August 26, 2023
Issue No. 68
Welcome to this week's AtherXplorer, covering the latest in gaming, blockchain, and everything in between.
This week’s top picks include:
- AI: Paralyzed Woman Regains Voice Thanks to the Power of AI and a Brain Implant
- Blockchain: Base Daily Transactions Outpace Ethereum on Friend.tech Frenzy
- Gaming: New 'Black Myth: Wukong' Gameplay Trailer Revealed
- Web3, Metaverse, and NFTs: Solana Pay Integrates a Plug-in with Shopify for USDC Payments
- Legal Landscape: Spain Just Created the First European AI Supervision Agency
Paralyzed Woman Regains Voice Thanks to the Power of AI and a Brain Implant
Ann suffered a brainstem stroke at age 30 that left her paralyzed and unable to speak or breathe on her own. Through years of recovery, she regained some mobility but important speech muscles remained immobile. She aims to counsel others with disabilities. Researchers from UCSF and UC Berkeley recruited Ann to help develop new brain-computer technology. The system can decode Ann's brain signals into synthesized speech and facial expressions, representing the first time this has been done. It can also translate her brain signals into text nearly 80 words per minute.
The team implanted a thin array of electrodes on areas of Ann's brain tied to speech muscles. Electrodes intercept signals that would normally go to those muscles. A cable relays these to a computer. Ann worked with the team to train an AI to recognize her unique speech patterns. It was trained on phonemes rather than whole words, enhancing accuracy and speed. Ann's husband witnessed her excitement as progress was made.
The researchers hope to gain FDA approval to enable speech from brain signals. Their goal is to restore natural, embodied communication. This work builds on earlier efforts translating the brain signals of a paralyzed man, Pancho, into text.
Meta Launches AI Code-writing Tool “Code Llama” and Multilingual Speech-to-Text Model “SeamlessM4T”
Meta has released a new AI tool called Code Llama, built on its Llama 2 model, to generate and debug code. It can create code from prompts or complete and fix partial code. Specific versions for Python and natural language instructions were also released. The goal is to make development more efficient. Meta claims Code Llama performs better than publicly available models but did not specify which. It will release three sizes, with the smallest fitting a single GPU.
Other code generators like GitHub Copilot and AWS CodeWhisperer also exist to quickly write and check code. Copilot is facing a copyright lawsuit for reproducing licensed code.
Separately, Meta released a multilingual speech translation model called SeamlessM4T that can translate nearly 100 languages across speech, text, and between the two. It aims to make translation more seamless like a fictional universal translator. SeamlessM4T represents an advancement by performing full translation in one go versus splitting tasks. It claims to recognize code-switching between languages.
SeamlessM4T builds on Meta's prior translation work, including a 200-language text translator. It was designed to identify and limit potentially toxic or biased translations by filtering unbalanced training data and recognizing when gendered terms are added.
Hugging Face Raises $235M, Now Valued at $4.5B — Investors include Salesforce, Nvidia, Google, Amazon, and others
AI startup Hugging Face has raised $235 million in a Series D funding round that valued the company at $4.5 billion, over 100 times its annualized revenue. This reflects a huge interest in AI development platforms. Hugging Face offers tools like a hub for AI code and models, as well as apps for creating and deploying machine learning applications. It provides paid functionality for automating model training, hosting models without infrastructure management, and faster processing of data for deployed models.
The company's CEO sees AI as the biggest software paradigm shift and Hugging Face wants to be the open platform powering this. Founded in 2016, it originally built a chatbot but then pivoted to AI development tools. It now has 10,000 customers and over 1 million code repositories on its hub. With 43% of businesses planning increased AI investment, the MLOps market is substantial. Hugging Face contributes resources to open models like Bloom, a multilingual model available on its hub. It also collaborated on code generation models and chatbots.
Partnerships extend Hugging Face's reach through cloud providers like expanding access via Nvidia and AWS integration. It will use funds to further support research, enterprises, and startups. With 170 employees currently, it plans significant hiring as interest in AI tools continues growing strongly.
