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👉 Issue #50 of QX Snapshots is out!

Welcome to QX Snapshots - a weekly recap of the key news on emerging technologies. In this newsletter, you will get a "digest" of the latest info on Enterprise Blockchain, AI, Quantum Technology, and Metaverse. Hope it brings you value :)

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Every Friday we share key snapshot news on AI, Quantum Technologies, Industrial Metaverse, and Enterprise Blockchain/DLT.

Join our trusted readers at Microsoft, Verizon, Facebook, ServiceNow, ConsenSys, U.S Bank, Morgan Stanley, Duke University, EY, Sky, Informa, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Santander, and others.

[Blockchain] R3 Launches Digital Markets Suite for Capital Markets; BIS Innovates in Tokenizing Financial Instruments; Dubai's Innovation Hub & Euroclear for digital asset estate planning. R3 unveiled its R3 Digital Markets product suite to enable capital markets leveraging its Corda distributed ledger technology. The new offering combines digital currency, digital assets, and interoperability features. R3 Digital Assets supports asset tokenization and trading. R3 Digital Connect enables legacy infrastructure integration and connections with other DLTs.  The timing aligns with major central bank digital currency and blockchain trials. Meanwhile, the Bank of England and UK Treasury responded to the consultation on a potential central bank digital currency - the digital pound. They confirmed that if implemented, primary legislation would guarantee users' privacy and control. Further consultation will occur during the design phase before deciding whether to build a digital pound. Also, the Bank for International Settlements announced six new innovation projects including tokenizing financial instruments. The BIS Innovation Hub, Swiss National Bank, and World Bank launched Project Promissa to test digitizing promissory notes, and paper financial instruments funding international institutions like multilateral development banks. The goal is to tokenize the notes, simplifying management and providing enhanced transparency into their status across stakeholders. The project intends to address operational challenges in this paper-based system critical for funding global development banks' expanded financing capacity sought by the G20. GF Securities achieved a key milestone by successfully issuing fully digitized bonds under recent Hong Kong regulatory guidelines in collaboration with ABT leveraging ABT's public permissioned system.  In other news, Dubai's DIFC Innovation Hub unveiled an initiative with Euroclear and Julius Baer private bank to explore digital asset estate planning, as passing along keys for tokenized assets when someone dies poses challenges. With over $1 trillion in generational wealth transfer expected in the Middle East but low estate planning rates, the project aims to transform this underserved market and enable more inclusive, tech-enabled legacy planning for family businesses and wealth management.

[AI] Google's Lumiere for AI Video Generation; OpenAI Unveils Upgraded Models and Pricing; NSF Partners with Tech Giants for US National AI Research Resource. Google researchers have developed Lumiere, a space-time diffusion model for realistic AI video generation. It provides text-to-video, image-to-video, inpainting, cinemagraphs, and stylized video capabilities. Lumiere addresses the limitations of existing models by using a Space-Time U-Net architecture to generate the full video in one pass, enabling more realistic and coherent motion. When compared to other models, Lumiere was found to produce higher quality 5-second videos with greater motion magnitude and temporal consistency. Though not publicly available yet, Lumiere demonstrates state-of-the-art text-to-video generation. Meanwhile, OpenAI released new embedding models with reduced pricing and higher performance. OpenAI also released text-moderation-007, their most advanced moderation model. To provide more visibility, developers can now assign permissions to API keys and view usage metrics per key. Upcoming platform improvements will further improve usage insights and key management, especially for larger organizations. The changes aim to empower developers through lower pricing, advanced models, safety, and better tools to control and optimize usage. Next week a new upgraded GPT-3.5 Turbo launches with 50% lower input pricing. The new release includes an updated GPT-4 Turbo preview model that completes tasks like code generation more thoroughly than the previous preview model and is intended to reduce cases of “laziness” where the model doesn’t complete a task.  Also, the National Science Foundation launched a two-year National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource pilot program with tech companies like Amazon, Anthropic, Hugging Face, IBM, Intel, Meta, Microsoft, Nvidia, OpenAI and Palantir. The goal is to create a national resource for AI research and innovation, ensuring US leadership. Participating federal agencies include DARPA, DoD, DoE, NASA, and more. NAIRR will provide hardware, models, and resources to democratize access to advanced AI across institutions. Companies contribute in-kind support like compute credits and platform access instead of payments. 

