May 20, 2023
Issue No. 55
Welcome to this week's AtherXplorer, covering the latest in gaming, blockchain, and everything in between.
This week’s top picks include:
- AI: ChatGPT App Releases on iOS; ServiceNow & NVIDIA’s Generative AI for Enterprises
- Blockchain: Australia’s First FX Transaction Using CBDC; CT vs. Ledger’s Recover Service
- Gaming: Microsoft-Activision Blizzard Deal Approved; Line Reveals 2023 NFT Games
- Web3 & Metaverse: Opera Integrates MultiversX Blockchain; A16z-Backed Rooms.xyz
- NFTs: Assassin's Creed 'Smart Collectibles' NFTs with 3D-Printed Physical Items; Pudgy Penguins Releases Toy Line; ERC-6551: A New Standard for NFTs
- Legal Landscape: OpenAI CEO Calls for an AI Regulatory Agency; FTX Leadership Sues SBF
Yellow AI Launches YellowG, a Generative AI Platform for Automation Workflows
Yellow AI has launched YellowG, a next-gen conversational AI platform that delivers tailor-made solutions for various industries and streamlines intricate workflows. Yellow AI aims to empower businesses to develop automated technologies using generative AI and enterprise GPT.
YellowG integrates AI-driven chatbots into customer and employee experiences across various channels to achieve elevated levels of automation and reduce operational costs. It generates runtime workflows and makes real-time decisions using dynamic AI agents while demonstrating near-human empathy, maintaining an impressively low hallucination rate close to zero.
In addition to its multi-LLM architecture, YellowG utilizes enterprise data and industry-specific knowledge to navigate complex scenarios, providing personalized responses tailored to specific use cases. The platform claims a response intent accuracy rate of over 97% and learns from extensive volumes of data to generate responses to even the most complex queries.
YellowG promptly analyzes customer messages and develops a strategic plan for fulfilling their goal, interacting with the enterprise system to retrieve all relevant data necessary for processing the user's request. It also leverages real-time analysis of the user's responses to guide the conversation, resulting in highly personalized and tailored interaction.
This platform has a zero setup feature that ingests and analyzes customers' documents and websites, delivering instant answers to inquiries within the scope of these resources.
YellowG also conceals Personally Identifiable Information (PII) from third-party LLMs, fulfilling the criteria SOC 2 Type 2 certification sets forth. This certification attests to YellowG's systems and processes' purposeful design to protect customer data while maintaining exemplary levels of security and privacy.
OpenAI Releases ChatGPT App on iOS!
OpenAI has announced the launch of the ChatGPT app for iOS, which syncs conversations and supports voice input. The app is free to use and integrates Whisper, OpenAI’s open-source speech-recognition system, enabling voice input. ChatGPT Plus subscribers will have exclusive access to GPT-4’s capabilities, early access to features, and faster response times, all on iOS. The app's versatility includes instant answers, tailored advice, creative inspiration, professional input, and learning opportunities.
The ChatGPT app is designed to provide precise information instantly, without having to sift through ads or multiple results. It can also offer tailored advice on cooking, travel plans, or crafting thoughtful messages. The app provides creative inspiration, generates gift ideas, outlines presentations, and even writes the perfect poem. It can boost productivity with idea feedback, note summarization, and technical topic assistance. The app also provides learning opportunities to explore new languages, modern history, and more at your own pace.
The ChatGPT app is free to use and syncs a user's history across devices. ChatGPT Plus subscribers will have exclusive access to GPT-4’s capabilities, early access to features, and faster response times, all on iOS. OpenAI is starting the rollout of the ChatGPT app in the US and plans to expand to additional countries in the coming weeks. The company is eager to see how users use the app and is committed to continuous feature and safety improvements.
The launch of the ChatGPT app for iOS is a significant step for OpenAI toward its mission to transform state-of-the-art research into useful tools that empower people while continuously making them more accessible. The app's versatility, combined with its ability to sync conversations and support voice input, makes it an excellent tool for users on the go. OpenAI has also announced that an Android version of the ChatGPT app will be released soon, making it accessible to a broader range of users.
ServiceNow and NVIDIA Partner Up to Build Generative AI Across Enterprise IT
ServiceNow and NVIDIA have partnered to develop generative AI capabilities to transform business processes with faster, more intelligent workflow automation. Using NVIDIA software, services, and infrastructure, ServiceNow is developing custom large language models trained on data specific to its ServiceNow Platform to expand its already extensive AI functionality. The partnership aims to build super-specialized generative AI for enterprises to boost the capability and productivity of IT professionals worldwide using the ServiceNow platform.