OpenAI Partners with Scale AI to Allow Companies to Fine-tune GPT-3.5
OpenAI, known for ChatGPT, plans to work with third parties to make it easier for developers, especially enterprises, to customize its AI models using proprietary data. It announced a partnership with Scale AI, a data labeling company, to combine Scale's fine-tuning tools with OpenAI's GPT-3.5 text generator. Fine-tuning allows tailoring models for specific tasks like matching brand voice.
Scale customers will be able to prepare data on its Data Engine platform and then fine-tune GPT-3.5 with their data, enabling it to reference proprietary information. Scale says fine-tuned models will be reviewed by experts to ensure performance and safety standards. The collaboration incorporates OpenAI's fine-tuning APIs and Scale's fine-tuning expertise from over seven years of AI solutions. Scale is OpenAI's preferred partner for deploying high-quality, impactful models for customers.
The news comes after OpenAI said it would let customers fine-tune the lightweight GPT-3.5 Turbo using its API, and hinted at an in-house tuning tool. OpenAI's COO said the partnership allows serving customers wherever they are by extending capabilities to more companies through Scale's leadership and experience helping organizations leverage enterprise data for AI. Customers can fine-tune OpenAI models through OpenAI or Scale, benefiting from both companies' expertise. The COO declined to comment on future fine-tuning partners for models like GPT-4.
YouTube and Universal Music Group Join Forces to Explore the Future of AI Music
YouTube has launched the Music AI Incubator program with its inaugural partner Universal Music Group to explore AI's role in music creation and distribution. This marks a significant shift that could redefine how music is made and shared, with the two entities guiding this transformation.
The incubator aims to be a hub where artists, songwriters, and producers can experiment with AI technology. Involved artists include Anitta, ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus, and the estates of Max Richter and Frank Sinatra. YouTube recognizes AI must benefit partners to succeed.
The recent controversy saw Spotify remove thousands of AI-generated songs from DistroKid over copyright accusations from UMG. Other platforms also face criticism for hosting AI music without proper attribution. Experts debate if AI music constitutes plagiarism or legitimate expression, as no regulations yet govern this field.
YouTube's partnership could address these issues by establishing a framework for responsible, collaborative AI music. However, it may face opposition from other major labels like Sony and Warner, known as the "Big Three" controlling 69% of the global market. These labels have competing interests and clashed over licensing and royalties in the past.
They also have their own AI initiatives, such as Sony investing in startups and Warner acquiring an AI company. Both have experimented with using AI for marketing and distribution. The rise of AI music presents many challenges and opportunities for the industry and artists to navigate, such as legal, ethical, and artistic implications. YouTube and UMG will have to consider other players' agendas in shaping the future of the field.
Microsoft Paint Could soon get AI-enhanced Features on Windows 11
Microsoft may be looking to bring AI capabilities to Paint in Windows 11, according to a report. This could include generating a canvas based on a text prompt, powered by the same technology behind Bing Image Creator. An internal mock-up showed a "Magic Paint" button and sidebar to describe an image for it to generate, which could then be tweaked on the canvas.
In addition to Paint, Microsoft is reportedly exploring AI tools for Photos, Camera, and Snipping Tool. For Photos, this may involve identifying people and objects to cut and paste in other areas of photos. For the Snipping Tool and Camera app, Microsoft could potentially add optical character recognition to both, allowing text to be identified and copied from photos or screenshots.
In Other AI News…
- a16z-backed AI video generator Irreverent Labs raises funding from Samsung Next
- Ideogram launches AI image generator with impressive typography
- Midjourney adds new ‘vary (region)’ feature to rival Photoshop Generative Fill
- OpenAI now allows enterprises to fine-tune GPT-3.5 Turbo
- Snapchat is expanding further into generative AI with ‘Dreams’
Blockchain and DeFi
Base Daily Transactions Outpace Ethereum on Friend.tech Frenzy
According to recent data, Coinbase’s latest Ethereum Layer-2 scaling solution “Base” saw over 1.37 million daily transactions, surpassing Ethereum's slightly over 1 million.
Base's growth is largely attributable to the social media app Friend.tech, which allows users to buy and sell shares of friends' social profiles. This concept has gained popularity, especially among celebrities. However, some note that bots and spammers aiming to benefit from Friend.tech's hype account for many Base transactions.
