September 23, 2023
Issue No. 72
Welcome to this week's AtherXplorer, covering the latest in gaming, blockchain, and everything in between.
This week’s top picks include:
OpenAI Unveils DALL-E 3, Integrated with ChatGPT and Supports Text & Typography
OpenAI announced their updated text-to-image generation model, DALL-E 3. This new version delivers significant improvements over DALL-E 2, particularly in its ability to generate readable text directly within images. This addresses a limitation of DALL-E 2 and competing models like Midjourney. OpenAI noted that DALL-E 3 does a much better job understanding spatial relationships from prompts, and placing figures and objects as described.
Screenshots provided by OpenAI demonstrate the model's ability to accurately render descriptive prompts. DALL-E 3 will be integrated with ChatGPT Plus and ChatGPT for Enterprise, allowing corporate clients to generate imagery with text for marketing. ChatGPT can also help users refine prompts to better match their intent.
A video posted by OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman shows the conversational style of prompting now possible through the ChatGPT integration. While previous versions aimed to limit violent, adult, or hateful content, OpenAI wrote they've taken similar steps with DALL-E 3. The announcement was praised by an OpenAI developer relations advocate, describing the new model as "absolutely incredible."
GitHub AI-powered Copilot Chat is Now Open for Individuals
GitHub has expanded access to Copilot Chat to individual Copilot for Individual subscribers in Visual Studio and VS Code. Copilot Chat is a ChatGPT-like chatbot that resides in the IDE sidebar for multiturn conversations about coding. More importantly, developers can ask Copilot Chat questions about the specific code they are working on. Context makes Copilot Chat more useful than general assistants. The VP of Product Management at GitHub noted that Copilot Chat and Copilot form a powerful AI assistant that can help developers build at speed in their natural language of choice.
Some common Copilot Chat use cases include real-time guidance with best practices, tips, and solutions tailored to a developer's specific code. It can also assist with code analysis and fixing security issues without switching away from the IDE. GitHub's goal is to enable natural language as a new universal programming language to democratize software development, a theme their CEO has discussed. Given this, the reporter plans to ask the CEO about this vision during an onstage interview at their conference.
Microsoft Announces Copilot, Integrating DALLE-3 into Designer
Microsoft announced new capabilities coming to Copilot across their products. Microsoft 365 Copilot will become generally available for enterprise customers on November 1st. This will bring the new hero experience of Microsoft 365 Chat. Chat goes beyond simple questions and answers by understanding users, their jobs, priorities, and organizations. It can then help users with complex tasks by finding any needed files across their data and integrating them with the apps they use for work.
Copilot in Windows will begin rolling out in preview starting on September 26th, making Copilot accessible straight from the taskbar or with a keyboard shortcut. This allows Copilot to assist any apps on screens of all sizes. Bing Chat Enterprise was also updated. It is now available in the Edge mobile app and will bring support for visual search and image creation. These new features are designed to boost creativity at work while still protecting sensitive enterprise data.
New creative experiences for Copilot were announced in Outlook, Word, Excel, Loop, OneNote, Stream and OneDrive. These will further unlock productivity and help users create with AI-powered features.
Designer was highlighted for its integration of OpenAI's DALL-E 3 model. This will allow users to add original high-quality images to designs in seconds using the latest generative AI capabilities. Furthermore, Bing Chat will also leverage DALL-E 3 to deliver more personalized answers based on search history.
Amazon will Integrate Generative AI into Alexa and Fire TV Devices
Amazon revealed an updated Alexa voice assistant powered by a new large language model. According to Dave Limp, this Alexa understands conversational phrases and context better and can complete multiple requests in one command. Voice assistants have stagnated with minimal improvements in comprehension. Generative AI provides more human-like interactions and complex processing capabilities needed for the next level of home automation beyond a remote control experience.
The new Alexa LLM is optimized specifically for Alexa use cases rather than models like ChatGPT. It will roll out slowly through a US preview program due to lessons learned around cautious rollouts. The first change will be a more conversational assistant through a contextual understanding of devices, homes, and rooms. Developers can integrate products and services through new Dynamic and Action Controllers to enable features like predefined lighting scenes or initiating robot vacuums through voice.
