RV Blog Investing Postcards from the Exponential Age

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Hi Visionaries,

This week, Exponentialist co-creator David Mattin wanted to share some short “postcards” on five of the key emerging technologies that are reshaping our world.

From the rise of humanoids and AI companions (yes, as in friends) to election chaos, the emerging space economy, and next-gen nuclear power, the human race is staring down an overwhelming stream of startling technological innovations. 

So what to do? Put blinders on and surrender? 

If that’s your answer, you’re clearly not a Visionary. No one knows exactly what the distant future will hold, but here at Real Vision, we’re focused on preparing for the near-term technological shifts so we can profit from the Exponential Age and ride the long-term secular waves. 

Without further ado, here’s David. 

Postcard #1: Ready to be friends with Apple’s new AI companion? 

Ahead of Apple’s WWDC event in June, a new research paper offers an early glimpse of what the company is cooking in its AI lab.

The paper introduces ReALM (Reference Resolution As Language Modeling): a multi-modal AI model that can understand both natural language conversation and on-screen content.

Why does this have tech watchers talking?

When it comes to this generative AI moment, we’ve all been waiting patiently for Apple to make its move. It’s widely expected the company will make a series of AI announcements at the upcoming WWDC.

Now, with ReALM, it looks as though the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. ReALM’s ability to understand both user conversation and on-screen content means it can underpin a major upgrade of Siri, Apple’s on-device AI assistant.

This isn’t just about a better AI assistant. It’s about the AI conversational companion of our dreams: a guide, counsellor, and AI friend that knows us better than anyone and is there to talk 24/7. The Exponentialist will be watching WWDC closely.

Startups are also racing to create this kind of all-purpose virtual companion. But Apple can roll one out to over 1 billion iPhone users. The race is theirs to lose.

Postcard #2: Microsoft warns: get ready for AI-feuled election chaos

A new report from Microsoft says China is using state-backed cyber groups to target 2024’s high-profile elections, including those in India, South Korea, and the U.S.

Published by Microsoft Threat Intelligence, the report warned that Beijing-sponsored social media actors are posing as genuine U.S. voters to post divisive political content.

Meanwhile, a group known as Storm-1376 is working to seed conspiracy theories around current events. In the wake of a November train derailment in Kentucky, for example, Storm-1376 accounts spread anti-U.S. conspiracy theories and asked whether the U.S. government may have intentionally caused the incident.

But the real exponential shift here? Microsoft’s threat team says state-backed groups are now making use of AI to supercharge their disinformation campaigns. Right now, human-made content still predominates. But that, says the report, could change fast.

Just one more signal, then, of a phenomenon David and Raoul have discussed. Rapid advances in generative AI have democratised the creation of sophisticated deepfake content. And now we’re about to watch the first U.S. presidential election cycle fought in the age of AI.

Think super-convincing deepfake videos of Biden and Trump. A wave of disinformation on WhatsApp. And a whole lot of chaos on X.

We’re going to need new answers, and fast. Welcome to politics in the Exponential Age…

Postcard #3: NASA wants the Moon to have its own timezone

The U.S. government has asked NASA to establish a definitive answer to the question: what time is it on the Moon?

A new memo sent to NASA by the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy says the agency has until 2026 to establish a ‘Coordinated Lunar Time’ (CLT).

The challenge? CLT must run differently to the way our time zones work on Earth. Lower gravity on the lunar surface means time runs slower than it does on our planet, gaining around 58 microseconds per Earth day. It’s a tiny difference, but over time it compounds and if left unadjusted it will cause chaos for communications and satellite technologies.

All of this is happening as NASA gears up for its Artemis programme: a series of missions intended to put humans back on the Moon in 2026.

The deeper point here? Via NASA’s Artemis missions back to the moon, the vast contribution made by SpaceX, and a flourishing ecosystem of startups, a new space economy is set to bloom into life. See startups such as Varda Space Industries, which last month successfully used an orbiting satellite to formulate an HIV medicine in microgravity conditions. The Exponentialist will be diving deep on Varda and other space startups soon.

This lunar and space economy is just firing up. If it’s to function, we need an agreed and standard Moon Time. The coming of CLT, then, sends a powerful message: the Exponential Age is pushing beyond Earth.

Postcard #4: New study: use of ChatGPT at work is accelerating fast 

New data from Pew Research shows that use of ChatGPT for work purposes is in steep ascent.

A full 20% of the U.S. adults surveyed by Pew in February said they’ve used ChatGPT for work tasks, up from just 12% in the middle of last year.

Amid the lightspeed AI advances we’ve all seen across the last 24 months, here is further evidence that momentum is still gathering. The proportion of U.S. adults using ChatGPT for work has more than doubled in a year.

And we’re still so early. The Exponentialist is watching closely. And launching a series on how you can put AI to work to supercharge yourself.

Domain-specific AI models are still to come to multiple industries. Startups will find new ways to integrate LLMs into workflows for all kinds of professionals, from doctors, to architects, to marketers and far beyond. New unicorns will arise.

The opportunities — as investors, and human beings — are endless. Let’s make sure we all tap into them.

Postcard #5: Next-generation nuclear power is coming to the U.S. 

A nuclear energy startup backed by Bill Gates says it will start building the first next-generation nuclear power plant in the U.S. in June.

TerraPower says it is applying for permits to start construction of its advanced Natrium reactor in Kemmerer, Wyoming. Gates recently heralded the coming of the Wyoming reactor on his blog, doubling down on his argument that ‘the world needs to make a big bet on nuclear.’

We’re on the verge of a nuclear renaissance led by a host of nuclear power startups. Think players such as TerraPower, X-Energy, and Last Energy, who want to make small modular reactors in disused U.S. shipyards. And one key implication? This renaissance will fuel the AI revolution happening now.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is a major investor in Helion, a U.S. startup pursuing fusion power. The Altman and Gates connections here are no accident. Both of these tech leaders know that to fuel the AI revolution that is accelerating now, we’re going to need much more compute. And that means huge energy demands.

AI and energy are now falling into a symbiotic, flywheel relationship. It’s an epic Exponential Age story, and one we’ve been watching from the start. Much more to come.

Thanks for reading 

We hope you enjoyed this peek into the mind of Exponentialist co-creator David Mattin. 

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that the world as we know it is rapidly changing — and pretty soon we’ll all be looking back from an almost unrecognizable vantage point: 

The Economic Singularity. 

Exponentialist co-creator Raoul Pal believes that by 2030, the greatest investing opportunity of our lifetime (tech and crypto) will be over. Emerging technologies will be fully integrated into every aspect of our lives, and the monumental upside that exists in markets right now will have vanished. 

In other words, “We have 6 years to make as much money as possible.” 

Right now, you can start a trial for just $1 to see how the Exponentialist team is doing just that. 

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