Still, Friend.tech's success means transactions are increasing as more people join. Total protocol fees generated on Base are fast approaching $6 million. The mobile app links Twitter accounts to tokenized profiles, where buying "keys" to another's account provides exclusive chat access and potential token value fluctuations.
However, Base lags Ethereum in other metrics. Decentralized exchange volumes on Ethereum far exceed Base at $836 million versus $8.25 million. Ethereum also has over $22 billion total value locked compared to Base's $180 million. While daily transactions recently surpassed Ethereum due to Friend.tech, Ethereum maintains stronger adoption according to other usage measures.
PancakeSwap Version 3 Goes Live on Ethereum Layer 2 Linea Mainnet
Decentralized exchange PancakeSwap version 3 has expanded to the Linea mainnet blockchain built by Consensys, aiming to attract new users and generate revenue. PancakeSwap is already available on other chains like Ethereum, BNB Chain, Polygon, and Arbitrum. Traders can now access the DEX on Linea to trade tokens at lower fees and improved capital efficiency following a successful testnet phase.
Linea, formerly known as ConsenSys zkEVM, uses zero-knowledge proofs with full Ethereum Virtual Machine computing to provide faster transactions and reduced gas costs without compromising security. EVMs are the virtual computers where all Ethereum accounts and smart contracts reside. Zero-knowledge proofs enable proving a transaction's validity without publicly revealing its data.
On Linea, PancakeSwap v3 introduces advanced Swap and Liquidity Provision functionality for a seamless trading experience. Liquidity providers who provide capital can maximize efficiency by concentrating assets in price ranges with the most volume. They can leverage their locked holdings for a capital multiplier of up to 4,000x, generating higher returns during volatility.
PancakeSwap is expected to bring its farm feature to Linea in the coming months, allowing users to stake LP tokens and earn its native CAKE tokens. This enables attracting new users and building revenue streams by utilizing Linea's faster and cheaper transactions while maintaining security.
PEPE Plummets 17% as Team Transfers Millions to Exchanges
The price of PepeCoin (PEPE) plunged over 17% after millions of dollars worth of PEPE tokens were transferred from the project's wallet to exchanges. This wiped $100 million from its market cap, dropping it from $444 million to $344 million.
The team's multi-signature Ethereum wallet sent over 16 trillion PEPE tokens worth around $16.85 million to Binance, OKX, KuCoin, and Bybit exchanges. A multi-sig wallet requires multiple signatures for transactions. Subsequently, the parameters for the wallet were changed from requiring five of eight signatures to just two. The wallet still held over 10 trillion PEPE worth around $9.61 million.
The large unannounced transfers triggered alarms in the community and a sell-off, given the lack of communication from PepeCoin's Twitter account. Crypto analyst Miles Deutscher noted while profit-taking is normal, the suddenness and secrecy of the transactions alongside no communication raised red flags. He questioned if there was an internal dispute and why this was not mentioned publicly.
Deutscher said these unknowns justified a price repricing downward. However, for high-risk investors, PEPE was nearing key support levels where a positive response could make it a good buying opportunity. But most should wait to better understand the situation as clarity emerges. PEPE's last reported market cap was $375 million.
In Other Blockchain & DeFi News…
New 'Black Myth: Wukong' Gameplay Trailer Revealed at Gamescom 2023, the Anticipation is High!
"Black Myth: Wukong," developed by Game Science, has gained significant attention at Gamescom 2023. Following its success at the Opening Night Live event, the game is anticipated for a 2024 release. At the expo's booth, attendees faced a two-hour wait to play the game due to its popularity. Impressions from players, like a German IT engineer, highlighted the impressive graphics and overall design.
This year's Gamescom has witnessed a notable increase in Chinese exhibitors, with around 30 Chinese companies, including Tencent, NetEase, and Perfect World, participating. Unlike previous years, these companies are showcasing their offerings as independent exhibitors rather than a collective presence. Prominent Chinese games such as "Genshin Impact" and "Naraka Bladepoint" demonstrate China's progress beyond its mobile market reputation.
