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TikTok Ban in NYC, Robots Take Another Leap, and OpenAI's Big Acquisition.
NYC Takes a Stand Against TikTok
Robot Autonomy Leaps Forward
VinFast's Nasdaq Debut
OpenAI Acquires Global Illumination
NYC Takes a Stand: TikTok Faces New Bans and Scrutiny
In a move echoing sentiments from various states across the country, NYC has banned the use of TikTok on all city-issued devices. The decision follows concerns surrounding potential security vulnerabilities from China, home to TikTok's parent company, ByteDance.
The directive, effective immediately, instructs all agencies to remove the app from city-owned hardware within a month. This advice stemmed from a security review conducted by the NYC Cyber Command.
The worries over TikTok were highlighted when the U.S. House of Representatives restricted TikTok's usage on government devices last December.
The debate reached a fever pitch in March when TikTok's CEO, Shou Zi Chew, appeared before Congress. Subjected to five hours of rigorous questioning, the central theme revolved around concerns over China leveraging the app for espionage.
The narrative is further complicated by last year's revelation that ByteDance employees were monitoring journalists through the app.
While TikTok’s past actions remain a cause for concern, the broader question looms: Is the worry surrounding TikTok purely based on its Chinese ownership and speculative threats, or is there concrete evidence that remains to be seen?
With China's considerable sway over its private sectors and the global tech landscape changing rapidly, TikTok's future hangs in the balance.
Robot Autonomy Leaps Forward: From Guidance to Self-learning
The recent instances of robots captured on video, nimbly navigating through doors or adeptly handling tasks like opening a dishwasher are impressive.
But there's a lesser-known fact: many of these tasks involved significant human intervention, either through real-time manual remote guidance or via a one-time demonstration, after which the robot simply repeats the memorized activity.
ETH Zurich's latest research heralds a seismic shift in this landscape. This breakthrough requires only "minimal manual guidance," streamlining the teaching process into three stages:
A user outlines the scenario and action.
The robot conceptualizes a slightly complex pathway.
This pathway is then distilled into the most efficient route possible.
The implication of this research is profound. Beyond the current achievement, the team envisions this as a foundational step towards crafting an "autonomous loco-manipulation pipeline."
In simpler terms, it's an ambitious stride towards robots that can seamlessly perform tasks, such as door opening, devoid of human intervention. The dawn of fully autonomous robots might just be around the corner.
VinFast's Nasdaq Debut: An Impressive Valuation Amidst Stock Volatility
Vietnamese electric vehicle manufacturer VinFast made a striking entrance into the Nasdaq last Tuesday. Through a merger with Black Spade Acquisition, the company saw its shares surge by 68%, closing at $37.06, giving it a market cap of about $86 billion - more than auto giants like Ford and GM!
Over the next 3 days its share fells nearly 59% and it now sits at $15.40, giving it market cap of $41.6 billion despite never making a profit.
Such valuation figures are particularly remarkable when looking at the company’s recent history - it delivered just 7,400 vehicles in 2022.
Its ambitions, though grand, currently overshadow its revenue. With plans to penetrate the US market, VinFast is gearing up to construct a $2 billion EV factory in North Carolina and open showrooms in California, among other states.
99% of the company’s stock is owned by founder Pham Nhat Vuong which makes the stock's tiny number of outstanding shares highly susceptible to volatility. Just $44 million worth of VinFast's shares were traded on Thursday, compared to turnover of $27 billion in Tesla which fell 2.8%.
This all poses the question: what's the reason behind this investor magnetism and stock fluctuation? The quest to discover the next EV powerhouse akin to Tesla certainly contributes.
While VinFast's share volatility might persist, its real challenge lies ahead. The company's endeavour to ramp up production and appeal to the American consumer with its range of EVs will be under scrutiny.
The journey ahead for VinFast promises to be an eventful one.
OpenAI Acquires Renowned AI Design Studio, Global Illumination
OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, has announced its acquisition of Global Illumination. The New York-based AI startup is known for employing AI in crafting pioneering creative tools, infrastructures, and digital interactions.
This acquisition marks OpenAI's first public acquisition since its inception nearly seven years ago. Though the specifics of the agreement remain undisclosed, OpenAI shared its enthusiasm about the union on its official blog, mentioning that Global Illumination's full team has come aboard to contribute to core projects, notably ChatGPT.
Founded by the innovative trio of Thomas Dimson, Taylor Gordon, and Joey Flynn in 2021, Global Illumination's illustrious journey is punctuated by support from esteemed VC entities like Paradigm, Benchmark, and Slow.
One of the recent marvels from Global Illumination’s house is 'Biomes', an open-source, web-built MMORPG bearing a resemblance to Minecraft. The game's future trajectory remains uncertain in light of this acquisition, but it's likely the team’s focus will shift away from entertainment-centric projects.
OpenAI, which had previously shied away from acquisitions, has strong financial backing from Microsoft and major venture capitalists. The company, known for investing in up-and-coming AI businesses, aims high with its commercial objectives.
While ChatGPT earned global applause, its development reportedly incurred costs of around $540 million for OpenAI last year. With a revenue of $30 million during the same period, new sources of revenue are vital if the company is to survive.
OpenAI's CEO, Sam Altman, seems optimistic, eyeing a jump to $200 million this year and setting sights on a whopping $1 billion in 2024.
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