1. A New Office Of Science And Technology Policy Aims To Democratize Access To Scientific Research
Last week, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released new policy guidance that expands its previous Memorandum on increasing access to the results of federally-funded research. The new guidance eliminates the twelve-month publication embargo and ensures immediate, digital, and open access to federally-funded peer-reviewed articles, enabling “broad and expeditious sharing” of research.
To facilitate the new requirement, researchers can include in grant applications a budget for publication and data-sharing costs. Moreover, the OSTP will collaborate with the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Open Science (SOS), hoping to create incentives for institutions to provide public access to publications and data.
In addition, federal agencies like the Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Science Foundation, will focus on providing more equitable and diverse grant opportunities for young scientists.
Traditionally blocked behind paywalls, access to data on scientific discoveries has been expensive, thwarting innovation. In our view, this meaningful step toward the democratization of scientific research will help reproducible science flourish.
2. The SpaceX/T-Mobile Partnership Will Connect The Underserved On Earth
Last week, T-Mobile and SpaceX announced plans to leverage SpaceX’s second-generation Starlink satellites and provide cellular coverage in underserved areas. Geared for text messages and voice calls, the service will connect existing smartphones to rural areas in the US without the need for hardware modifications. The mid-band antennae will offer 2-4 megabits per second of bandwidth in each geographic cell, enabling ~1,000-2,000 concurrent calls.
With this new service, SpaceX and T-Mobile are entering the competitive race to connect areas with little or no service. Lynk and AST Spacemobile are attempting to connect existing devices to satellites, Iridium has hinted at its potential in the space, and ARK believes Apple is likely to announce during its “Far Out” event on September 7 that Globalstar satellites will enable iPhone texts in emergency situations.
In this competitive race, we believe SpaceX’s satellites could serve as a platform for both Starlink internet and the new cellular service, offering better pricing than a single service could alone. Space innovation is moving…at the speed of light.
3. Tesla Has Updated Its Full Self Driving Beta Program With Occupancy Network Perception And Prediction
Last week, Tesla released to a select group of user vehicles a significant upgrade to its Full Self Driving (FSD) beta software. Significantly, the 10.69 version of FSD beta contains the first implementation of “occupancy networks”––neural networks optimized for autonomous driving perception and prediction. In a recent keynote at the Conference for Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), Ashok Elluswamy, a Director on Tesla’s Autopilot Software team, explained the two significant benefits of occupancy networks: (1) asking whether or not a voxel is occupied, they predict an object’s volumetric occupancy, and (2) they predict the future movement of each point in 3D space using video instead of individual camera frames. As a result, with less computing power, FSD software’s ability to estimate the velocity of vehicles crossing intersections at a distance has improved 20%.
Notably, occupancy networks enable Tesla to estimate the depth and velocity of objects with the use of cameras only, while competitors use a combination of cameras, LiDAR, and radar. This update will produce valuable feedback and training data for future FSD releases. Based on data from ~100,000 cars, multiple orders of magnitude more than competitor fleets, we believe its FSD capabilities are likely to position Tesla uniquely in the race toward autonomous taxi platforms.
4. Are NFT Exchanges Courting Buyers At The Expense Of Creators?
Last Thursday, NFT marketplace X2Y2 announced that exchanges have lowered transaction costs for NFT buyers at the expense of creators: “Buyers on X2Y2 can now choose the amount of royalties they would like to contribute to projects. Dominant aggregators intend to provide similar functionality in the imminent future. As such, X2Y2 would like to make sure we are ready and staying on top of market movements.”
Historically, royalties have accounted for a meaningful share of NFT creator revenues, thanks to a healthy secondary market for their projects. Royalties have accounted for roughly half the $185 million in revenue that Nike has enjoyed since entering the NFT space. While unlikely to debilitate a behemoth like Nike, the loss of royalties could ruin small or independent NFT projects.
If exchanges were to adopt “tipping” instead of royalties for creators, as X2Y2 is suggesting, the impact on NFT market dynamics could be massive. In the absence of royalties, we can envision two potential outcomes. In the first, interest in creating NFT projects would diminish. In the other, in an effort to drive up primary sales, new and existing projects could “spray and pray” NFTs, diluting the value of all projects. In both cases, we believe giving buyers the option to circumvent royalties will pit NFT exchanges against creator communities.