1 – Oculus Investor Greg Castle Unveils $12 million Fund for VR, Self-Driving Cars, and More
Anorak Ventures’ Greg Castle, who got in early on Oculus, announced this week $12 million in seed funds for cutting-edge companies in the areas of VR, AR, autonomous vehicles, robotics, and pioneering innovations using AI and computer vision technologies. In an email to VentureBeat, Castle wrote,
“Over the next ten years these technologies will change our lives. I look for highly specialized teams solving tough problems in these exciting areas that will help bring these technologies to the masses.”
To date, Anorak has made investments in Simbe, Dishcraft, LoomAI, and an undisclosed VR company. Investor and Former Executive at EA Greg Richardson, as well as Singularity University’s Reese Jones, will both serve as advisors to the fund.
2 – Industry Leaders Establish Partnership On AI Best Practices
The anticipated union of top AI and related-technology players made formally debuted this week with the announcement of the launch of Partnership on AI (to benefit people and society), a nonprofit organization that will work for “advance public understanding of AI technologies and formulate best practices on the challenges and opportunities within the field.” Members include Amazon, DeepMind/Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft. Experts and relevant leaders in academics, nonprofits, and political entities will be invited to join the organization’s Board. Founding members will contribute both financial and research resources to further the entity’s goals, and will share leadership direction.
(Read the full press release at Partnership on AI)
3 – Orchestra Music Created with the Help of Artificial Intelligence
Technology and business consulting firm Accenture was behind the AI-inspired “Symphonologie” that debuted at the Louvre Pyramid in Paris last week. The musical project is meant to serve as a bridge that connects the abstract idea of AI and illustrates how it can be used in many different modalities in a broad range of domains. In explaining why the company chose this particular mode of communication, Group Chief Executive Mark Knickrehm stated,
“We realized that music cuts straight through the list – there are so many different cultures and spoken languages around the world and we quickly went to music as something that transcends culture.”
The final performance was a collaboration between man and machine that included analyzing words and sentiment in articles on business and technology, categorizing words according to sentiments, matching each emotion with a musical element, and then putting those files into the hands of a composer who arranged the AI-generated melodies. Data visualists created an accompanying visual presentation for a full multimedia experience. The futuristic performance is scheduled to soon go on a global tour.
(Read the full article at CBSNews)
4 – Algorithm Could Enable Visible-Light-Based Imaging for Medical Devices, Autonomous Vehicles
A team of researchers from MIT media lab have created an algorithmic approach that could be a seminal next step in creating next-generation medical-imaging and autonomous-vehicle-imaging systems. The “All Photons Imaging” (API) approach “recovers visual information” from light scattered as an effect of its environment. Using laser beams and a high-speed camera, the researchers have been able to successfully demonstrate light’s time of arrival by reconstructing an accurate image of a pattern cut into a “mask”, a thick sheet of plastic, and then a slab of material designed to mimic human tissue. Continuing to make innovations in this line of study is important, as information from light is much more true-to-life than that gathered through X-Rays or ultrasound waves, and it also allows for images to be better seen in ambiguous situations (i.e. fog or mist) – an existing problem for visioning systems in self-driving cars. The group published its results this week in Scientific Reports.
5 – IBM Unveils Industry’s First Platform to Integrate All Data Types for AI-Powered Decision-Making
On Wednesday, IBM introduced it’s data-driven, cloud-based platform, Project Dataworks, which integrates and streamlines the processing of different types of data (such as IoT, social media, enterprise databases, etc.) in one place. Core cognitive capabilities are part of the underlying solution, with cognitive-based machine learning in place to help escalate the discovery of patterns and models from data. According to IBM, the platform was designed using the same approach done with The Weather Company (an IBM business), which includes flexible data architecture, rapid digestion of many data sources (increased from 50 to hundreds of Gbps), and internet-scale data and analytics. The platform, which is available on IBM’s Bluemix, will likely be leveraged by data analysts and other professionals looking to connect various forms of data and gain insights to help improve customer experiences and transform business models.
