Norwegian space industry, positive futures, a primer on longevity tech, language models, major platform's EU monthly active users and what to expect in 2023
It's been a while since the last post and here's the latest from, and with it a commitment to maintain a steady flow of, the #discoveries dispatch.
What to expect in 2023
European DeepTech had a few milestones last year. For example, the Joint European Torus (JET) – largest existing fusion device in the world – achieved a record performance for sustained fusion energy. Even though the experiment lasted five seconds, the output produced was double that of a previous record that was set 25 years before. It's a big step to make fusion a safe, efficient and low carbon energy.
Another milestone deals with quantum computing. In 2022, the EU announced €7 billion to fund quantum innovation, see breakdown of technologies forming this sector. This is the world's second biggest budget, after China's €15 billion. Perhaps equally impressive is the fact that Europe has the world's largest concentration of quantum talent. The McKinsey Quantum Monitor report is a fascinating read if you want a deeper dive.
With those in mind, this year you can expect to read round ups on key technologies and sometimes the political obstacles facing their take off in Europe. These are, neural interfaces, ageing, SpaceTech, quantum computing and a few other DeepTech sectors.
Norwegian space industry
Now, back to presenting the #discoveries series as you know it, succinct and to the point. The Nordic country's space tradition dates to the 60s and Kramena Tosheva from Peter Thiel's backed SNÖ Ventures published a comprehensive list of everything orbiting Norwegian SpaceTech today.
Besides exploring out of Earth frontiers, Norwegian space operations also have a second order consequence on the arctic region. For example, Space Norway will offer the world’s first and only broadband service for civilian and military purposes. As the arctic unfortunately and irreversibly melts, making way for new seafaring routes, this is an important pillar of infrastructure.
Cynism abounds. Combine future dystopian tech imaginaries of self aware technologies (but also today surveillance capitalism) with natural and human made disasters and there can be little room left to picture a silver lining in the next decades.
However, the team behind supermind – combining human and machine work via augmented collective intelligence – published a list of stories that aim to inspire innovators of what the future could look like if we get it right.
A primer on longevity tech
This episode of the Stranded Technologies podcast is something to listen to with strong tea. It covers everything from immune system rejuvenation, the cross over between crypto currency and medicine and the business models and thinking needed to advance both.
(On) Language models
ChatGPT has entered the collective mind. Students use it to pass exams, publishers replace their writers with it, competitors fret to challenge it.
Researchers, on the other hand, are driving this domain further and earlier this year released a language model for the medical domain. MedPaLM addresses multiple choice questions by patients and medical professionals, returning results that are up 92.6% correct (doctors score 92.9%).
One area that ChatGPT – with all of the promises of the new technologies – has not entered is the global south. While traveling between the years, I noticed that it is not available throughout the Middle East. A lot could be said on the historical, colonial and corporate backdrop of this that robs people of their shot at innovation until today.
MAUs in Europe
The Digital Services Act – a piece of regulation reigning in the algorithmic and information power of big platforms in Europe by requiring technology reviews and other measures – had a big week.
Companies with more than 45 million users had to disclose the number of their monthly active users (MAUs) – as a reminder, and based on UN 2023 estimates, the EU's population is over 740 million.
Clothilde Goujard, Politico's privacy and content moderation reporter, compiled a great thread on what you might or might not have expected:
- Wikipedia: 151.5 million
- Meta/Facebook: 255 million
- Twitter: 100 million
- YouTube and Google search: 400 million and 332 million respectively
- PornHub and YouPorn: 33 million and 7.3 million respectively
- BeReal: 18 million
- Vinted: 37.4 million
- Lego: 800 thousand
- Spotify: didn't disclose but said “fewer” than 45 million
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