The collaboration between ServiceNow and NVIDIA is exploring several generative AI use cases to simplify and improve productivity across the enterprise. One use case is developing intelligent virtual assistants and agents to help quickly resolve user questions and support requests with purpose-built AI chatbots. Generative AI can also be used for case prioritization with greater accuracy, saving time and improving outcomes for customer service agents. Additionally, generative AI can improve the employee experience by identifying growth opportunities and delivering customized learning and development recommendations.
In its generative AI research and development, ServiceNow is using NVIDIA AI Foundations cloud services and the NVIDIA AI Enterprise software platform, including the NVIDIA NeMo framework, which provides tools to help developers build, customize, and deploy language models for enterprise use cases. NeMo Guardrails software is also included to enable developers to easily add topical, safety, and security features for AI chatbots.
ServiceNow is also helping NVIDIA streamline its IT operations with generative AI tools, using NVIDIA data to customize NVIDIA NeMo foundation models running on hybrid-cloud infrastructure consisting of NVIDIA DGX Cloud and on-premises NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD AI supercomputers.
Other AI News
Blockchain and DeFi Developments
Australia Marks First FX Transaction Using a CBDC as eAUD Pilot Continues
Australia has conducted its first foreign exchange transaction using eAUD as part of a live pilot for the country's potential central bank digital currency (CBDC). Blockchain infrastructure provider Canvas reported that on May 17, crypto fund managers DigitalX and TAF Capital traded eAUD against the stablecoin USD Coin. The transaction was settled instantly and touted as a success over traditional FX and remittance networks, which Canvas described as "slow, expensive, and prone to errors." The FX trade was part of a series of tests currently underway as the country explores possible use cases for a CBDC.
The pilot program was launched by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) in conjunction with the financial research institute Digital Finance Cooperative Research Centre (DFCRC). The tests explore the use of eAUD in tokenized FX settlements, which could point toward the benefits of using the CBDC over fiat currencies and existing settlement platforms. The transaction was done on a decentralized app on Canvas' "Connect" - an Ethereum layer 2 that uses StarkWare's zero-knowledge (ZK) roll-up technology.
Canvas CEO David Lavecky called the trade "historic" and added that the digital dollar could address challenges in FX and remittance markets, such as "improving transaction times, reducing fees, and providing more open access." Australia's pilot program is exploring various use cases for a CBDC, including offline payments, distribution, custody, tax automation, use in "trusted Web3 commerce," and even livestock auctions.
In April, Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) bank conducted a pilot test using the CBDC to trade carbon credits. ANZ used eAUD to back its A$DC stablecoin to trade the credits on a public blockchain, and the settlement happened "in near real-time."
Crypto Twitter Reacts to Ledger Wallet’s “Recover” Service
Ledger, a wallet provider for cryptocurrencies, has introduced a new feature called Ledger Recover to offer a safeguard in case users misplace their seed phrase. The service employs a technique where the user’s seed phrase is divided into encrypted fragments, each sent to different external entities. Once these fragments are combined and decrypted, they can be used to reconstruct the original seed phrase. However, several crypto community members, including security specialists and Ledger wallet owners, have expressed their discontent with the feature and taken to social media to express their discontent.
Mudit Gupta, the chief information security officer at Polygon Labs, shared on Twitter that "It’s a horrendous idea, DON’T enable this feature.” Gupta expanded further in his Twitter thread that "the problem here is that the encrypted keys parts are sent to 3 corporations and they can reconstruct your keys."
Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao also chimed in on Gupta’s thread, saying, "So the seed can leave the device now? Sounds like a different direction than ‘your keys never leave the device.’"
Ledger has responded to the criticism by emphasizing that Ledger Recover is an optional subscription for users who want to back up their secret recovery phrase. “You don’t have to use it, and can continue managing your recovery phrase yourself if that’s why you bought a Ledger,” the company explained. Ledger also stated that it is committed to ensuring the highest level of security for its users and that the feature was developed to provide an additional layer of protection.
Despite the assurances from Ledger, the introduction of Ledger Recover has raised concerns among some members of the crypto community about the security of their private keys. The seed phrase is a crucial component of a cryptocurrency wallet, and if it falls into the wrong hands, it can result in the loss of funds. The fact that the seed phrase fragments are sent to external entities has led to fears that they could be compromised, putting the users' private keys at risk.
Crypto Lender Compound Deploys on Ethereum Layer-2 Arbitrum
Compound Finance, one of the original decentralized finance (DeFi) products, has announced that it is deploying its latest iteration on the popular scaling solution, Arbitrum. Compound lets users lend and borrow various cryptocurrencies and was also one of the first to experiment with yield farming, distributing its native COMP token to the platform’s users in 2020. The deployment of Compound on Arbitrum is limited to a few cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum, Arbitrum, Wrapped Bitcoin, and GMX, the token powering the eponymously-named decentralized exchange.
