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.
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[Blockchain] UAE's CBDC Transfer to China; GF Securities' $100M Tokenized Bond; MUFG Explores Stablecoins for Trade; Fnality Eyes US Dollar Transactions; Siemens & J.P. Morgan Blockchain-based Treasury Management. The UAE has completed the first cross-border payment using its Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), the Digital Dirham, transferring AED50 million ($13.6 million) to China. The transaction was initiated by Sheikh Mansour during an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Central Bank of the UAE. It leveraged the mBridge platform, a collaborative project from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) aimed at exploring the potential of using Distributed Ledger Technology to facilitate cross-border payments with CBDCs. Meanwhile, Hong Kong-listed brokerage GF Securities has issued a $100 million native tokenized bond on the public Ethereum blockchain. The issuance was supported by tech provider ABT Tech and law firm Linklaters. Linklaters noted Hong Kong laws are sufficiently flexible to enable tokenization without widespread reform. The news builds on Hong Kong's progress in tokenized bonds and structured notes. Also, MUFG, Japan's largest bank, is exploring using permissionless blockchain stablecoins to settle trade with emerging markets, aiming to provide payment certainty without bank guarantees. The project involves MUFG as the trust bank, Progmat for stablecoin issuance, Standage for export trading solutions, and Ginco for wallets. They will assess if stablecoins can address challenges importers face with dollars and letters of credit. The solution may use escrowed stablecoins, released on cargo receipt, reducing risk. London-based Fnality, backed by major financial firms like UBS and Goldman Sachs, plans to expand its blockchain-based sterling payment system to also support US dollar transactions. Fnality is in talks with the Federal Reserve on a US application as its first priority. Supporting the move, Fnality shareholders want to utilize the system for dollar payments given their US business interests. Also, Siemens is collaborating with J.P. Morgan to develop payment processes using blockchain and programmable money. You can watch the video "Empowering Siemens Treasury via Blockchain Tech" here.
[AI] Meta's New AI Chip "Artemis"; China's AI Expansion; Amazon Launches Rufus, and Google Unveil Latest AI Innovations. Meta has announced it will be rolling out the second generation of its internally developed AI accelerator chip, with the code name "Artemis," this year. The chip aims to reduce reliance on costly Nvidia GPUs that currently dominate for AI workloads. At Meta's scale, an in-house chip could save hundreds of millions in costs annually. While an earlier version was scrapped last year, the new "Artemis" chip focuses on inference, running AI models to make judgments and respond to users. Unlike Nvidia GPUs, it can't train models. But it could still be more efficient for recommendation engines. Success with inference lays groundwork for a future Meta chip that can perform training too, key to end-to-end AI autonomy. Meanwhile, China's tech giants are keeping pace with Western peers in AI for now, but may struggle to maintain parity. China now has at least 130 large language models, or 40% of the global total - models that can recognise, comprehend and generate content using immense data sets. Firms like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent have made strides however with stockpiled chips and rapid AI advances mean Chinese inventory and workarounds could soon be outdated. Also, Amazon has launched Rufus, a new generative AI-powered conversational shopping assistant. Rufus is trained on Amazon's product catalog and information across the web to answer customer questions on shopping needs, make recommendations based on context, and facilitate product discovery. Launching in beta to a small number of US mobile app users, Rufus will roll out more widely over coming weeks. And, Google rolled out significant AI upgrades across Bard, Google Maps, and Imagen-2. Bard can now generate images globally using Google's Imagen technology, allowing conversational image prompts. The advanced Gemini model is also now available in 40 languages across 230 countries where Bard is supported.
[Quantum Technology] State of Quantum 2024 report, Quantum Roadmap and Pentagon’s Quantum Readiness. A new report ‘State of Quantum 2024’ by IQM Quantum Computers, OpenOcean, and Lakestar was released this week. It shows quantum computing has been resilient despite the economic downturn. While global VC investment in quantum startups dropped 50% in 2023, Europe saw slight growth. Over 30 governments have now committed over $40 billion in quantum funding for the next decade, buoying the industry. The report highlights rising enterprise demand to develop quantum expertise, the potential of hybrid systems, cautious startup funding roadmaps, and governments as sources of patient capital. It notes steady hardware progress but unpredictable software timelines on the path to commercial applications. Meanwhile, the Computing Community Consortium has released a 5-year update to its quantum computing workshop report. The report highlights major advances and ongoing challenges since its previous 2022 workshop. While hardware has advanced remarkably, reductions in errors and scaling systems remain hurdles towards practical fault tolerance. The full report examines critical topics for the next decade as the community pursues a unified approach to accelerate progress. Also, a new Mitchell Institute report reveals concerns about the Pentagon - the US Defense Department's ability to integrate quantum technologies into operational military systems. The findings highlight a gap between current quantum research and practical, mass-produced defense applications. The report stresses that the Pentagon must grow the quantum industrial base through formal acquisition programs, not just outreach efforts. Quantum hardware production is artisanal, requiring skilled labor, specialized tools and expensive facilities. With few exceptions, most field testing remains experimental. The lead author, Heather Penney advocates establishing programs focused on near-term platforms like navigation systems, timing devices, and radio receivers. Such initiatives would advance capabilities while stimulating an industry dominated by startups unable to scale up alone to meet defense needs.