To handle multiple requests, Alexa can complete complex routines, and device control combinations, and disambiguate new devices through contextual understanding. Initial support will focus on lights, plugs, and more over time. Users can preview the new LLM through supported Echo devices by saying "Alexa, let's chat" to be notified. While current Alexa is free, premium services from this superpowered assistant may require payment down the line.
At its Fire TV event, Amazon also introduced generative AI updates. Voice searches will be more conversational through natural language queries about actors, genres, and personal preferences.
YouTube goes “All-in” with AI-powered Tools
YouTube announced several new AI-powered tools to assist creators at its annual Made on YouTube event. A new feature called Dream Screen will allow creators to generate AI backgrounds for their YouTube Shorts by typing in prompts. Dream Screen was demonstrated, generating backgrounds instantly based on short descriptions.
Creators will also have the option to use AI-generated video topic suggestions and personalized outlines based on trending content and their existing videos. Eventually, creators will be able to remix and edit existing content using AI tools. An AI music recommendation system will suggest audio for videos based on a written description. Finally, YouTube announced an AI dubbing feature to dub videos into other languages using technology from its Aloud acquisition.
As Google has invested heavily in generative AI, YouTube has slowly introduced AI tools like video summaries. The new products could shift how creators plan, structure, and double down on certain content as AI insights inform outcomes. AI-generated content is already prevalent and these tools may make it more common, prompting identification like on TikTok.
ArtVenture Introduces Anime Transformation AI Tool
ArtVenture unveiled a new AI Anime Transformation tool on their Twitter (X) account. The tool enables users to instantly transform images into anime styles without downloads. These styles include anime, manga, Studio Ghibli, and more.
The online tool is accessible at the link provided. Users can follow video instructions on the website to transport any photo into the anime art universe. The transformation occurs immediately regardless of file download requirements.
The announcement demonstrates ArtVenture's ongoing efforts to cultivate generative AI technologies for visual art. The variety of styles allows for a diverse and artistic reimagining of source photos.
Some community members showcased the results of using this tool to transform their pictures into beautiful anime-style images.
In Other AI News…
- Google Bard can now tap directly into Gmail, Docs, Maps and more
- Lenovo launches new TruScale edge service to bring AI and ML to brick-and-mortar businesses
- LimeWire acquires BlueWillow, a Midjourney competitor
- Nvidia teams with Mercedes-Benz to design digital twins for real-life factories
- TikTok debuts new tools and technology to label AI content
CMA Preliminarily Approves Microsoft-Activision Deal
The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has given preliminary approval for Microsoft's $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Initially blocked due to concerns about cloud gaming, Microsoft recently restructured the deal by transferring cloud gaming rights for both existing and future Activision Blizzard games to Ubisoft. Xbox boss Phil Spencer hailed this development as a positive step forward.
According to the CMA, the restructured deal addresses the concerns raised during the initial review, and it potentially paves the way for final clearance. However, this decision is preliminary, and the CMA has initiated a consultation process to gather feedback from third parties until October 6th. The final decision is expected before the extended deadline of October 18th.
The consultation period aims to address the remaining concerns identified by the CMA. Microsoft has proposed remedies that, according to the CMA, should adequately resolve these issues, although they have not been fully confirmed yet.
Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have expressed optimism regarding the CMA's response. Microsoft's vice chair and president, Brad Smith, emphasized their commitment to addressing concerns related to cloud game streaming and working towards approval before the October 18th deadline. Activision Blizzard's CEO, Bobby Kotick, commended the milestone and expressed gratitude for the dedication of those involved in the merger process.
Thrilling Details Unveiled for ‘Dragon's Dogma 2’ at Capcom TGS 2023
Exciting details about the long-awaited Dragon's Dogma 2 were unveiled at during Capcom TGS 2023.