Compound's deployment on Arbitrum is optimized to manage risk by reducing the amount of long-tail crypto assets that can be lent and borrowed.
The deployment of Compound on Arbitrum is expected to help reduce the cost of lending and borrowing idle cryptocurrencies. The new iteration, V3, is designed to reduce risk by limiting the amount of long-tail crypto assets that can be lent and borrowed. Long-tail assets are cryptocurrencies with low trading volumes, and their limited liquidity makes them riskier to lend and borrow. V3 is optimized to reduce this risk by focusing on the most liquid assets, such as Ethereum and Wrapped Bitcoin while limiting the amount of long-tail assets that can be lent and borrowed.
Gaming Updates and Insights
European Commission Approves Microsoft-Activision Blizzard Deal
The European Commission approved Microsoft's acquisition of Activision-Blizzard, stating that while it had reservations about the deal, Microsoft's efforts to prove it wouldn't monopolize the cloud gaming space swayed its decision. The EU Commission investigated the acquisition and found that Microsoft could potentially muscle out fellow cloud-gaming services and would dominate the PC market. The remedies Microsoft offered that the Commission accepted were a free license for EEA consumers to stream Activision games they owned to any cloud gaming service and a corresponding license for cloud providers to allow those consumers to stream their games.
According to the Commission, these measures will help boost innovation and development in the cloud space and eliminate the anti-competition concerns the merger raised. The decision was handed down shortly after the UK's Competition and Markets Authority voted to block the merger, citing similar concerns as the EU Commission about the competition in cloud gaming spaces. The CMA believes the deal could stifle innovation in the cloud gaming space, where it estimates Microsoft already holds 60-70% of the market.
Margrethe Vestager, the Commission's EVP on competition policy, said about the acquisition, "Video games attract billions of users all over the world. In such a fast-growing and dynamic industry, it is crucial to protect competition and innovation." Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement about the EU's decision, "The EC conducted an extremely thorough, deliberate process to gain a comprehensive understanding of gaming."
Microsoft's acquisition of Activision-Blizzard will represent a marked improvement for cloud gaming compared with its current situation, although Microsoft will have to adhere to certain conditions. The EU Commission noted that it did not believe withholding Call of Duty from PlayStation would harm competition in the region, as it is less popular in the EEA than in other regions of the world and is less popular in the EEA within its genre compared to other markets.
The remedies Microsoft offered that the Commission accepted were a free license for EEA consumers to stream Activision games they owned to any cloud gaming service and a corresponding license for cloud providers to allow those consumers to stream their games. The Commission says these measures ensure gamers who purchase Activision-Blizzard-King games have the right to stream those games with any cloud game streaming service of their choice and play them on any device using any operating system.
Axie Infinity Rolls Out ‘Lite' Version of Crypto Game on Apple App Store
The developers of Axie Infinity, a popular play-to-earn crypto game, have released a version of their newest game, Axie Infinity: Origins, on Apple's App Store that does not require users to buy NFTs.
The card game will initially give players free non-NFT "starter characters," representing a shift away from the original Axie Infinity game, which required users to buy or rent NFTs to play. The game operates on Sky Mavis's proprietary Ethereum-based Ronin sidechain, so owners of NFT Axies will be able to play them in the iOS release.
Axie Infinity co-founder and COO Aleksander Leonard Larsen said that the free-to-play version begins with non-NFT Axies, but eventually, as people buy other Axies in the app, they will want to turn them into NFTs. NFT holders will also be able to move their Axies into the app. Larsen added that the relationship with Apple is solid, and the company hopes to introduce studios that are part of its Ronin Network to Apple, potentially making it easier for their games to be accepted as well.
Axie Infinity: Origins was previously available in limited regions through the Google Play store and owner Sky Mavis's own Mavis Hub, but it is now rolling out to key markets in Latin America and Asia on the App Store. It will be available for Apple mobile users in countries including Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
According to Larsen, the current version of Axie Origins on the App Store is a lite version, and more will follow. He said that the developers have been in touch with Apple for about two years, and after a lot of trial and error, they have finally been able to release a version of the game on the App Store that doesn't require users to buy NFTs. The free non-NFT "starter characters" will allow more players to try the game and get a feel for it before deciding whether to invest in NFTs.
Line Reveals Five 'Gamer First' NFT Games Releasing in 2023
Line Next, a US-based subsidiary of the popular Asian social app Line, has revealed the first five games that it plans to release on its Game Dosi platform in the second half of 2023.