Wang Zheng, General Manager overseeing games and e-sports at Tencent's Interactive Entertainment Group, emphasized that computer games foster intercultural communication. Tencent develops games with cultural sensitivity, integrating local elements to cater to overseas players. NetEase is also expanding internationally, collaborating with leading developers to create new games incorporating their expertise in artificial intelligence.
Gamescom 2023 has drawn a record 1,220 exhibitors from 63 countries and regions. The event, which remains open until August 27, serves as a platform for showcasing the latest developments in the gaming industry.
Pearl Abyss Releases New Crimson Desert Gameplay Trailer
Pearl Abyss, the developer of Black Desert Online, revealed a new trailer for the upcoming open-world RPG Crimson Desert during Gamescom. The trailer featured 4K gameplay footage highlighting the protagonist Kliff exploring the region of Hernand along with other areas in the sprawling open world. NPCs and wrestling-inspired combat moves were also shown.
The trailer showed some of the game's traversal abilities like skydiving and climbing buildings and trees used by Kliff. Minigames featured include fishing, arm-wrestling, and taming wild horses.
Crimson Desert is being developed on Pearl Abyss' proprietary BlackSpace Engine for realistic next-gen graphics. It depicts the story of mercenaries fighting for survival on the continent of Pywel. While aiming for a simultaneous global PC and console launch, the studio CEO previously stated a fall 2023 targeted release window.
The new trailer gave the first extended look at Crimson Desert gameplay since 2020. In addition to showcasing Kliff's exploration of Hernand and combat, it also showed traversal methods and some minigames involving fishing, arm wrestling, and horse taming. Developed on the BlackSpace Engine, Crimson Desert takes place in the expansive open world of Pywel where mercenaries battle to survive. However, an exact release date beyond a general fall 2023 window remains unconfirmed.
Sony Announces PlayStation Portal, Pulse Explore, and Pulse Elite
Sony announced it will launch its handheld remote-play device called the PlayStation Portal later this year for $200. It also revealed more details on PlayStation-branded wireless earbuds and a new headset. All devices utilize new PlayStation Link technology for low-latency lossless audio from the Portal and PS5.
First revealed as Project Q, the Portal features an 8-inch LCD screen between halves of a DualSense controller grip. Players use WiFi to link the Portal to their PS5 for remote access to installed games only - it does not support cloud streaming.
The Pulse Explore and Pulse Elite earbuds are positioned as wireless audio solutions compatible with the Portal, which also has an audio jack. Sony will sell a USB dongle allowing PlayStation Link audio across multiple consoles by switching connections. While prices are $200 and $150 respectively, release windows were not specified for the audio devices.
The Portal will allow playing PS5 games remotely on an 8-inch screen resembling half of each DualSense controller joined together. Connecting via WiFi prompts the PS5 games' remote access only; cloud streaming remains in testing. Sony also announced wireless earbuds and a headset utilizing new low-latency audio technology compatible with the Portal and PS5 through optional USB dongle switching between devices.
Gala NFT Mystery Boxes: Unveiling Thrills in Web3 Gaming
Gala Games has unveiled Gala NFT Mystery Boxes, offering users an engaging unboxing experience reminiscent of opening collectible card packs like Pokemon. These boxes contain three assorted NFTs and provide the thrill of discovering rare and valuable items. Notably, Gala NFT Mystery Boxes are integrated with GalaChain, ensuring gas-free interactions for purchasing and opening NFTs, which hold intrinsic value contributing to ongoing games or future releases.
With tiers ranging from Bronze to Diamond, catering to various budgets, the boxes feature NFTs of differing rarity and power. Gala has focused on creating an immersive unboxing journey, aiming for seamless GalaChain transactions and eliminating gas fees.
Beyond NFTs, Gala NFT Mystery Boxes introduce surprise "chests" containing both in-game NFTs and cryptocurrency rewards like GALA tokens, integral to Gala's ecosystem, and SILK cryptocurrency for the Spider Tank universe. The level of the box determines the tokens users discover, amplifying the excitement and value of each unboxing.
By applying the anticipation of traditional trading cards to blockchain gaming through Gala NFT Mystery Boxes, Gala Games aims to foster accessibility and enjoyment in the Web3 gaming landscape.