(Read the full press release at IBM News)
Image credit: MIT News
Weekly Market Roundup: A Look into the Altcoins that Saw the Biggest Gains?
The digital currency industry in the past week came off with impressive price actions across the board. With Bitcoin (BTC) notably steering in the direction of the majority of the crypto ecosystem with its trading range of $43,591.32, and $48,791.78. The limited price surge of the premier cryptocurrency was perhaps stumped due to the protests in El Salvador, a trend that showed an internal rebuff for Bitcoin as a legal tender bill in the country.
Amidst the broad swing in the price-performance in the industry, many altcoins came off with good price marks, with Cosmos (ATOM), Audius (AUDIO), and Curve DAO Token (CRV) coming off printing the biggest gains in the trailing 7-day period.
Here is a brief overview of how they all performed;
The Cosmos (ATOM) is currently up by 27.86% in the past week, after recording its All-Time High (ATH) price of $44.11 today.
The Cosmos 7-day price chart as seen on CoinMarketCap shows a steady uptrend, sandwiched by a few lows at the beginning and middle of the week respectively. For the week, ATOM recorded as much as a $30.38 low, fueled by price consolidations amidst intermittent bullish buyups.
The ATOM accumulation is sustained as the Cosmos ecosystem is growing at a tremendous rate. Amongst the solutions it brings to the table is by connecting the fragmented blockchain protocols around today. This is one solution that is sure to push the growth of the fast-evolving digital currency ecosystem.
Audius has also had an impressive week with a total price gain of 20.05% for the past 7 days. Despite starting the week in red, it has notably attempted to retry the bullish surge which led to its bullish push toward its ATH of $4.99 back in May. At present, the coin is changing hands at $2.85, and the current growth being seen in its ecosystem is a sign that more bullish paths are ahead of the
Curve DAO Token (CRV)
The Curve DAO token surmounted a major price pitfall
for the week, stretching from September 13 to September 14. In that short time frame, the digital token recorded its lowest price of $2.06 for the week.
The token, riding on the strength of its DeFi offering has bounced back from this price slump and is currently trading at a price of $2.90. The coin is up 27.84% in the past week.
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DeFi has exploded by 800 percent but has a long way to go mainstream
- Decentralized finance is the investment and trading of assets in a distributed environment without a central entity
- Defi metrics include, On-chain cryptocurrency value received, On-chain retail value transferred, and Peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange trade volume
What is DeFi?
Decentralized Finance is a form of Finance that relies on blockchain forms or distributed systems and does not involve financial intermediaries. DeFi involves the trading and investment of digital assets. Since the rise of the cryptocurrency markets, DeFi has attempted to go mainstream in the finance sector. It has been to no avail, but the fruits were not wholly futile. More investors have embraced the digital way of trading.
In an attempt to measure the adoption of Decentralized Finance, the Global DeFi Adoption Index has compiled statistics that show an 880% increase in the usage of DeFi. Instead of using the volume of transactions and the number of assets being exchanged, the Global DeFi Adoption Index uses non-professional and small-scale crypto traders. They also consider ordinary activities like making payments and savings, not just trading, exchanges, and making speculations. By doing this, they not only focus on big economies and markets which have the upper hand in cryptocurrency.
The metrics used in measuring DeFi adoption are pretty diverse and involving. These include; On-chain cryptocurrency value received, On-chain retail value transferred, and Peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange trade volume. On-chain cryptocurrency value received consists of measuring the amount of cryptocurrency activity concerning the wealth of individual residents of the country. The on-chain retail value transferred is done by comparing cryptocurrency activity done by retail transactions (which are assumed to be worth below $10000) to the wealth of individual residents of the country.
Peer-to-peer exchange trade volume involves the measure of cryptocurrency exchanged from individual to individual. This takes into consideration the number of internet users. The wealth of individuals in a country is determined by Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) per capita.
