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OpenAI's new API, a new Ethereum standard, and Meta's leaked product roadmap. Newsletter #13
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OpenAI’s new API and ChatGPT’s rival
Tesla’s investor day
Meta’s leaked AR/VR roadmap
The new Ethereum standard
OpenAI’s New API
OpenAI has announced in its latest blog a 90% reduction in the cost of using ChatGPT since December 2022 and that they now wish to pass this onto developers through a new API.
Gpt-3.5-turbo, the model used in ChatGPT, is now available for a price of $0.002 per 1,000 tokens (one token = roughly one word of input text). OpenAI claims that accessing ChatGPT via an API is 10x cheaper than using ChatGPT directly.
This means the API can now be used by developers to build their own applications and models based on ChatGPT’s natural language processing capabilities. Snapchat, Instacart, and Shopify have already introduced features using the API.
The users of Snapchat get a customizable chatbot that will offer recommendations and even write poetry for their friends. Whilst its use in Shopify now means that users can navigate products and brands better and pick things out as if they had a personal shopping assistant.
This move will allow the power of natural language processing to be harnessed in new ways and lead to the creation of a range of new services within already existing apps.
ChatGPT’s New Rival
Although Elon Musk co-founded OpenAI, he cut off his ties in 2018 after a disagreement with the management. He’s been openly critical of ChatGPT calling it “woke” and “dangerous”. Musk and Igor Babuschkin an ex-researcher in Google’s DeepMind AI project are developing a rival chatbot to ChatGPT according to a report from The Information.
Babuschikin however said that building a chabot with fewer content safeguards is not the objective but that the goal is to:
“Improve the reasoning abilities and the factualness of these language models. That includes making sure the model’s responses are more trustworthy and reliable.”
The project is still in its early stages but it’s an exciting development in the new and fast changing world of large language models.
February inflation in the Eurozone fell slightly from 8.6% in January to 8.5%, but was still higher than the 8.2% expected by analysts. The drop is mostly due to the impact of falling energy prices but was partly offset by a surge in the price of food, services and durable goods.
Services inflation surged from 4.4% to 4.8%. Services in particular are sensitive to wage growth, and might suggest an acceleration in labour costs. Inflation also accelerated in the Eurozone’s largest members - Germany, France and Spain.
Investors are afraid that inflation is a lot stickier than expected and that this might necessitate a stricter stance by the ECB in relation to rate hikes and monetary tightening. ECB President Christine Lagarde said of the ECB’s March 16th meeting:
“It is very likely that we will raise interest rates by 50 basis points. This was a decision that was indicated at our last monetary policy meeting and all the numbers we have been seeing in recent days are confirming that this interest rate hike is very, very likely.”
The rate hikes may persist even in the next ECB meeting in May. Rises in interest rates generally slow economic activity but are an important tool in the fight to tame inflation. Eurozone inflation remains way below the double-digit figures a few months back and is showing a declining trend. Yet this stickiness does indicate that it might be around longer than initially forecast.
Tesla’s Investor Day
Tesla’s “Investor Day” took place last Wednesday but was largely viewed as disappointing. There was a lot of ambition and promise but a lack of new products. Tesla stock fell about 7% on the Thursday.
During the Q&A, when asked about how the recent developments in generative AI might help Tesla, Elon Musk seemed worried about its development, saying:
“I don’t see AI helping us make cars anytime soon. I’m a little worried about the AI stuff. I think it’s something, I don’t know, we should be concerned about. I think we need some regulatory authority or something overseeing AI development and just making sure it’s operating within the public interest.
You know, it’s quite a dangerous technology. I fear I may have done some things to accelerate it, which is, I don’t know. Tesla’s doing good things in AI, and I don’t know, this one stresses me out, so not sure what more to say about it.”
Perhaps the biggest announcement was that the new Gigafactory will be built in Mexico. Tesla intends to ramp up global production to 20 million vehicles, by 2030 a big leap over the current capacity of 1.3 million - for reference, Toyota sold 8.2 million cars in 2022.
Musk unveiled plans to move away from fossil fuels and focus on renewable energy and electric vehicles. He also stressed on usage of heat pumps as a source of domestic heating and talked about the use of green hydrogen (hydrogen produced using renewable energy sources) for steel furnaces, instead of coal.
Unfortunately, the wait for Tesla’s new affordable electric hatchback remains ongoing, as contrary to expectation, they didn’t announce anything at the event.
Nor did Tesla reveal anything specific about the Cybertruck, although the production prototype was displayed for attendees. It features a stainless steel exoskeleton with a minimalist interior. The foldable seats promise a bigger leg space and a yoke-style steering wheel.
The concrete steps on efficiency and cost-cutting are good to learn more about but it would have been nice to see more regarding the product roadmap or some sort of update on the Optimus robot.
Meta’s VR/AR Leaked Roadmap
The Verge last week reported on Meta’s plans to release its first pair of smart glasses alongside a neural interface smartwatch as soon as 2025. It also reported that Meta’s first fully-fledged AR glasses are planned for 2027. The report came as part of a leak to The Verge.
Mark Zuckerberg and the management at Meta see a future where users are spending a large portion of their time in an AR/VR world.
According to the roadmap, Meta is gearing up to release its first pair of AR smart glasses by 2024 internally for testing, and by 2027 for an official launch. Codenamed Orion, the glasses will come with a neural interface band that allows the wearer to control the glasses through hand movements, such as swiping fingers on an imaginary D-pad. Meta hopes to monetize the glasses by displaying adverts to viewers in real-time based on what and where they are looking at when wearing them.
Meta reportedly plans to launch the 3rd generation of smart glasses in 2025. These will have viewfinder displays - an actual screen to read incoming text, translate them to another language and even scan QR codes. These glasses will also have a neural interface and a smartwatch to control overlaid visuals in the world using hand gestures.
From the roadmap, it certainly seems that Meta believe and want widespread adoption of VR/AR technology to begin in this decade. I’m sure Meta investors will be hoping so too but it seems like a risky bet with the amount of money they’re spending on the development of the technology.
Ethereum's New Token Standard
A little talked about Ethereum upgrade was launched this week which heralded a new token standard, ERC-4337 (Ethereum Request for Comment - 4337), initially proposed in September 2021.
Other notable standards include ERC-721, which controls the creation and development of various forms of NFTs, and ERC-20, which governs fungible tokens and is useful in the creation of stablecoins, governance tokens and ICOs on the Ethereum network.
But unlike those two, this new standard will help boost wider adoption and make the user experience of buying/storing crypto much easier. Whilst at the moment, crypto wallet security is maintained via seed phrases (a sequence of random words that stores the data required to access or recover cryptocurrency in a wallet), ERC-4337 will allow crypto users to use and login to wallets using standard smartphone security tools like 2FA or biometrics.
The new service offers many of the same features as banks without having to trust a third-party institution with the custody of their funds. This is a big step towards making DeFi more accessible to the masses but there’s a lot of work to do yet if crypto is to become more widely adopted.
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