Baldur's Gate 3: Major Update Addresses Bugs and Enhances Gameplay
Larian Studios has launched a substantial update for Baldur's Gate 3, addressing numerous issues in the game. The update focuses on fixing around 1000 bugs, balancing, and flow issues, among other improvements. The sheer scale of the update led to patch notes exceeding Steam's text limit. Since the game's recent launch, players have collectively spent an impressive 200 million hours playing, equivalent to over 22,000 years.
The update addresses various aspects of the game, such as NPCs not spotting players when they shouldn't, and providing better stealth opportunities. Objects that previously floated above surfaces due to odd physics have been fixed, ensuring items like mugs and newspapers stay where they should. Larian is also enhancing the overall polish of Baldur's Gate 3, including refining interactions like kissing animations and catering to characters of varying heights.
The studio playfully announced the return of "Short King Summer" to illustrate these improvements, showcasing charming animations of shorter characters engaging in romantic moments. Meanwhile, the second update is anticipated to arrive shortly, promising significant performance enhancements.
Interestingly, this major update coincided with Larian's announcement that Baldur's Gate 3 will be available on Xbox consoles later in the year. Larian collaborated with Xbox head Phil Spencer at Gamescom, revealing their solution to bring the RPG to Microsoft's consoles included omitting the Series S split-screen.
Epic Games Offers 100% Revenue to Developers for 6 Months via “Epic First Run” Exclusivity Deal
The Epic First Run program from Epic Games offers developers the chance to claim 100% of their game's revenue if they agree to a six-month exclusivity deal with the Epic Games Store. Afterward, the revenue split becomes the standard 88% for developers and 12% for Epic Games. The initiative applies to new games launching on or after October 16, not released on other third-party PC stores.
Despite exclusivity, developers can still release their products on other platforms and use the Epic Games Store's keyless redemption to offer the Epic version on stores like Green Man Gaming. The program aims to incentivize exclusivity, potentially limiting availability on competing platforms like Steam.
Participating products in the Epic First Run program gain prominent store placement, exclusive badges, and dedicated collections. They feature in relevant store campaigns, ensuring continued exposure. Tim Sweeney, Epic's CEO, expects more high-profile exclusives on the store, refining their strategy based on past successes and failures.
Sweeney noted that major exclusives drew users, especially from Steam, while smaller games struggled due to player reluctance to switch platforms. This insight informs Epic's approach to securing exclusives that can drive a significant user base. Overall, the Epic First Run program seeks to attract developers by offering exclusive periods and enhanced store visibility, aligning with Epic's strategy to establish the Epic Games Store as a preferred platform.
In Other Gaming News…
Web3, Metaverse, and NFTs
Solana Pay Integrates a Plug-in with Shopify for USDC Payments
Solana Pay, the payments protocol built on the Solana blockchain, has integrated with the e-commerce platform Shopify, allowing its millions of merchants to accept payments through the system. Initial support will be for USDC, the second largest stablecoin, though other cryptocurrencies may be added later.
USDC was chosen first given its close peg to the US dollar, making it more acceptable to most merchants. Shopify accounts for 10% of US e-commerce and $444 billion in global commerce. Solana Pay has seen adoption from payment processors and crypto companies.
The integration allows almost fee-free transactions for merchants, as a Solana transaction averages just $0.00025. While Solana has faced past downtime, it reported 100% uptime in Q2. Shopify also launched its merchant credit card in July.
Solana Pay can help merchants easily set up loyalty programs using NFT tokens rewarded on returns. Some Solana-focused brands are integrating it as well. Any wallet supporting Solana Pay, like Phantom, can connect.
Shopify already works with other crypto payment options. Solana Labs views its network as ideal for fast, low-cost payments without intermediaries or waiting times that can hurt in-store experiences. This integration brings Solana Pay to millions of new merchants.
Doodles Announces Inkubator Phase 2 Details
The Doodles Community Council announced details for Phase 2 of the Inkubator launchpad. In Phase 1, they were able to fund six global community event grants from locations like Tokyo and Chicago, showing the program's reach. Two requests for proposals were also fulfilled, hiring an artist in residence and sending teams to an event.
Commercial experiment grants and custom proposal grants are now open for submissions through the Inkubator website. Commercial experiments allow testing business ideas with grant funding to explore viability and potential for the inkubation process. Custom proposals are for unique ideas that don't fit other categories.
