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Confronting the Risks of Space, AI, and China, Fundings: Cybereason, Fourthline, Unearthly Materials
5 April 2023 - A Weekly Publication by New North Ventures
Elevator Pitch: Cloud-based endpoint detection and cyber-security software designed to protect companies from advanced cyber attacks.
Funding: The company raised $100 million of venture funding in a deal led by SoftBank Group on April 3, 2023. Other undisclosed investors also participated in the round.
Elevator Pitch: Governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) software designed to solve KYC and compliance needs.
Funding: The company raised EUR 50 million of venture funding in a deal led by Finch Capital on April 3, 2023. Other undisclosed investors also participated in the round.
Key People: Co-founded by Ashkan Salamat and Ranga Dias
Elevator Pitch: Hydride superconductors intended to provide innovative technologies addressing climate change.
Funding: The company raised $20 million of Series A venture funding from Daniel Ek, Taavet Hinrikus, and Sam Altman on April 4, 2023. Breakthrough Energy Ventures also participated in the round.
SpaceX and China were roughly tied in 2022 with 61 and 62 orbital launches, but SpaceX had more payload. Combined, SpaceX and China were 80% of orbital launches in 2022. SpaceX is on pace to double its launches in 2023.
SpaceX will have built five complete Super-heavy Starships by the end of 2023. If those were flying every week in 2024, then that would be 250 launches with five to seven times the payload. This would mean about 15 times the payload versus 2023.
Elon indicates that SpaceX should deliver 80% of all of the payloads in 2023. This is even without the Super Heavy Starship getting into operation.
Last week, AI insiders were hotly debating an open letter signed by Elon Musk and various industry heavyweights arguing that AI poses an “existential risk” to humanity. They called for labs to introduce a six-month moratorium on developing any technology more powerful than GPT-4.
Tech companies are embedding these deeply flawed models into all sorts of products, from programs that generate code to virtual assistants that sift through our emails and calendars. In doing so, they are sending us hurtling toward a glitchy, spammy, scammy, AI-powered internet.
Allowing these language models to pull data from the internet gives hackers the ability to turn them into “a super-powerful engine for spam and phishing,” says Florian Tramèr, an assistant professor of computer science at ETH Zürich who works on computer security, privacy, and machine learning.
This is a recipe for disaster if the virtual assistant has access to sensitive information, such as banking or health data. The ability to change how the AI-powered virtual assistant behaves means people could be tricked into approving transactions that look close enough to the real thing, but are actually planted by an attacker.
As the adoption of AI language models grows, so does the incentive for malicious actors to use them for hacking.
The U.S. encouraged China to set up a robust antitrust regime. Now, Beijing is holding back its required green light for mergers that involve American companies as a technology war with Washington intensifies.
The Chinese demands could put U.S. companies in an impossible position as Washington has enacted legislation restricting American companies’ ability to sell to China and expanding certain types of production there.
For multinationals, it doesn’t take much for a merger to trigger a Chinese antitrust review. For instance, if two companies in a deal have revenue of more than $117 million a year from China, the merger needs Beijing to sign off. In years past, securing Beijing’s blessing often meant delays as the Chinese agencies handling the review weren’t well coordinated and relied on a smaller staff than major antitrust agencies around the world. Now, Beijing has consolidated all antitrust matters under SAMR and built up its staff.
In March, China suspended the operations of Deloitte’s Beijing office for three months and imposed a $31 million fine over alleged lapses in its auditing work of state-owned China Huarong Asset Management Co. Huarong itself and seven of its subsidiaries were fined about $14,500 each. Deloitte said it respected the penalty decision.
Increased costs could lead to more foreign companies planning to divest out of China. “Some companies are thinking about whether they can afford to leave the China market so that they wouldn’t have to be beholden to a Chinese decision,” Albright Stonebridge’s Ms. Celico said.
Look for a new episode of Securing the Future Podcasts wherever you listen. In our latest episode, we have guest Dr. Jennifer Rudolph sit down with General Partner Jeremy Hitchcock for an engaging conversation where Dr. Rudolph discusses her passion for Asian history and politics, her research on Taiwan's political identity, and shares critical insights into the complex US-China relationship from her latest book, The China Question