Deepfake voice NFTs. AI gets jokes. EU apes China.
Future Forward. April 5, 2022 edition.
Each week, I share the most important news in Web3, AI, the pseudonymous economy & the forces shaping the future of humanity.
The Pseudonymous Economy
Practically-useful voice changing is critical infrastructure for the pseudonymous economy. Not an easy problem, especially when you need deep learning to work real-time in an unconstrained consumer environment!
But they are not the first to tackle voice-to-voice transformation:
Modulate.ai tried this a few years ago as a B2B SDK for gaming, then pivoted
Team is solid––the CTO used to work on Alexa voices at Amazon––and EF has a very strong track record of incubating good companies. At my old job, I did a bunch of analyses on incubator portfolios and their’s was one of the best in the world.
If you’re an investor, they’re worth tracking. HMU if you want an intro. 💸
Google just launched an NLP model called PaLM that’s even bigger than GPT-3 and actually groks humor. This shows that verbal intelligence is generalizing.
I expect progress to continue as well-funded AI labs throw ever-increasing amount of compute at the problem. Much to the delight of chipmaker NVIDIA, I am sure.
Lived experience is continuous, but you brain organizes memories as discrete events. From the paper in Nature Neuroscience:
These findings reveal a neuronal substrate for detecting cognitive boundaries that transform experience into mnemonic episodes and structure mental time travel during retrieval.
Fascinating how our mind works! As humanity furiously works to replicate itself inside a computer, I suspect that findings like this will inspire future AI research.
Google finally ships an actual driverless car, at least for employee use. Personally, I’d still bet on Cruise. They are much hungrier.
Long term though, this all becomes a commodity. But will take a while.
US airspace regulations that grandfather in old planes without location transponders make this a much harder problem than it should be. This interview with the founder of Zipline explains the problem really well. Kind of shocking, frankly.
This is good news for Web3. Twitter already launched a dedicated crypto team in November.
Hopefully Elon can do his magic at Twitter. Will be interesting to see what comes of this!
He makes quite an interesting argument, actually.
We live in a dangerous world, and protecting freedom is serious business
Currency is not "just the first app". It's by far the most successful one.
Focusing exclusively on being money makes for better money
In general, the earliest projects in an industry are the most "genuine"
Intolerance is good
Weird crusades against seed oils are good
Be a maximalist
His final section is worth quoting in (almost) full:
Be a maximalist
Maximalism is often derided in the media as both a dangerous toxic right-wing cult, and as a paper tiger that will disappear as soon as some other cryptocurrency comes in and takes over Bitcoin's supreme network effect. But the reality is that none of the arguments for maximalism that I describe above depend at all on network effects. Network effects really are logarithmic, not quadratic: once a cryptocurrency is "big enough", it has enough liquidity to function and multi-cryptocurrency payment processors will easily add it to their collection.
Crypto-assets like Bitcoin have real cultural and structural advantages that make them powerful assets worth holding and using.
Maximalism is not just Bitcoin-for-the-sake-of-Bitcoin; rather, it's a very genuine realization that most other cryptoassets are scams, and a culture of intolerance is unavoidable and necessary to protect newbies and make sure at least one corner of that space continues to be a corner worth living in.
It's better to mislead ten newbies into avoiding an investment that turns out good than it is to allow a single newbie to get bankrupted by a grifter.
It's better to make your protocol too simple and fail to serve ten low-value short-attention-span gambling applications than it is to make it too complex and fail to serve the central sound money use case that underpins everything else.
And it's better to offend millions by standing aggressively for what you believe in than it is to try to keep everyone happy and end up standing for nothing.
Be brave. Fight for your values. Be a maximalist.
“Forgive them father, for they know not what they do.”
📥 ballot box
🏛 In courts
Lawmakers are deciding the course of our future right now and they don't even know it. They think dealing with obscure technical details, not the future of human freedom.
The CCP is limiting virtual tipping of live-streaming hosts and time spent by young people on live-streaming apps. If only Mao had the great firewall.
Aside: If you’re interested in China, this interview with Marko Papic on Invest Like the Best is really good.
The three traps of China, one, it won't become energy efficient for the next decade. Two, over the next decade it's going to have to double down on exports and investment. And three, it's going to have to eventually depend on investors listening to this conversation giving them money.
A country that's not energy independent, that depends on exports and manufacturing growth, and depends on foreign capital is not a country that invades or is aggressive geopolitically. It's a country that's actually quite pacified. They're still going to be a power and they're still going to be a rival of the US, but I actually think that they are quite trapped.
Probably a good thing. Definitely better than banning wallets.