[Quantum Technology] Thales and Quantinuum's PQC Starter Kit; Airbus and BMW's Quantum Mobility Quest; Eureka Network Seeks Quantum Tech Projects; India Launches $740M National Quantum Mission. Thales and Quantinuum launched a PQC Starter Kit to help enterprises prepare for post-quantum cryptography changes ahead. The kit provides a trusted environment for testing quantum-hardened encryption keys to understand the security implications of quantum computing. It incorporates Thales' Luna HSMs and Quantinuum's quantum random number generation technology. Organizations can use the kit to test proposed PQC algorithms for various use cases like PKI and IoT, identify weaknesses in encryption deployment, and implement changes to strengthen infrastructure, without disrupting real-world production systems. A case study of a financial service company is available here. Meanwhile, the Airbus and BMW Group "Quantum Mobility Quest" challenge portal is open and welcoming submissions to tackle complex transportation issues using quantum computing. Problem statements include aerodynamics, automated mobility, supply chains, and corrosion inhibition. Participants can also propose novel quantum applications for the sectors. A jury of quantum and industry experts will evaluate entries, awarding €30,000 prizes to winning teams in each challenge category by end of 2024. Also, the Eureka Network announced a call for proposals seeking applied quantum technologies projects. Opening January 31st and closing May 9th, 2024, the call invites organizations to submit R&D applications. To participate, organizations must form consortia with members from at least two participating countries. Eureka, recognized as the world's largest public international R&D collaboration network since 1985, is pushing to advance quantum technologies through this global call involving 15 countries. It furthers Eureka’s mission to drive international cooperation in R&D across diverse sectors and partnership models. And, India launched a $740 million National Quantum Mission spanning 2023-2031 to establish global leadership in quantum. It will fund tech hubs for Quantum Computing, Communication, Sensing, Materials & Devices. Aiming to translate research into deployable tech with industry partnerships, the mission aligns with global quantum advances. 

[Metaverse] Porsche Partners with Meta for Metaverse Innovations; Darewise Entertainment, Animoca Brands Team Up with Honda for Life Beyond; Hilton Debuts in Roblox Offering Real Rewards. Luxury automaker Porsche has partnered with Meta to utilize Quest 3 mixed reality headsets to explore innovations in the metaverse. This strategic collaboration focuses on harnessing extended reality to create immersive experiences that could impact the automotive digital landscape. Porsche aims to establish itself as a pioneer in integrating MR technology to shape a new era where the metaverse becomes an integral part of the automotive ecosystem. The partnership envisions reimagining events, transforming 3D model utilization, and taking user engagement to new levels. Meanwhile, Darewise Entertainment, a subsidiary of Animoca Brands developing the upcoming metaverse game Life Beyond, is collaborating with Honda Motor Co. and Animoca Brands Japan to cointegrate Honda's vehicles and transportation innovation into Life Beyond's science fiction gameplay. Facilitated by Animoca Brands Japan, the partnership will see Honda's world-class craftsmanship brought into Life Beyond's planet Dolos to usher in a new transportation era there. Together they will codevelop gameplay, assets, and Honda-featured in-game items and activities. Beyond bolstering in-game utility and style, the ideation from this key automotive partnership is expected to tremendously enhance the overall game experience. Also, Hilton is entering the metaverse for the first time through a branded integration in Paris Hilton's Slivingland world on Roblox. Users can earn real-world Hilton Honors perks like upgraded status and points by completing immersive challenges in the Hilton hotel lobby. As part of this, Hilton recreated a recent commercial starring Paris using Roblox avatars, marking one of the first metaverse activations to connect virtual experiences to tangible loyalty rewards. Developed with Paris Hilton's 11:11 Media, this shows brands still see potential in the metaverse. The activation doles out digital wearables and over 12 million Hilton Honors Points, signaling innovative ways hospitality marketers can drive engagement. 