Amongst some of the details shared, we learned that players embarking on their Dragon's Dogma 2 journey will have the option to choose from four character classes: fighter, archer, mage, or thief, each offering unique combat mechanics and abilities. This choice will significantly shape their gameplay and strategies.
The presentation also introduced players to the expansive world of Dragon's Dogma 2, featuring the kingdom of Vermund and the canyon nation of Batthal. Quests from townsfolk can be obtained through various means, including distant calls and random encounters in the open world.
Adding depth to character progression, two advanced classes were revealed: the Mystic Spearhead, proficient in wielding a dual-headed spear infused with magic, and the Magick Archer, capable of launching magic-infused arrows from a distance.
To enhance immersion, the game will feature a dynamic day/night cycle, with some formidable monsters emerging only during the night. Players caught outdoors after dark can set up campfires, providing them with essential functions like healing, interacting with companions, and more.
While Dragon's Dogma 2 is confirmed to be released for Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, and PC, an official release date has yet to be announced, leaving fans eagerly anticipating its arrival.
Xbox Chief Responds to Massive Leak
Xbox chief Phil Spencer has responded to the extensive Xbox leak, addressing Microsoft employees in an internal memo. He expressed concerns about the inadvertent disclosure of Microsoft's Xbox plans during the FTC v. Microsoft case. The leaked documents contained significant revelations, including details about a disc-less Series X redesign, a 2028 Xbox featuring potential "cloud hybrid games," a new Xbox controller, unannounced Bethesda games, and even discussions about the acquisition of Nintendo.
Spencer acknowledges that Microsoft's plans may have evolved, as some of the leaked documents dated back to last year, while others were from even earlier periods. He conveys his understanding of the disappointment among employees and the gaming community, given the outdated nature of some of the information. Despite this, he emphasizes the company's commitment to sharing its "real plans" when the time is right.
In a more concise statement shared on social media, Spencer touches on the conversation surrounding the leaked emails and documents. He expresses difficulty in seeing the team's work shared in this manner but underscores the significant developments and exciting prospects that lie ahead. Spencer reiterates the intention to unveil the authentic plans at the appropriate moment, emphasizing the team's dedication and the desire to present their hard work to the community in a more controlled and timely manner.
In Other Gaming News…
Web3, Metaverse, and NFTs
Citigroup’s New Service will Allow Institutions to Transfer Money through the Blockchain
Citigroup announced the launch of a new digital token service for institutional clients called Citi Token Services. The product utilizes blockchain and smart contracts to allow quick money transfers across borders for institutions on a 24/7 basis. Rather than using public blockchains like Bitcoin, it relies on a private blockchain.
Citi Token Services aims to streamline large transactions by digitizing bank guarantees and letters of credit in trade finance. The bank partnered with shipping company Maersk on a pilot project applying the technology in their industry, where payment processing can be complex and time-consuming. Citi claimed the solution reduced transaction times from days to minutes based on this pilot. Maersk's regional manager expressed pleasure in collaborating with Citi on the successful test.
Citi has additionally applied Citi Token Services to a global cash management pilot, letting institutional clients transfer liquidity between Citi branches continuously. In an earlier report, Citi indicated the digital asset world was approaching an "inflection point", with crypto adoption driven mainly by central bank digital currencies and tokenization of real-world assets.
Web3 Gaming Announcements
Several Web3 gaming announcements were made this week:
- My Pet Hooligan released its public early access exclusively on the Epic Games Store. This announcement was accompanied by a cinematic trailer and a gameplay trailer.
- Star Atlas released SAGE Labs, its early access 2D browser-based game built entirely on Solana.
SAGE Labs allows players to explore, extract resources, scan, and craft to obtain rare Star Atlas loot. Every player’s action occurs directly on the blockchain without servers. Additionally, players can get 'Golden Tickets' offering a chance to win $1.2 million in prizes.
- Shrapnel revealed it would be launching exclusively on the Epic Games Store, inviting players to wishlist the highly anticipated FPS extracting game.
