Pongo Points 1/4/24

Chinese cars run on sodium | Fred Wilson foretells tech in 2024 | Vitalik Buterin talks the future of Ethereum | SBF won't face trial for political donations | Steamboat Willie goes public domain

1. Chinese Car Firm Release First Mass-Produced Sodium-Ion Battery Powered Car

Why it’s interesting: The Yiwei EV is a joint-venture between the Chinese state and Volkswagen and is expected to have around 157 mile range when delivered later this month.

What stands out: The Yiwei will use a battery developed by HiNA Battery Technology Company, a spinoff company of the premier Chinese technology research organization, that has slightly lower energy density than the latest sodium-ion batteries developed.

What’s next: Sodium-ion batteries will prove essential in developing lower cost electric vehicles and general purpose energy storage, with Chinese firms currently leading in research and development.

2. Fred Wilson on 2024 in Tech

Read it on AVC here: What Will Happen In 2024

Why it’s interesting: Legendary venture capital investor Fred Wilson outlines his top themes for 2024 in technology, with AI and web3 becoming more mainstream.

What stands out: While many governments around the world seem hesitant of crypto, Wilson believes that 2024 will become the pivotal year where regulators come to terms with web3 and the development of decentralized systems.

What’s next: AI was a major theme in tech in 2023, though it might encounter some headwinds in light of the latest NYT lawsuit against OpenAI; conversely, crypto might finally shed legal headwinds just as the next Bitcoin halving occurs this April.

3. Vitalik Buterin on His Hopes for Ethereum

Read it on Vitalik’s website here: Make Ethereum Cypherpunk Again

Why it’s interesting: As competitor projects like Solana and Avax gained popularity over the last couple of months, Ethereum was viewed as “ossified” and lacking meaningful updates or direction - a notion Vitalik is quick to dispel in this note.

What stands out: The Ethereum co-founder outlines a technology stack for Ethereum and how it compares to the “traditional” technology stack that most of us use today, suggesting that he believes most technologies will shift to a decentralized system.

What’s next: Buterin calls out “degen gamblers,” or people who joined crypto to get rich quick, but remains hopeful that at least some of them might eventually believe in the “quest to build a more open and decentralized world.”

4. Prosecutors Drop Plans for SBF’s Second Trial

Why it’s interesting: The US government is expected to drop additional charges against SBF to “advance the public’s interest in a timely and just resolution of the case.”

What stands out: The charges being dropped include unlawful campaign contributions, conspiracy to bribe foreign officials, and other acts that tie SBF’s wrongdoings to various politicians and government officials.

What’s next: Many in the crypto space have decried the dropping of these charges, with Coinbase’s chief legal office calling it a “miscarriage of justice” that “fuels public cynics about the politics” of the SBF/FTX ordeal.

5. Steamboat Willie Hits Public Domain with Flood of Adaptations

Why it’s interesting: US copyright laws permit licenses to be held for up to 95 years, so Disney’s earliest version of Mickey Mouse (known as “Steamboat Willie”) has entered the public domain as of January 1, 2024.

What stands out: A number of adaptations of Steamboat Willie have already hit the market in anticipation of the copyright expiry, including video games, NFT projects, and more.

What’s next: While a number of opportunists have launched projects to capitalize on Disney losing its copyright, it will be interesting to see if and how Disney will enforce its rights with other Mickey Mouse adaptations.

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