[General technology]  Apple's App Store Opens to Third-Party Marketplaces in iOS 17.4; Blair and Hague Propose NHS Data Monetization; Salesforce and Microsoft Announce Workforce Reductions. To comply with the EU's Digital Markets Act, Apple is introducing major App Store changes in iOS 17.4. Developers can now distribute apps through alternative third-party marketplaces, with no commission fees. Apps can also offer alternative in-app payment systems without commissions. There will be a €0.50 per user annual Core Technology Fee after 1 million installs. Developers sticking with the App Store will pay reduced commissions of 10-17%. An app notarization process including automated scans and human review will check third-party apps for malware before users install. Users must give permission for installations and can revoke marketplace access. Meanwhile, UK Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and William Hague issued a joint proposal for the NHS to sell anonymized medical records to an independent company to fund development of cutting-edge treatments while preserving privacy. In a report with over 40 recommendations to support UK leadership in biotech and AI, they argue commercial access to the records could enable monitoring and alert systems. They also propose patient access to personal health accounts on the NHS app to aid treatment management, and biotech innovation. Overall they argue utilizing the records is key to economic growth and remaining at the forefront of healthcare transformation. In other news, Salesforce is laying off around 700 employees, representing roughly 1% of its global workforce. However, with 1,000 openings still available, the move could be more of a routine workforce adjustment. The job cuts follow recent tech industry downsizing by companies like Amazon and Google after heavy pandemic hiring.  Also, Microsoft announced it will lay off 1,900 employees this week, representing about 8% of its Gaming division staff. The cuts will occur primarily at Activision Blizzard, which Microsoft acquired last year for $69 billion. 

👉 Mark your calendar: 'Leveraging Ethereum Public Infrastructure: Insights from the Ethereum Business Readiness Report'

𝐃𝐚𝐭𝐞: Tuesday, February 06, 2023 - 4pm GMT

Join us for an insightful webinar as we dive into the key findings from the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance's 2023 Enterprise Ethereum Business Readiness Report. In the latest edition of over 100 pages, the EEA provides its most comprehensive assessment yet of Ethereum's growing adoption as an enterprise-grade business platform. 

Karen Scarbrough, Technical Programs Manager, Microsoft and EEA Executive will provide valuable insights and learnings on leveraging Ethereum's public infrastructure. 

👉 Catchup: This week, we had the pleasure of hosting Claus Skaaning, CEO of DigiShares, and Sebastián Rodríguez, VP of Product at Polygon ID to explore innovations in decentralized identity management, focusing on DigiShares and Polygon ID collaboration to develop the Decentralized ID for Tokenization (DITO) framework.

Recording is now available on Youtube.

FEATURED: Aggregated Blockchains: A New Thesis

By: Polygon 

“Blockchains today don’t look or feel like the Internet. Instead of a unified, highly scalable network, users face scaling limitations and bad UX due to fragmented liquidity and state. Unfortunately, the ever-increasing list of new chains being launched has compounded the problem. This environment is reminiscent of the pre-Internet era, siloed and lacking interoperability. We need to do better.

To solve these challenges, Polygon Labs researchers and engineers have designed the aggregation layer, a novel solution to unify the whole of Web3. Like the invention of TCP/IP, which created a seamlessly unified Internet, the aggregation layer, or AggLayer, unites a divided blockchain landscape into a web of ZK-secured L1 and L2 chains that feels like a single chain. 

The AggLayer is a decentralized protocol that does two things:

  1. It aggregates ZK proofs from all connected chains.

  2. It ensures safety for near-instant [atomic] cross-chain transactions."

The AggLayer is the next evolutionary step of blockchain design, improving on the currently prevailing approaches, namely monolithic and modular.

Monolithic → Modular → Aggregated

A quick tour of the history of blockchain architecture shows the need to evolve towards aggregated blockchains. 

In the beginning, there were the monoliths (i.e., integrated chains).

Monolithic chains run with nodes responsible for consensus, data availability, and execution, and they also serve as a settlement layer. Such an ecosystem is unified and interoperable by design; however, it has fundamental limits. Those limits come in the way of scalability, security, and decentralization tradeoffs. As scalability increases, the hardware requirements for validators increase, resulting in greater centralization and less security. Even the most efficient chains eventually result in state bloat (storing too much data) and state contention (processing too many transactions that touch the same state), which means performance degrades over time. In addition, monolithic chains do not offer meaningful customizability or sovereignty for ecosystem participants. 

To address these challenges, devs began to tinker with modular architectures, and for good reason: a modular framework solves a ton of problems inherent to monolithic systems. Modularity results in many chains running independently and in parallel, each maintaining sovereignty. It allows for much higher scalability and multiplicity of chain design—from VMs to decentralization to privacy profiles.

But modularity alone, as an evolution from monolithic chains, leads to fragmentation across liquidity and users; it creates multi-chain ecosystems that either require awkward and inefficient bridging, or sacrificing chain sovereignty.

There will be no mass adoption with siloed liquidity and users.

The solution to the monolithic-versus-modular dilemma is a new category of blockchain design: Aggregation.

Aggregation offers the sovereignty and scale of modular architectures, as well as the unified liquidity and UX of a monolithic system, synthesizing these two approaches into something novel."

Read the full article: here.


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