Pongo Points 2/8/24

Indonesia increases emissions to save the planet | Bitcoin vs. Utah | What is post-crypto? | Fake AI CFO scams company for millions | Biden's overreach in AI

1. How EV Adoption Exacerbates Emissions in Indonesia

Why it’s interesting: Indonesia is one of the world’s largest nickel suppliers, accounting for nearly half of global stock, and has been making big pushes to vertically integrate itself into electric vehicle battery production.

What stands out: While nickel is a major element used in electric vehicle batteries, it isn’t unique: Major automakers are seeking alternative elements for batteries due to the dirty nature of nickel smelting, which currently relies on coal to operate.

What’s next: Indonesia has successfully built out much of its nickel processing capacity, but still lacks the vertical integration it hopes to capitalize upon for the coming electric vehicle revolution.

2. Bitcoin Draws More Energy…Comparisons

Read it on Bloomberg here: US Bitcoin Miners Use as Much Electricity as Everyone in Utah

Why it’s interesting: The US Energy Information Administration released an analysis that suggests Bitcoin mining operations use approximately as much electricity as the entire state of Utah.

What stands out: While anti-crypto activists often cite reports like these, they do not take caution to determine the energy mix used (i.e. are Bitcoin miners using solar energy or fossil fuels?) or compare it to similar use cases (e.g. how much electricity do Google’s data centers use?).

What’s next: Each side of the Bitcoin mining electricity debate is likely to continue with its existing arguments: Detractors will cite emissions and grid strain, while advocates reference grid stabilization and sustainable energy subsidy.

3. Metalabel on Going “Post-Crypto”

Read it on Google Docs here: Climbing out of the rabbit hole

Why it’s interesting: Metalabel, a prominent creativity think-tank and digital creative space, discusses the thought of being “post-crypto,” or having crypto/web3 become an enhancing tool for individuals rather than a product in itself.

What stands out: The essay goes on to describe a number of faults with the existing crypto community, such as the over-tokenization and over-financialization of blockchain technology, and how it conflicts with certain political concepts that were core to the founding of the space.

What’s next: Blockchains are more infrastructure than product, but it is difficult for developers to pitch companies to adopt blockchain since they provide more social improvement than technological improvement.

4. AI-Faked Video Conference Fools Company Out of $25 Million

Why it’s interesting: An employee at a multinational Chinese firm mistakenly sent over $25 million to scammers after being duped by a video conference full of AI-generated recreations of company executives.

What stands out: While some people have been fooled by one-on-one interactions with AI-generated video calls, this is the first known case of a multi-person video call fooling an individual - especially since it takes a lot of time to generate these AI-recreated executives.

What’s next: Deepfake technologies, like those used in this scam, are becoming more accessible for anyone to use, suggesting that these phishing attempts will be more common in the future.

5. Attorney Generals from 20 States Reject Biden Administration’s Plans for AI

Why it’s interesting: In response to President Biden’s Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence, attorney generals from 20 states issued chiding response to the regulatory overreach by the president.

What stands out: The letter calls out the president’s alleged misuse of the Defense Production Act to gain supervising authority over the development and distribution of artificial intelligence products.

What’s next: Depending on how vigorously the current administration plans to defend this Executive Order and the resulting standards it sets, the letter by these 20 attorneys general might be the precursor to a legal battle over AI-regulation.

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