The council has been overwhelmed by event proposals in the short time the forum has been active. As a result, they will only consider events in the last quarter of 2022 and the first of 2024, using the third quarter to address proposals and make improvements. They are excited to see the creative ideas the community submits.
The Inkubator's success relies on community involvement, and the council welcomes seeing innovative submissions. More information is available on the Inkubator website. The Community Council also invited questions on their upcoming Doodle Sesh recap of Phase 1 and discussion of Phase 2 details.
Xterio Announces “Pro-Creator” Marketplace in Response to OpenSea’s Change to Optional Creator Royalties
Xterio announced an upcoming NFT marketplace in response to OpenSea moving away from enforcing creator royalties. Xterio stated it stands with builders and its "pro-creators marketplace is coming soon."
Xterio believes that to sustainably grow Web3, creators must be appropriately incentivized to build, distribute, manage, and update their work. The marketplace will strive to foster the next generation of NFTs and ensure values like balancing creators, minters, holders, and traders.
More details will be provided on their $XTER ecosystem token, rewards, and incentives program, and partner collections. Co-founders Michael and Jeremy said the marketplace aims to paradigm shift the landscape.
They expect it to launch within weeks, not months, and deliver novel minting, holding, and trading rewards. From sustainable rewards and token distribution to NFT management and wallet options, Xterio intends to transform the NFT industry by realigning incentives to cater equitably to all stakeholders.
MercedesBenzNXT Announces its Next Core Collection “Mercedes-Benz NXT Icons”
Mercedes-Benz NXT announced its next core collection called Mercedes-Benz NXT Icons, which takes users on a journey through Mercedes-Benz's design heritage featuring past and present icons. The initial collection Maschine explored motion themes inspired by car spokes.
Icons examines automotive design history through digital reinterpretations of notable designs created by Mercedes-Benz's design team head. It connects the past, present, and future through "trading card" style digital collectibles popularized in the NFT space.
The story spans seven eras from the present day to early automotive history. Each era will include approximately 2,700 collectibles totaling 18,860 pieces. Eras will be released every few months, with more information shared on the first-era designs and trait varieties.
A mint pass to claim for Icons was announced for Maschine and Eternities token holders as a thank-you for support. One pass is eligible per token, though secondary purchases do not indicate prior use. Eligible collectors should visit the official URL to connect their wallet and claim passes one by one in separate transactions now or later.
Only collectors in listed EU countries, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, the UK, the US, and Taiwan can claim due to regulations, with more countries aimed to be added. Security reminders warned not to click unofficial links and that mints require seven days’ notice on official channels.
Quest 3 Leaked via Unboxing Video
A video was posted on X showing someone unboxing a VR headset that appears to be Meta's upcoming Quest 3, even though it isn't scheduled for release until fall. The device came in a brown box containing the headset and two Touch Plus controllers, matching what Meta revealed in June.
It's not surprising Meta may have final retail boxes ready, as a new VR headset matching the Quest 3's description recently appeared in the FCC database, indicating approval for sale in the US. Meta is likely preparing for rollout soon. The company also promised more Quest 3 details at its September 27th Meta Connect event, a prime announcement spot.
This isn't the first high-profile leak of an unreleased Quest model. About a month before its unveiling last October, images and video of the Meta Quest Pro surfaced after being left in a hotel room.
While details on the Quest 3 are still forthcoming, seeing someone unpack what looks exactly like the previewed device indicates Meta's process may involve prepping final packaging ahead of schedule. With the headset passing FCC standards and Meta's upcoming Connect show, where they said new details would be shared, an imminent launch appears foreseeable.
Web3 Digital Experience & Loyalty Program Platform RECUR Shutting Down
Known for its onboarded IPs such as Hello Kitty, Star Trek, and Nickelodeon, RECUR announced it will deprecate its platform effective November 16, 2023, due to unforeseen business challenges. They thanked the RECUR community for being integral to the platform.
By August 18, 2023, main transaction functions like primary/secondary sales will be disabled for Powered by RECUR experiences. No new primary sales/trades can occur. Asks will delist. Withdrawals/cashouts are allowed until August 31. New account creation also halts.