When these metrics are used, both developed and emerging markets are considered. Comparing both, there is a spike in DeFi adoption in emerging markets. According to Chainalysis, out of 154 countries, Vietnam, India, Kenya, Ukraine, and Pakistan took the top 5 positions in terms of DeFi adoption. The main explanation of these emerging markets is that they limit traders on the amount of money they can move in and out of the country. Cryptocurrency gives them a limitless chance to move finances for their needs which have encouraged many investors to join in!
DeFi going mainstream
Whether DeFi becomes such a distinct phenomenon in the financial sector, it is still away from becoming mainstream. According to DeFi Llama, there is an increase in the total value locked in DeFi from $5b to $182.21b today. However, this does not take into consideration the individual crypto traders who are mainly small-scale. Some have not embraced it as others, like various retail traders, term it as sophisticated.
Apart from this, there have not been significant steps towards metaverse ETFs. Many investors have stood up for the idea, and investments are beginning to rise in the metaverse. However, it looks like an affair of the upper social class because it is yet to be adopted and accepted by small non-professional traders.
By comparing how far we have gone into the cryptocurrency trade and how close we are to making it mainstream financial markets. With some developed markets becoming reluctant on the cryptomarket with issues like the China crypto crackdown, it will take a while to become mainstream.
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Regulatory issues facing decentralized finance
- Decentralized Finance is a collective term for commodities offered on the blockchain
- Regulating DeFi is tough
What is Decentralized Finance (DeFi), and how does it work?
Decentralized Finance is a collective term for commodities offered in digital platforms without financial intermediaries in crypto markets. The absence of involvement of central financial intermediaries means that the digital platform is available for everyone and does not involve financial statements from institutions and blockchain.
With smart contracts instead of traditional financial statements, investors are at an advantage of borrowing, lending, and earning interest on digital assets invested using DeFi. Defi enables anybody to trade and invest in digital assets as long as one is connected to the internet.
Considering that the system is decentralized, regulating it is hard. Around $60b is locked in Decentralized Finance; hence, it is necessary to control the activities happening in the platform for the security of investors and their assets. However, unlike traditional forms of investment where the Finance is centralized, no statements are offered to prove the transaction. This is because the digital platforms do not fit the pract5icallity of traditional financial transactions.
Challenges faced when regulating DeFi
Classifying digital assets
Digital assets are available in different types and forms. They are the items traded in digital markets. Unlike fiat currency that deals with primarily tangible goods and services, digital assets are sold on digital platforms. Regulation of the same is paralyzed as they come in different forms.
Source of information
The digital world works indiscretion unlike traditional trading methods with intermediaries who keep records of transactions and activities. Most investors are reluctant about availing information about their dealings, mainly for security reasons. Information about a crypto coin and the transaction it undergoes remains with the user.
It works on a decentralized network
One thing that makes digital assets very unique is that it is not bound to geographical borders. The decentralized system works globally. Because different financial institutions operate on different legal regimes, DeFi cripples regulation as it is subject to none of those. In a centralized network, there is a regulated financial system which is not so with DeFi.
Anonymity in cryptocurrency trading may lead to fraud and theft. Anonymous investors in DeFi work both as an advantage and disadvantage. As traders wish to remain discrete with their transactions, opportunists grab this opportunity to participate in criminal activities as tracking them is complex, and there is no regulatory board on the same yet.
Use of smart contracts
As smart contracts are run and functioned by codes and algorithms, it is difficult to tell what is entailed in one. They are unique and automated to suit the terms of the buyer and seller of digital assets. Since they are encoded, regulating them will be hard. They ensure the smooth running of activities with AI controlling the terms and regulations governing each of them.
It is easier for regulatory bodies to govern activities with an intermediary so that every action is recorded. This is not so with DeFi. As much as they try to develop a standard regulatory body, it will be hard since the cryptocurrency field is diverse.
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