1. New Data Confirm the Consumer’s Increasing Preference for Battery Electric Vehicles
Last year, global Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) sales soared a record-breaking 112% from ~2.3 million to ~4.8 million units, trouncing the 1.7% growth in gas-powered vehicle sales, as shown below. Prior to last year, the most rapid annual growth rate in BEVs was 75% in 2012 on a much lower base, roughly 41,000 vehicles. Interestingly, the Wuling Mini EV, a ~$5,000 neighborhood electric vehicle, increased its share of BEVs from 5% in 2020 to 9%. Based on Wright’s Law, ARK’s research suggests that BEV sales will grow at a 53% annual rate during the next five years, from 4.8 million in 2021 to roughly 40 million in 2026.
2. Will Advocates of Digital Decentralization Warm Up to the Centralization of Non-Fungible Tokens?
Three of the world’s most prominent social platforms––Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter––embraced non-fungible tokens (NFTs) this week, raising difficult questions for communities that value the decentralization of digital goods and services. A news leak on Thursday disclosed that Meta plans to roll out a marketplace for users to showcase NFTs on both Facebook and Instagram, and Twitter launched its NFT profile picture verification service.
Big Tech seems focused on the opportunity to dominate mainstream adoption of NFTs. On public blockchains, NFTs enable consumers to prove and showcase their ownership of digital assets. Could highly centralized platforms like Meta and Twitter become NFT gateways that control and verify our digital lives?
As they scale, NFT communities are facing a significant conflict. Centralized distribution enables economies of scale that might be necessary for the broad-based adoption of NFTs. That said, although we believe global platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even OpenSea are incredibly convenient, they also could become choke points introducing the risks of systemic failure, censorship, and other centralized control.
We wonder if NFT creators and owners care enough about decentralization to resist the lures of centralization. Are the scale and convenience offered by centralized distribution platforms more compelling than unfettered ownership and collective control?
3. Could the Epstein Barr Virus Be Associated with Multiple Sclerosis?
Scientists this week hypothesized that Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) could cause Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Based on a longitudinal correlation study including 955 incidents of MS among 10 million participants, the data showed that the risk of MS increased 32-fold after infection with EBV as opposed to other viruses.
Because EBV infects approximately 95% of adults, definitive studies are difficult to conduct. The correlation study reported this week measured serum concentrations of neurofilament light chain (sNfL), a biomarker for neuroaxonal degeneration, to understand the relationship between EBV and MS. Because the biomarker can increase for years before an MS diagnosis, scientists measured sNfL in samples of patients who were EBV-negative at baseline.
The baseline sNfL of the EBV-negative participants who did contract MS increased after EBV infection, suggesting that the infection preceded both MS symptoms and higher levels of sNfL. These data suggest that EBV and MS are correlated but do not prove that EBV causes MS. To determine causality, scientists would have to describe the mechanism of action in more detail.