The new Web3 games include Sweet Monster Guardians, Vestria the Last Order (VLO), KEROZ, Drawship Kingdom Reverse, and Project GD, the last of which is an internally-developed IP that will span multiple games over time. Each title features unique game mechanics, and the first Game Dosi title to offer NFT pre-sales, Sweet Monster Guardians, is a browser-based strategic defense game from developer Movisoft built around the strategic placement of unique characters.
Vestria the Last Order (VLO) is a PC and Mac game developed by SIS Studio that lets players immerse themselves in the collective role-playing adventure and strike off on quests together. KEROZ, a mobile and PC action-adventure experience created by Superflex, is a dungeon-crawling "roguelike" game for those who prefer this genre. Drawship Kingdom Reverse, a browser-based game from Nolatency Limited, lets gamers reap NFT rewards through avatars, machines, and dolls.
Project GD is a fantasy IP that will be a competitive trading card game (TCG) with NFT-based decks of cards. Game Dosi's official launch is slated for May 18, and the company has announced that it will offer a membership sale with gold and platinum-tier NFT passes that grant benefits such as early access to the new games. The Game Dosi platform plans to provide NFT rewards from its forthcoming Project GD game, and players can earn these rewards by completing missions that can be found on the company's community website, with a May 31 deadline.
Other Gaming News
- Roblox ads come under fire from the Children’s Advertising Review Unit
- Honkai: Star Rail pushes MiHoYo ahead of NetEase for revenue with only Tencent ahead
- 44% of upcoming Take-Two titles are new IP
Web3 & Metaverse News
A16z-Backed Rooms.xyz Lets You Build Interactive, 3D Rooms and Simple Games in Your Browser
Rooms.xyz is a new digital creativity platform that provides a browser-based tool for designing 3D spaces, called “rooms”. The platform enables users to express their creativity through designing rooms, basic games, or other interactive activities using drag-and-drop, editable objects, or code. The startup has been backed by $10 million in seed funding led by a16z.
The co-founder of Rooms.xyz, Jason Toff, explained that the idea was inspired by the fact that 3D model creation was far too difficult and there wasn't a tool that provided a middle ground for 3D design. The tool should be nearly as straightforward as it is in Minecraft, but the building unit shouldn’t be just a single block. With Rooms.xyz, users can search for, edit, and then add a fully formed object to their space, like a door, a sofa, a table, a bed, a car, decor, a pet, or anything else they can dream up. The interface allows you to change an object’s attributes and functionality, like the color, size, position, or style, or what happens when you click it.
Rooms.xyz is meant for open-ended play where people use the objects to express themselves in some way. The startup seeded its community with 1,000 Voxel 3D objects it commissioned from creators, which can be added and customized in your own space. Every room is also by default public and can be “remixed” — that is, used as a template or jumping-off point for designing your own. The platform also has an educational aspect as you can interact with the objects via the user interface or click to reveal the code. Rooms.xyz uses Lua, the same language used for coding in Roblox, which could help to introduce younger users to coding concepts before moving on to more advanced editing tools.
While the rooms themselves are interactive and can be interconnected with one another, there’s not much more that can be done with them after the design is complete besides sharing their URL with others to show them off. Eventually, Rooms.xyz could monetize by selling objects for purchase, subscriptions, or licensing its software for education, but that’s all very much to be determined at this point.
As the startup opens up to beta testing, the goal is to see how early adopters use the product and what they end up building or requesting. One area they’re exploring involves the use of ChatGPT. They have created an object of a fortune teller (Zoltar!) to which you can pose questions that are then answered by the OpenAI chatbot, speaking as Zoltar would. Users can copy that code and use it for their AI-enabled objects, editing the prompt within the code to change the way their object responds. Also in development is an AI tool that would let users instruct the software to write code for the object they want and how it should behave.
Why Relics and Steve Aoki Are Building NFT Jukeboxes for the Metaverse
Relics, an NFT startup, has collaborated with DJ Steve Aoki to launch the Idol III, a fully digital, metaverse-ready music player that is an Ethereum NFT collectible. The Idol III comes with a unique, pre-installed mix from Aoki’s Dim Mak label, mixed and mastered by him, and is optimized for use within metaverse platforms. The Idol III is currently compatible with Decentraland, but additional platform support is planned.
The Idol III follows Relics’ Genesis Idol and Idol II, which was released in collaboration with video game concept artist Raf Grassetti (God of War), and the Idol II mint is set to begin on Wednesday. The Idol III is an open edition for collectors of various other music NFTs, allowing holders of NFTs by musicians like Avenged Sevenfold, Mike Shinoda, Kings of Leon, and Deadmau5, among others, to participate.