Proof of Play Raises $33M to Create On-Chain Games
Proof of Play, led by Farmville co-creator Amitt Mahajan, raised $33 million to develop Web3 games. The round was co-led by a16z and Greenoaks, and included investors from Twitch, Anchorage Digital, Mercury, Firebase, Zynga, and Alchemy. Proof of Play released a closed beta for its first game Pirate Nation in December 2022.
In its announcement, Proof of Play claimed it has overcome roadblocks players face with Web3 games through technological and product innovations that immerse players in gameplay without learning about blockchain. It stated it is committed to decentralization as Pirate Nation can run without servers or creators and it plans to open-source its framework.
The Proof of Play team includes veterans from Epic Games, Zynga, EA, Activision, and Google. Multimillion-dollar funding rounds have become common in 2023, such as CCP Games raising $40 million for a new EVE game and Hyperplay raising $12 million to expand its platform. This highlights continued interest in developing the Web3 gaming space.
Nouns Fork: Disgruntled NFT Holders Exit With $27 Million From Treasury
The Nouns NFT community experienced a fork resulting in two separate DAOs. Over half of Nouns holders, representing 472 of the 846 total NFTs, opted to join the new fork and withdrew approximately $27 million worth of ETH from the original Nouns DAO treasury. As a result, the forking holders' NFTs will be returned to the original treasury and replaced with new NFTs for the new DAO. The fork allows members to "ragequit" and withdraw their share of the treasury while forfeiting their NFT. This signals a lack of confidence in the original DAO format.
Millions of dollars from the original Nouns DAO treasury had been allocated to proliferate the brand through various projects. However, the market value of Nouns NFTs has sharply declined since peaks in late 2021/early 2022. Some members appear eager to cash out amid the bear market to recover value. One NFT holder expressed that the fork highlights a need for the DAO to recognize and address issues leading to member dissatisfaction.
Even after the fork, the original Nouns DAO retains over $21 million worth of ETH in its treasury. The remaining members can still vote on proposals and support projects under the Nouns CC0 license. A Nouns co-founder advocated for increasing spending and distributing new NFTs to fuel builders and attract new members. They noted the fork demonstrated that treasuries risk being captured if not utilized by the community.
PayPal Brings PYUSD Stablecoin to Venmo
PayPal announced that Venmo users will soon be able to purchase its Ethereum-based stablecoin PYUSD. The company said select Venmo users can already buy PYUSD, with the option rolling out to all users in the coming weeks. PYUSD is dollar-pegged and backed by cash equivalents and short-term treasuries, issued by Paxos Trust Company. Users are currently able to purchase PYUSD on major exchanges like Crypto.com, Coinbase, and Kraken. This will allow Venmo users to buy the stablecoin and send it to other Venmo users as well as PayPal wallets. PayPal stated this represents the first time users can send stablecoins between wallets with no fees, whereas sending to non-PayPal wallets would incur charges.
A stablecoin is a digital currency pegged to an asset like the US dollar, used mainly by traders to facilitate transactions when fiat is not immediately available. PayPal launched PYUSD in August with the objective of incorporating it into the payment infrastructure. However, its market cap of $44 million remains far behind stablecoin giants Tether and USD Coin with over $83 billion and $25.9 billion, respectively. Paxos Trust recently reported holding $45.3 million in reserves to back PYUSD as of last month.
This move brings cryptocurrency closer to mainstream adoption by integrating it into popular platforms like Venmo and allowing users to leverage stablecoins for payments.
PolkaWorld Halts Operations after Failed Funding Bid
Polkadot community organization PolkaWorld has halted operations after failing to secure funding from Polkadot's treasury. In a post on X, PolkaWorld claimed the new OpenGov treasury management is negatively impacting long-term contributors. According to PolkaWorld, many projects are being rejected and leaving the ecosystem. They believe the previous system of an expert council elected by DOT holders to evaluate proposals should be integrated into OpenGov.