[Metaverse] Microsoft 365 Meets Apple Vision Pro: A Leap into Immersive Work, Zoom's Mixed Reality Conferencing, and Meta's Billion-Dollar VR Milestone. Microsoft is launching Microsoft 365 apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams on Apple's Vision Pro headset at launch on February 2nd. These apps will leverage the headset's capabilities for immersive work. Microsoft Teams will support Apple's persona avatar and allow easy transfer between devices. The apps will also have Copilot AI features to help generate content. However, some services like Netflix and YouTube won't have dedicated Vision Pro apps yet. Meanwhile, Zoom has launched its visionOS app for Apple's new Vision Pro headset, bringing mixed reality to transform video conferencing. Key features include 3D avatars reflecting facial expressions and gestures for more natural meetings, 3D object sharing to visualize concepts, and pinning digital content to real surfaces for immersive presentations. While nascent, Zoom's foray into mixed reality aims to impact remote collaboration by overcoming limitations of traditional 2D video. Also, Meta's Reality Labs division, which develops its metaverse offerings, hit $1 billion in revenue for the first time in Q4 2023, although with substantial losses of $4.65 billion. The milestone comes as Meta looks to advance its vision for AI and the metaverse. Meta expects Reality Labs losses to increase further with investments in AR/VR development. Ad revenue still dominates overall, but VR app downloads signal rising consumer traction. And, Chinese AR startup Xreal has raised $60 million to fund the development of its upcoming AR headset, with the ambition to compete with titans like Meta and Apple. The funding reflects confidence in Xreal's potential to disrupt the AR market. Led by prominent tech investors, the investment aims to advance Xreal flagship headset which promises cutting-edge experiences across gaming, work and more. The funding comes as the AR industry sees rapid growth in both consumer and enterprise demand.
[General technology] Elon Musk's Neuralink Implants First Chip in Human Brain, U.S. Chips Act to Boost Semiconductor Manufacturing, and Oasis Security Launches with $40M for Machine Identity Management. Elon Musk announced on Monday that his startup Neuralink has successfully implanted its first computer chip into a human brain. The patient received the implant on Sunday and is recovering well. Musk said initial results show promising ability to detect neuron spikes, the signals used by brain cells. He stated the first goal is enabling patients who have lost limb function to control devices with their thoughts. However, details are scarce and experts say brain-computer interfaces remain experimental with lengthy testing required before reaching broad use. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is expected to announce billions in subsidies from the Chips Act to companies like Intel and TSMC in the coming weeks to boost semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S. However, some lawmakers and industry executives worry it could take years before the new factories are operational due to permitting delays and worker shortages. Negotiations have also been complicated by unclear rules and conditions around profit-sharing, China activity, and wages. The implementation challenges make the Chips Act an early test of the U.S. government's ability to carry out strategic industrial policy. In other news, Oasis Security, has emerged from stealth with $40 million in funding to tackle non-human identity management. With 50+ machine identities per human in organizations, the attack surface is much greater if left unmanaged. Oasis maps all non-human connections, detects anomalies, and suggests or automates remediation. Its founders have intelligence experience securing classified systems. As "identity is the new perimeter," Oasis focuses specifically on the unaddressed gaping hole of machine identities rather than also incorporating human ones like some competitors.
👉 QualitaX - January 2024 - Monthly Recap #1
Our monthly recap offers a regular cadence of updates regarding our contributions to the Enterprise Blockchain community. These updates showcase QualitaX's dedication to advancing blockchain adoption in financial services. Whether collaborating on open standards, releasing open-source tools, or educating through ecosystem partnerships, we are committed to supporting the digital transformation of traditional finance.
👉 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.
FEATURED: LayerZero V2 Deep Dive
By: Mark Murdock
"This article broadly explains LayerZero in the context of V2 going live. From a technical standpoint, it will explore the “what” of LayerZero V2, including its design, security, and trust assumptions. From a discussion standpoint, it will also attempt to rationalize the “why” of LayerZero through a general analysis of the core principles of the protocol and an exploration of the ramifications of V2 on other interop solutions.
Here is an outline of the article:
What Is LayerZero?
Explaining LayerZero — a definition that everyone can understand
Core Principles — immutable, permissionless, censorship-resistant
How Does V2 Work?
V2 Architecture — protocol, standards, infrastructure
V2 vs V1 — key highlights comparing the two, with a focus on Security Stacks
V2 Transaction Lifecycle — how to send a message in four steps
Use Cases — identity, stablecoins, and lending markets
V2 Trust Assumptions — endpoint deployments, collusion risk, 2/2 multisig, and more
LayerZero and the Market
Bridges — how V2 inhales the bridge industry (messaging and liquidity)
OApp and OFT — why everyone should use V2 contract standards"
Read the full article: here.