Relics General Manager Jordan Kallman said that the Idol III is inspired by jukebox culture from the 1950s that created social environments in diners, and how sound systems can be showpieces in people’s homes. The Idol III can play any compatible music NFT from a user’s wallet, and the monolith can also be left behind to continue broadcasting songs and enable that social experience. It is one of the earliest efforts to make something natively designed for virtual worlds that plays music, according to Kallman.
The Idol III offers a lot to artists as well, as it has been created in conjunction with independent electronic music label Monstercat, which helped shape the soundtracks to hit video games like Rocket League and Beat Saber. A native Metaverse music player will open up new channels for artists to reach audiences, Kallman said. Relics aims to be the go-to place for artists wanting to safely explore the metaverse. The Idol III will ensure that all compatible music NFTs are fully licensed for use in virtual worlds to avoid lawsuits or cease-and-desist efforts that YouTube and Twitch users faced as adoption picked up.
Relics is currently finishing off a software development kit that will allow metaverse builders to easily bring Idol III compatibility to their various worlds. The startup turned to Aoki to design the Idol III because he is an incredible artist and innovator, says Kallman. Aoki has been a force in opening up this space to people who had not heard of blockchain or NFTs before. He has the same ethos of trying to bring everybody together when it comes to music players for music fans.
The Idol III is expected to be a hit among music fans who want to experience music in virtual worlds. The Idol III's unique NFT form, combined with its compatibility with various metaverse platforms, makes it an attractive option for collectors. Additionally, Idol III's potential to open new channels for artists to reach audiences in virtual worlds is a significant development in the music industry.
Crypto Browser Opera Integrates Layer 1 Blockchain MultiversX
MultiversX aims to make Web3 interoperable and easily accessible for new users. In February, it launched its Web3 "super app" xPortal, an all-in-one platform for users to access decentralized applications and metaverses. The company also recently teamed up with Tencent, the Chinese technology company behind the popular messaging app WeChat, to help the company build out its Web3 strategy.
Beniamin Mincu, CEO of MultiversX, said that integrating the network into Opera gives users a more accessible path into the Web3 ecosystem. Mincu believes that integrating MultiversX into the Opera browser suite is leveraging the potential of Web3 in a way that is accessible and familiar to users. It is a significant step in creating a simplified, low-barrier entry point to the world of Web3 and blockchain assets, one that allows users to easily access the new digital economy without needing to understand the underlying complexities.
The integration of MultiversX with the Opera browser is a significant development in making the Metaverse and Web3 more accessible to users. The ability to transact with EGLD or ESDT tokens, connect to MultiversX-based NFTs, and access decentralized applications built on the network from within the Opera browser's interface makes it easier for users to interact with the Metaverse. MultiversX's aim to make Web3 interoperable and easily accessible for new users is evident in its recent partnerships and the launch of its xPortal platform, which provides access to decentralized applications and metaverses.
Inside the NFT Space
Revving Up the NFT Market: Mattel Unveils Fast & Furious Collection
Mattel, the iconic toy maker, is launching the newest edition of its Hot Wheels NFT Garage Series, based on the global blockbuster series, Fast & Furious, on May 22. The Hot Wheels NFT Garage x Fast & Furious collection will reside on the Flow Blockchain and feature cars from the movies, including Dominic Toretto's 1970 Dodge Charger, Brian O'Conner's 1969 Camero, and Suki's (played by Devon Aoki, sister of DJ and NFT magnate Steve Aoki) Honda S2000 from 2 Fast 2 Furious. The limited edition NFTs will sell for $20 per pack.
The Fast & Furious drop is the latest in Mattel's foray into NFTs. Mattel's recent launch, Boss Beauties x Barbie collection, provides holders with the opportunity to own a physical die-cast version of Suki's car if they manage to collect the entire set, further bridging the gap between the tangible and digital realms. Earlier this month, Mattel joined forces with OnChain Studios to release a collection of Star Wars-themed digital collectibles called Cryptoys to celebrate the unofficial Star Wars holiday on May 4th.
Mattel's entry into NFTs is a significant development in the toy industry as it bridges the gap between the tangible and digital worlds. The Fast & Furious NFT collection is timed alongside the release of the latest installment of the Fast & Furious film franchise and features iconic cars from the movies. The collection will be available on the Flow Blockchain and will be a limited edition, with NFTs selling for $20 per pack.
