September 12, 2023

Emerging Technologies Highlights: Week of Sept 12, 2023

This week’s highlights reflect the ever-expanding impact of artificial intelligence (AI). First, Congress is organizing a first-of-its-kind gathering on Capitol Hill, where some of the most influential figures in Big Tech, including Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates, will come to deliberate on the regulation of AI. This closed-door summit, led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, reflects the growing concern among lawmakers. Meanwhile, at the G20 meeting, global leaders recently advocated the swift implementation of a cross-border framework for crypto assets, underscoring the need for coordinated global standards and regulatory measures. 

Also significant for the world of AI, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is spearheading its own AI initiative, aiming to develop an AI system that rivals OpenAI's ChatGPT. Meta's ambition to produce a more potent AI model promises to further accelerate the evolution of AI-powered applications, from advanced text analysis to multifaceted output generation.

This week also comes with a significant technology partnership, with the United States and Vietnam forging multibillion-dollar deals involving corporate giants like Boeing, Microsoft, and Nvidia. These partnerships, driven by the desire to counter China's growing influence, extend to the realms of cloud computing, semiconductor supply chains, and AI intelligence, reflecting the pivotal role that technology now plays in geopolitics. At the forefront of this development is Nvidia - the company's graphics processing units (GPUs), such as the A100 and H100, have become indispensable tools for AI development, underlining the integral role of hardware in shaping AI capabilities.

Meanwhile, China is making significant strides in the digital realm as it charts a strategic course toward developing a domestic metaverse. The Chinese government wants to build "three to five metaverse companies with global influence" by 2025, leveraging emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain, and virtual reality. A People's Court in China also ruled that virtual assets possess legal properties protected by law, challenging prevailing notions amid a broader crackdown on foreign digital assets in the country.


The bottom line: Congress turns its attention to AI this week as some of the most high-profile names in Big Tech descend on Capitol Hill for a first-of-its-kind gathering to brainstorm ways lawmakers can regulate the fast-moving technology that experts have warned could lead to human extinction. In a closed-door meeting Wednesday, all 100 senators will hear from Elon Musk, who bought Twitter and rebranded it X; Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg; Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates; Sam Altman, the CEO of ChatGPT company OpenAI; and a host of other prominent tech leaders for what Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has dubbed his inaugural AI Insight Forum.

The bottom line: The parent of Facebook and Instagram is working on a new AIsystem intended to be as powerful as the most advanced model offered by OpenAI, the Microsoft -backed startup that created ChatGPT, according to people familiar with the matter. Meta aims for its new AI model, which it hopes to be ready next year, to be several times more powerful than the one it released just two months ago, dubbed Llama 2. The planned system, details of which could still change, would help other companies to build services that produce sophisticated text, analysis, and other output.

The bottom line: The US and Vietnam have agreed to billions of dollars in business deals and partnerships led by companies including Boeing, Microsoft, and Nvidia, after the former foes upgraded their ties in a historic shift in response to China’s growing influence. US President Joe Biden hailed the move to strengthen cooperation in areas including cloud computing, semiconductors, and AI while in Hanoi on a two-day trip to mark the formal upgrading of the countries’ relationship. “We’re deepening our co-operation on critical and emerging technologies, particularly around building a more resilient semiconductor supply chain,” said Biden in a joint press conference late on Sunday.

The bottom line: It’s not often that the jaws of Wall Street analysts drop to the floor, but late last month, it happened: Nvidia, a company that makes computer chips, issued sales figures that blew the street’s collective mind. It had pulled in $13.5bn in revenue in the last quarter, which was at least $2bn more than the aforementioned financial geniuses had predicted. Suddenly, the surge in the company’s share price in May that had turned it into a trillion-dollar company made sense. This time, AI is a new gold rush centered on AI– and Nvidia’s A100 and H100 GPUs are the picks and shovels.

The bottom line: China has set out an action plan for developing a domestic metaverse, which includes cultivating “three to five metaverse companies with global influence” by 2025 through the development of  AI, blockchain, and virtual reality (VR) technologies.According to the policy document published on Friday by five Chinese ministries led by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), China aims to build “three to five industrial clusters” around emerging technologies by 2025 with key breakthrough applications and governance for the conceptual next-generation internet made up of three-dimensional spaces.

The bottom line:  It’s possible we’re at the dawn of an incredible era of toolmaking, with the emergence of ChatGPT marking a Kubrickian cut between our bone-throwing present and an awesome future. AI tools are already predicting the spread of infectious diseases, detecting guns in schools, helping the speechless speak, and slashing energy consumption. There are brilliant people who say this is kid stuff. Soon, everyone will have a customized knowledge assistant. The elimination of drudgery and loneliness is coming. Climate change can be mitigated. Rare diseases are on the clock. But other equally brilliant people go straight to “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

The bottom line: Leaders of the 20 biggest economies in the world — collectively known as G20 — are pushing for a speedy implementation of a cross-border framework for crypto assets.  “We call for the swift implementation of the Crypto-Asset Reporting Framework (CARF) and amendments to the CRS [Common Reporting Standard]. We ask the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes to identify an appropriate and coordinated timeline to commence exchanges by relevant jurisdictions,” stated a consensus declaration signed by G20 leaders.

The bottom line: In his remarks at the G20 meeting, Modi described cyber security and cryptocurrencies as among the burning issues affecting the present and future of the world. Cryptocurrency is a new subject for social order and monetary and financial stability, he said, seeking the development of global standards to regulate it. Cyberspace has emerged as a new source of funding for terrorism, and global cooperation and framework are necessary for securing it, he said. "This is a very important subject for every country's security and prosperity," he added.

The bottom line: Animoca Brands, a metaverse and gaming venture capital firm, has raised $20 million to advance its Mocaverse project from a group of other prominent Web3 investors. Animoca Brands has been one of the leading investors in NFTs, blockchain gaming, and metaverse-related companies in recent years, with backing from the likes of Singapore's state investment fund, Temasek. Animoca aims for Mocaverse to provide Web3-native tools for users to build gaming and other entertainment products. One such product under development is Moca ID, a non-fungible token (NFT) collection designed to allow users to craft on-chain identities in order to participate in the Metaverse ecosystem.

The bottom line: A People’s Court in China published a report on the legality of virtual assets, analyzing the criminal law attributes of these digital assets. The court noted in its report that virtual assets under the current legal policy framework are still legal property and protected by law. The report titled “Identification of the Property Attributes of Virtual Currency and Disposal of Property Involved in the Case” acknowledged that virtual assets have economic attributes and thus can be classified as property, reported a local daily. Although China has deemed all foreign digital assets illegal by imposing a blanket ban, the report argues that virtual assets held by individuals should be considered legal and protected by law under the current policy framework.

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