans to use the funds for research and development purposes, as well as to advance its gaming-focused blockchain, called The Root Network. "The metaverse has the potential to transform the way humans engage and collaborate with one another and improve our experiences across several different spheres, including gaming, payments, asset management, and more," Aaron McDonald and Shara Senderoff, co-founders of Futureverse, said in a statement.
The bottom line: Non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace OpenSea announced Thursday it's rolling out “Deals,” a peer-to-peer NFT swap function to help traders bolster their collections and engage with other collectors directly. OpenSea said in a tweet that Deals will allow collectors to trade NFTs with each other. OpenSea added that the product aims to make the NFT swapping trustworthy, fending off “sketchy DMs and websites” that many collectors fall victim to when trading NFTs.