Mattel's recent collaborations with OnChain Studios and its Boss Beauties x Barbie collection further demonstrate the company's interest in NFTs and its efforts to bridge the gap between the tangible and digital realms. The availability of a physical die-cast version of Suki's car for those who manage to collect the entire set is a significant development in the toy industry, indicating that NFTs can have a physical component as well.
Pudgy Penguins Releases Toy Line, Earns $500,000 in 48 Hours
Pudgy Penguins’ Twitter announced the release of Pudgy Toys, its physical line of family-friendly plushie and figurine toys. The video also unveiled Pudgy World, an online portal that provides non-Web3 native consumers their first blockchain wallet and soulbound and tradeable NFTs. The video, which depicts a child playing in her bedroom with the NFT-inspired toys in an homage to the Toy Story franchise, marked a special moment in the project's history and the first community-licensed mass-market product line from a Web3 brand.
Pudgy World is an ecosystem that the Pudgy team describes as a "social immersive experience" where users can connect and communicate with fellow holders worldwide. Each box contains four to six "common" to "epic" traits that can be traded, sold, or used to equip their Forever Pudgy Penguin. This allows consumers to customize their own unique NFT "without them knowing," according to the tweet announcing the release. Once they are satisfied with their Forever Pudgy Penguin, they will mint it on the blockchain as a dynamic NFT whose traits can be changed and further customized at any time.
Pudgy Penguins has a strong presence on Instagram, with nearly 530,000 followers. The account provides feel-good content based on the Pudgy aesthetic, and followers will find zero mention of the words "NFT" or "blockchain." The company's longstanding brand strategy has been to present a welcoming face to non-Web3 natives, downplaying the technology behind its brand. This approach seems to have paid off for Pudgy Penguins, as they have sold nearly $500,000 of toys on Amazon, totaling over 20,000 individual toys, with an average order value of around $130. Pudgy Penguins CEO Luca Schnetzler has announced that Pudgy Penguins toys will soon be hitting the shelves of "some of the most prominent retail and specialty stores in the world," but specifics have yet to be released.
The release of Pudgy Toys and Pudgy World is a significant development in the NFT space, as it provides non-Web3 native consumers their first blockchain wallet and soulbound and tradeable NFTs. The Pudgy team's strategy of downplaying the technology behind its brand has allowed the company to sell nearly $500,000 worth of toys on Amazon, with Pudgy Penguins toys soon hitting the shelves of some of the most prominent retail and specialty stores in the world. The ability to customize their own unique NFT without knowing it is likely to entice consumers to purchase Pudgy Toys and further bridge the gap between the tangible and digital worlds.
Jack Butcher Expands Checks NFTs Ecosystem With Physical Print-Backed 'Elements' Collection
Jack Butcher, the founder of the creative agency Visualize Value, has announced the release of his new project called Checks Elements. The project comprises a 152-piece generative art collection that pairs generative artwork with hand-drawn physical prints. The collection is inspired by the four classical elements of earth, fire, water, and air, with each piece in the collection being a unique algorithmically-generated composite of colors that make up these elements. The collection aims to explore the "ever-evolving relationship between consensus and truth".
Butcher's team modified the algorithm that created the original Checks collection and added new parameters to create the new collection. He teamed up with master printmaker Jean Robert Milant and Cirrus editions to bring the NFT outputs to life. He translated them into hand-drawn 30-inch by 43-inch monoprints created via an on-chain SVG file fed through a vintage lithographic printing press. Each physical artwork was then authenticated using Butcher's fingerprint and paired with an Ethereum-based NFT.
Three of the four "Alpha" elements, including water, air, and earth, will be offered at a solo auction at Christie's beginning on May 16 and concluding on May 23. The remainder of the Checks Elements, including the fourth Alpha element of fire, will then be offered via public auction for 24 hours, with physical prints beginning shopping on June 24. A portion of the sale proceeds will be donated to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Butcher said that the auction would use "some of the dynamics" used in the original Checks collections, although he said that this project would not necessarily be interoperable with the other gamified pieces. In the previous Checks collection, holders have been able to composite NFTs to create smaller, unique editions of checkmarks. Butcher believes that the idea of Elements over the long term is to exist as pairs that sit together as a complement to the existing checks ecosystem.
It is also possible that collectors may want to decouple their physical prints from their NFTs and sell them separately, an outcome that Butcher said is possible, though he believes that for provenance purposes, people will want to keep them together. Martin Klipp, president of Beyond Art Creative, who helped bring the artwork to life, added that they made a conscious choice not to include a burn mechanism into this thing because both pieces are art, both pieces have their merits, and both exist together or apart.