For Built on RECUR, the same changes apply by August 31. Cashouts are allowed until then. Withdrawals can begin August 31 for any topped-up balance.
November 9 disables NFT deposits. By November 16, all site functionality halts including withdrawals, cashouts, and pack openings. Sites go offline by November 22 at the latest.
RECUR is migrating media/attributes to permanent IPFS/Filecoin storage by November 22 to retain access. Cashouts convert to USDC until November 16.
Unpacked NFTs remain on blockchain but cannot reopen after November 16. Smart contract ownership may transfer to Builders. Brands decide future licensing. Withdrawals to self-custody wallets are needed before deprecation.
In Other Web3 & Metaverse News…
Legal Landscape, Policies, and Regulation
Spain Just Created the First European AI Supervision Agency
Spain recently created the Spanish Agency for the Supervision of Artificial Intelligence (AESIA), which will be the first regulatory body of its kind in the EU focused on AI. This aligns with Spain's National Strategy on Artificial Intelligence and their Digital Agenda 2026, which aims to develop an inclusive, sustainable, and citizen-centered approach to AI.
The strategy is part of Spain's post-pandemic Recovery, Transformation, and Resiliency Plan approved in 2021. This new governmental body established Spain as the first European country with an agency specifically regulating AI, anticipating the EU's work to standardize regulations.
The EU parliament approved a new Artificial Intelligence Act in June to oversee increasingly influential AI technologies. While some argue AI will eliminate many jobs, others believe the workforce will simply retrain as jobs evolve. Social media platforms claim AI will reshape employment.
Spain's announcement acknowledged AI's "unquestionable" advancement globally. The nation has made other strides by allowing renowned tokenization firms to launch services and approving crypto companies like Crypto.com to operate locally last month, opening its markets.
Sam Bankman-Fried Pleads Not Guilty to Latest Indictment
Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty again to fraud and money laundering charges related to the collapse of FTX during an arraignment hearing. A new indictment alleged he used customer funds for personal real estate and political donations. Bankman-Fried's defense requested he have access to internet-enabled laptops in detention to review discovery documents, which they claim numbers in the millions, but the judge had previously rejected this.
Bankman-Fried attended the hearing while detained, conversing with his attorneys beforehand. His mother was present in the gallery. Conditions at the Metropolitan Detention Center, where he is held, were a focus. Bankman-Fried is subsisting on only bread and water due to a lack of vegan options. He also has not received his prescribed ADHD medication or antidepressant, which his defense argued will hamper his ability to assist in his defense against complicated charges.
The judge said she would look into resolving the issues regarding food, medication, and internet access. Prosecutors asked the court to order more details from the defense on Bankman-Fried's proposed advice-of-counsel defense. His trial is set for early October, with both sides recently filing proposed jury instructions. The hearing addressed his continued detention, the challenges of preparing his defense from prison, and the next steps in the legal process.
Ex-OpenSea Exec Receives 3-Month Sentence in NFT Insider Trading Case
Nathaniel Chastain, the former head of product at NFT marketplace OpenSea, was sentenced to three months in prison for insider trading involving NFTs. While at OpenSea, Chastain decided which NFTs received promotions, and he used that knowledge to profit by purchasing assets before they were featured. The FBI accused him of making over $50,000 illegally and was ordered to return the funds.
His lawyers argued NFTs aren't securities and the information wasn't confidential, but a judge allowed the fraud and money laundering case to proceed. Chastain had resigned from OpenSea months prior after an investigation found misconduct. Crypto Twitter users had already linked burner wallets used in the schemes back to Chastain.
Insider trading involves trading securities using nonpublic information rather than fulfilling obligations to one's employer. Other digital asset cases have also centered around this. Former Coinbase product manager Ishan Wahi received two years in prison for conspiracy related to using insider knowledge of upcoming token listings. He obtained $1.1 million in profits alongside his family. The SEC also pursued claims against Wahi in a separate lawsuit that was later settled.
Both cases demonstrate authorities are willing to apply existing laws around insider trading to digital assets and prosecute schemes involving illicit profits from nonpublic knowledge obtained through work in the crypto space.
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