Pongo Points 1/25/24

Altman needs more chips | Bitcoin ETF attracts attention | AI Biden says "don't vote" | Circle to search with Google | World plan for electricity demand

1. OpenAI CEO Wants to Build Chip Factories

Why it’s interesting: Sam Altman, a founder and the current CEO of OpenAI, is seeking to raise billions of dollars to establish new AI chip manufacturing sites.

What stands out: Some congresspeople in the US have expressed concerns about possible connections to Chinese technology companies and funding partners, which might strain the effort.

What’s next: Semiconductor fabrication plants can cost billions to make and take years to develop before producing anything and, though Altman’s efforts are early, it suggests that existing foundries will not be sufficient to meet demand over the next 2-10 years.

2. Bitcoin Becomes Second Largest Commodity ETF

Why it’s interesting: Bitcoin is considered to be a commodity by the SEC, like gold or oil, and since the launch of the first spot Bitcoin ETFs, it has become the second largest commodity ETF group with over $27.9 billion in assets under management.

What stands out: This is not to say that Bitcoin ETFs saw billions of dollars of inflows since launch, as the $27.9 billion number largely due to Grayscale converting its GBTC trust into a spot ETF (which held $26 billion worth of Bitcoin prior to converting).

What’s next: Total net inflows into Bitcoin ETF products totaled around $1 billion as of January 25, 2024, suggesting there’s solid retail appetite despite Bitcoin’s lackluster performance this year.

3. Fake Biden Robocalls in New Hampshire

Why it’s interesting: New Hampshire residents received fake robocalls from an AI-recreation of the voice of Joe Biden, telling voters not to participate in the primary election.

What stands out: The calls were confirmed fake by the New Hampshire attorney general’s office, the White House, and researchers at UC Berkeley, but it’s unclear how many individuals were impacted by the malicious effort.

What’s next: With the availability of easy to use AI tools, including those that can recreate any voice with only a few recorded samples, 2024 is set to be an interesting year of elections, misinformation campaigns, and, hopefully, the rise of blockchain verification tools.

4. Google Launches “Circle to Search” on Android

Why it’s interesting: Google is releasing a multitude of finger gesture functions for Android phones that will unlock a new way for users to interact with their devices - powered by AI.

What stands out: While “circle to search” might seem like a relatively uncomplicated feature, it is an impressive feat for a device to identify the area the user is selecting, parse data clues from the selected area, and produce actionable and relevant results for the user.

What’s next: In the 1980s, the ability to “copy and paste” on computers changed how quickly we could communicate duplicate commands, and Google’s launch of “gesture to interact” might be the next fundamental shift in how humans interface with computers.

5. Emissions Fall as Adoption of Renewables and Nuclear Grows

Why it’s interesting: Renewable and nuclear energy are on track to provide over 50% of the world’s electricity supply by 2026, with nuclear becoming a growing source of reliability.

What stands out: AI, crypto, data centers, and electric vehicles are some of the major elements that are driving demand for electricity across the globe, with China expected to be the biggest contributor of this growth in demand.

What’s next: With the exception of Germany, nuclear energy is now viewed as an essential component of the transition away from fossil fuels by nearly every major economic power.

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