Additionally, Brushfam founder Markian Ivanichok announced the project is leaving Polkadot. In a thread on X, Ivanichok expressed frustrations about increasingly difficult financing under Polkadot's governance. He claimed it is impossible for work to be appreciated in an ecosystem that "doesn’t care about users, about business practices and about marketing its product."
Polkadot launched OpenGov earlier in the year to empower every DOT holder with a voice through voting. Governance is now directly conducted by token holders who can actively participate in voting on proposals to enact ecosystem changes. However, some in the community have raised concerns about funding and contributor retention under the new system.
In Other Web3 & Metaverse News…
Legal Landscape, Policies, and Regulation
OpenAI Sued by George RR Martin and Other Authors for Copyright Infringement
The Authors Guild and 17 renowned authors including George R.R. Martin, Jonathan Franzen, John Grisham, and Jodi Picoult filed a lawsuit against OpenAI alleging copyright infringement. The complaint accuses OpenAI of copying their copyrighted works wholesale to train its large language models without permission or compensation. The authors argue this threatens their ability to earn income from writing original fiction, as the AI systems could generate derivative works based on or summarizing their books, harming the market. They assert that OpenAI could have used public domain works instead. OpenAI expressed optimism it is having productive conversations to understand concerns and find mutually beneficial solutions.
This lawsuit joins previous legal actions against OpenAI by authors such as Michael Chabon who sued in September for using books to train GPT without consent. Generative AI companies have faced repeated copyright issues, with other suits also targeting Meta and Microsoft partners with OpenAI amid risks of commercial Copilot users facing litigation.
Copyright presents significant challenges for generative AI as systems are built using vast amounts of textual data, requiring navigation of licensing and potential infringement in both training data and generated output. This demonstrates the complex landscape these companies must traverse.
Hong Kong Tightening Crypto Regulation in Wake of JPEX Fraud Case
Hong Kong regulators are looking to tighten crypto regulations following issues with unlicensed exchange JPEX. Over 1000 complaints were filed against JPEX totaling over $128 million in losses. Users found themselves unable to withdraw funds and faced decreasing balances after the SFC warned about the unregistered platform. In response, JPEX raised withdrawal fees to $1000 to discourage withdrawals, later blaming liquidity issues on third parties. Police arrested individuals associated with JPEX, including influencer Joseph Lam.
In response, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee stated the government will increase efforts to educate investors on only using platforms with SFC licenses. Hong Kong has emerged as a growing crypto hub in 2023 through pro-crypto policies and retail access, however, platforms like JPEX have misled many lacking awareness. The regulatory body aims to promote utilizing only licensed platforms for trading.
This enforcement action illustrates regulators' role in protecting consumers through vetting platforms and informing the public amid the expansion of the crypto market.
SEC Demands Binance US Asset Inspection, CZ Responds to Recent Rumors
The SEC is continuing its crackdown on Binance.US, demanding urgent inspection of customer assets amid its lawsuit accusing Binance entities of violating securities laws. The SEC accused Binance.US of "half-hearted" claims in denying its requests, stating expedited discovery is needed due to executives departing who possess crucial information on asset custody and control.
Though Binance.US initially agreed to cooperate, it later refused and called SEC demands unreasonable. The SEC alleges Binance.US has provided limited information on its Ceffu custody system and has "stonewalled" key information. A court hearing will address the SEC's motion to compel full cooperation.
In other news, Binance CEO CZ responded to the recent rumors about Binance US’ ex-CEO Brian Shroder, clarifying that Brian is taking a "deserved break" after his successful tenure, helping Binance.US raise funds, improve offerings, and gain market share. CZ suggested the industry now faces hostile regulation, though Reed is right to lead through this. Binance is facing SEC and CFTC lawsuits alleging unregistered securities sales and customer fund mishandling, amid claims it illegally commingled funds internationally. CZ dismissed concerns as unfounded, saying Binance has no liquidity issues.
In Other Legal & Regulatory News…
Subscribe to our newsletter today and be the first to receive Sipher news, AtherXplorer weekly issues, and new AtherXperiment posts. Sign up now and get ahead of the game!