ERC-6551: A New Standard for NFTs
ERC-6551 is a new standard for non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Twitter user @RealJonahBlake shared a thread with a few examples of how this new standard could fundamentally change the way NFTs are used in games.
As per Jonah, the standard allows NFTs to act as a holding identity, rather than just one asset in a wallet. This makes it possible for on-chain game accounts to be sold in a basket, rather than moving various assets in and out of one wallet.
Jonah explains that this could lead to several new use cases for NFTs, such as:
- On-chain sims using AI. AI is already being used in games to generate objects and worlds, as well as to create more complex NPC dialogue. With ERC-6551, AI could be used to create even more sophisticated simulations.
- Social Game Grind. Twitter is a massive game board where people declare intellectual debate battles and winners get social points. With ERC-6551, NFT assets could be used to create a grind on Twitter, adding a new layer of competition and engagement to the platform.
But these are just a few of the potential use cases for ERC-6551. As the standard is adopted by more developers, we can expect to see even more innovative and exciting ways to take advantage of this new standard.
Assassin's Creed 'Smart Collectibles' Pair NFTs With 3D-Printed Physical Items
Ubisoft, the company behind popular game franchises like Far Cry and Just Dance, has partnered with Integral Reality Labs to create Assassin's Creed Smart Collectibles, which are NFT access passes minted on Ethereum scaling network Polygon and paired with physical collectibles inspired by the popular historical action franchise.
The NFTs, called "Digital Soul," can be used to customize and redeem a physical collectible that depicts one of the heroes from the game series suspended within a transparent cube. Owners can choose from multiple outfits, weapons, and poses before the physical collectible is printed and shipped. The NFTs come in various rarity levels, and those with a higher tier level will unlock greater customization elements for the associated physical collectibles.
The collectibles feature an embedded near-field communication (NFC) chip. When tapped with a smartphone, owners can view a digital version of the character within a companion app, as well as access additional features and utilities tied to the project. The NFTs and physical collectibles offer a unique way for fans of the game franchise to own a piece of the game's history and interact with it in a new way.
The use of NFTs in the gaming industry is a growing trend, offering new ways for fans to interact with their favorite games and own unique pieces of gaming history. Ubisoft's partnership with Integral Reality Labs to create Assassin's Creed Smart Collectibles is an exciting development in this space, and we will likely see more game publishers exploring the potential of NFTs and blockchain technology in the future.
Deadfellaz NFTs Let You Bring the Avatars to Life on Video
DFZ Labs, the creative team behind zombie-themed non-fungible token (NFT) collection Deadfellaz, announced on Friday that it is rolling out a video utility extension called Streamingfellaz.
The tool will allow Deadfellaz token holders, also known as The Horde, to represent themselves as their Deadfellaz NFT on platforms including Google Meet, Twitch, Zoom, and YouTube.
Streamingfellaz tracks users' movements and body language to bring their tokens to life on screen.
Betty, CEO & Co-Founder of DFZ LABS, said in a press release that Streamingfellaz will further extend Deadfellaz’s mission of giving holders a Web3 digital identity and new modes of self-expression.
“So many of our collectors have an emotional connection to their profile picture (PFP),” said Betty. “It’s important for us to foster that connection by providing tools that allow our wildly creative community access to the empowerment of expression - without needing to have the technical skills.”
One member of The Horde, Dead Channel, was able to beta test the new tool and was enthusiastic about the product. “It’s been great bringing my full Web3 identity to life with my Streamingfella. Like many in the Horde: I am my fella, and my fella is me!” Dead Channel said in the release.
Deadfellaz has been keen on expanding its IP beyond its digital artwork since its inception. In October, the collection teamed up with popular DJ and NFT collector Steve Aoki to release a clothing line paired with metaverse-ready wearables. In September, Deadfellaz partnered with denim brand Wrangler to release a series of Deadfellaz-themed jeans with a near-field communication (NFC) chip to earn an NFT linked to the clothing item.
The tool is expected to be a popular addition to the Deadfellaz ecosystem, and it will be interesting to see how it is used by community members to express themselves and connect with others.
Legal Landscape, Policies, and Regulation
In Senate Testimony, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman Agrees with Calls for an AI Regulatory Agency
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman testified before a bipartisan U.S. Senate panel on May 16, 2023. He agreed with calls for a regulatory agency for AI and was not grilled or interrogated like Mark Zuckerberg in the late 2010s.
Altman was praised by committee chairperson Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and others. He was also asked what regulations he would implement if he were "queen or king for a day."
Altman called for a new agency, a set of safety standards, and a requirement for independent audits. He also said that "we need a new framework" that goes beyond Section 230 to regulate AI.
