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Why We Shouldn’t Fear Elon Musk’s Cyber Pig – ReadWrite



Why We Shouldn’t Fear Elon Musk’s Cyber Pig - ReadWrite

In August of 2020, a curious hashtag started trending that was strange, even by Twitter’s standards: #CyberPig.

This was a sobriquet for Gertrude, a hog serving as the star of the latest eye-popping PR event for Elon Musk’s Neuralink. The display was more reminiscent of a magic show than a PR event. And as the former vice president of innovation and creativity at Disney, she seemed to me like the rabbit in Musk’s hat.

What Makes Gertrude a #CyberPig?

Thanks to a small brain-to-computer implant embedded in her snout, Gertrude wirelessly transmits her brain activity to a nearby computer. She’s proof of the concept that Neuralink will one day allow humans to control digital devices with thoughts.

After the event, a flurry of #CyberPig posts stormed Twitter timelines, with feedback ranging from positive intrigue to end-of-days prophets claiming Musk was bringing us closer to a Terminator-style rise of the machines.

Of course, the feeling has only intensified with Musk’s recent announcement that Neuralink had successfully implanted its chip into a monkey’s brain, allowing it to play video games with its mind. The next experiment? Wire up a second monkey, and see if the pair can play a game of “mind Pong” with one another.

A Robotics Throwback

Wading through all the social media posts on #CyberPig and #MonkeyMindPong, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Hanson Robotics’ famous Sophia robot. Several years ago, I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Sophia at an event in India. When “she” took the stage, the room lit up with camera flashes and bright smiles as conference attendees scrambled to get a better look at the uncanny machine.

These smiles remained wide as Sophia began her presentation, giving all of us a true glimpse of the future. But something strange happened: Sophia began to lose the crowd. Smiles faded, brows furrowed.

As guests took in the true magnitude of the technology, a sense of fear washed over the room.

It was as if everyone had the same disconcerting thought. Will Sophia replace me?

When Automation Sparks Fear

Fear of being replaced by robots is nothing new. It dates back well over a century to factories of the Industrial Revolution, where eyes widened at the sight of ever-evolving machinery and automation. But with the recent acceleration of artificial intelligence and machine learning, this fear has now spread to white-collar workers as well. In fact, 37% of workers are already worried about losing their jobs due to automation.

For all the excitement about the progress it can bring society, AI triggers an understandable dilemma: How can we celebrate a technology that could replace us?

This dilemma is the same reason Sophia and Musk’s Neuralink are so polarizing. If minds and machines become one — and machines one day outsmart us — will human beings as we know them, cease to exist?

Why the Future Looks Brighter Than We’d Think

This doomsday prophesizing is overblown, however.

As AI becomes more prevalent in the workplace, it will free us to focus on what makes us decidedly more human.

Creativity, imagination, curiosity, intuition — these pieces of us are unique, innovative, and capable of generating new ideas that will assist when we usher in an unprecedented economic boom. In fact, Accenture found that AI could double the GDP in 12 developed economies by 2035. Just imagine what it will do in the decades after when combined with our natural talents.

Once you accept that humans possess traits that are incredibly difficult for machines to replicate, AI’s future grows rosier.

Simply think of all the progress that’s been made by merging humans with machines through medicine: Hearts keep beating thanks to pacemakers and artificial valves. People who have severe hearing loss can hear their parents’ voices for the very first time using cochlear implants. Bionic limbs turn children with disabilities into real-life superheroes. By mixing humans with machines, we’ve vastly improved the duration and quality of life for millions.

What Could AI Do for You?

So imagine that Neuralink’s technology comes to fruition.

You’ll give your brain the power of a computer, allowing you to record important bits of information so they’re never lost, execute complex equations in microseconds, and interact seamlessly with devices.

Likewise, a recent survey of 1,432 CEOs uncovered that the No. 1 barrier to innovation is a lack of time to think. What if a chip-enhanced brain could give you endless time to think? What innovations would you uncover?

Of course, Silicon Valley doesn’t get a free pass — the burden of proof is on founders to prove their solutions are safe and effective. And this won’t happen overnight. After all, seven decades elapsed between the first published mention of an electronic device regulating heartbeats and the first successful pacemaker implantation.

With flesh and bone, we must take our time.

Retain Your Skepticism, but Drop Your Fear; Why We Shouldn’t Fear Elon Musk’s Cyber Pig

We shouldn’t wait forever.

Although many used #CyberPig to say Musk had gone too far, a future where minds meld with machines is all but certain.

That’s OK. We can be skeptical, but we shouldn’t be fearful. These advancements represent an opportunity to refocus our brainpower on the human traits that spark the most progress: creativity, imagination, curiosity, and intuition. By combining the best of what humans and machines have to offer, we’re opening the door to a new era of possibility.

Image Credit: kenneth schippervera; unsplash

Duncan Wardle

Innovation Keynote Speaker & Creativity Consultant

Duncan Wardle, formerly vice president of innovation and creativity at The Walt Disney Company, launched his creative consulting company iD8 & innov8 to help companies embed a culture of innovation and creativity across their entire organization.


Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending



Google eyed for $2 billion Anthropic deal after major Amazon play

London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.

According to an Oct. 10 report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.

The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:

“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”

The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:

“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”

The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.

The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.

Featured Image Credit: Photo from; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

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Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs



Deanna Ritchie

As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.

Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI

In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.

According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.

One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.

To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.

Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations



Deanna Ritchie

As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.

Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation

To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.

The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.

Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.

The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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