Lawmakers often alluded to their unsuccessful attempts to regulate social media, as well as their regret over Section 230. They expressed a desire to avoid a repeat of Section 230 in the regulation of AI.
OpenAI's true priorities when it comes to regulation were hinted at in Altman's testimony. He said that there will be many people who develop models, but that there will be a relatively small number of providers that can make models at the scale of a state-of-the-art LLM.
Altman also said that OpenAI's primary mission is to "ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity." He said that the licensing scheme is not for short-term AI concerns but for the future of AI.
Senator Richard Blumenthal said that today's hearing was the "first in a series of hearings intended to write the rules of AI." It remains to be seen if future hearings will remain so friendly when it comes to regulating AI technology.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said he thought today's hearing was "historic." He said that he had never heard of large corporations or private-sector entities coming before Congress and pleading for regulation.
Lindsay Gorman, a former White House advisor and senior fellow for emerging technologies at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, said that "this first hearing — which won't be the last — laid the groundwork for that national conversation." She said that the will to regulate is not the same as the ability to do so and that the future of AI regulation is uncertain.
US House Stablecoin Hearing Focuses on Competing Bills for Regulation
On May 18, 2023, the House Committee on Financial Services’ new Subcommittee on Digital Assets, Financial Technology, and Inclusion held a hearing on stablecoins. The hearing considered two proposed bills to regulate stablecoins:
- The Republican bill was published in April ahead of a hearing on stablecoins in the Financial Services Committee.
- The Democratic bill, which was introduced by Ranking Member Maxine Waters.
The biggest point of disagreement between the two bills was the issue of state versus federal regulation. The Republican bill would allow stablecoin operators to choose the state they register in, without going through the Federal Reserve Board. The Democratic bill, on the other hand, preserves access to regulation in federal hands with the appropriate regulator.
Supporters of the Republican bill argue that state-level regulation would prevent a “race to the bottom” and mirror the U.S. two-tiered federal/state banking regulatory system. Democrats were unconvinced, arguing that federal regulation would offer more uniform, consistent rules.
Another issue that came up repeatedly during the hearing was the question of national interest. Rep. Brad Sherman, an ardent opponent of cryptocurrency, claimed that a dollar-backed stablecoin would compete with the fiat dollar and undermine it, thus reducing the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions.
Other stakeholders, however, argued that stablecoins are inevitable and that the U.S. should regulate them on its terms. Matt Homer of venture capital firm The Department of XYZ said, “Off-shore issuers are as free to create dollar-backed stablecoins as U.S. issuers. We should have it done in the U.S. so we can regulate it on our terms.”
USDF Consortium CEO Robert Morgan spoke in favor of the current regulatory structure and about the advantages of tokenization for traditional banks. He described tokenization as a “third way.”
FTX Leadership Sues Sam Bankman-Fried Over $220M Deal Made Before Bankruptcy
FTX lawyers are suing former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, co-founder Zixiao Wang, and former senior executive Nishad Singh for lack of due diligence over the $220 million acquisition of stock-clearing platform Embed. FTX had paid $220 million to acquire Embed through its United States subsidiary, and allegedly “performed almost no due diligence” on the platform. However, after FTX filed for bankruptcy, the judge in charge of the proceedings approved the sales of Embed and other assets of FTX, but the top bidder for the platform offered just $1 million. According to FTX’s lawyers, the bidders had figured out what the FTX Group and FTX Insiders did not bother to assess before the Embed acquisition, namely, that Embed’s vaunted software platform was essentially worthless.
While 12 entities had submitted non-binding indications of interest, all but one declined to submit a final bid after conducting more comprehensive due diligence: Embed’s founder and former CEO, Michael Giles. According to FTX’s lawyers, Giles had “personally received approximately $157 million in connection with the acquisition,” but his final bid to regain ownership of Embed was a paltry $1 million, subject to reductions at closing. The lawyers additionally accused the FTX insiders of perpetrating a massive fraud by using misappropriated customer funds to facilitate the purchase of Embed, while fully aware that the company was insolvent when finalizing the deal.
The lawyers further alleged that misleading records were created to obscure Alameda Research’s role in funding the Embed acquisition, claiming funds had been transferred between FTX entities, not from Bankman-Fried, Singh, and Wang as claimed. FTX wants the transactions to be labeled as “avoidable fraudulent transfers and obligations, and/or preferences,” in addition to having claims made by the defendants disallowed until FTX can recoup the funds lost through avoidable transfers. FTX filed for bankruptcy on November 11, 2022, and since then, its new leadership has been focused on clawing back funds to repay customers and creditors. It has also been considering a possible relaunch of the exchange.
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