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AI scares the bejesus out of me
May 28, 2023

AI scares the bejesus out of me

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Welcome to Startups Weekly. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Saturday morning.

Something really scary is happening. It’s an internet-powered horror story unfolding in front of us in three interwoven acts: (1) AI technology is improving fast enough that I recently had a bit of an existential crisis, wondering if I, too, was an AI. (2) People have no idea what’s real and what isn’t on the internet. (3) With the 2024 presidential election coming up, we have a recipe for disaster.

We may be so comprehensively copulated at this moment in time that digging our way out might prove impossible. Brew a cup of coffee and take a breath; I’m exploring the full depth of my fears in ‘On the internet, nobody knows you’re a bot.’

Fintech keeps printing dollars, pounds, dinar and rupees

Earlier this year Mary Ann reported that even well-funded fintech companies were going through rounds of layoffs, but it appears that optimism has returned to the sector. This week, it transpired that celebrity investors (including Paris Hilton) piled into consumer savings startup Checkmate, and Kyle reported that Nymbus landed a $70 million round of funding to help drag banks away from legacy tech and into the new-fangled digital age.

Pay attention, though: You’d be wrong to believe that all of this innovation is happening only in the major, obvious financial centers of the world. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen major innovations all over the world, including a major Brazilian player plotting to serve 11 African markets, a startup helping Indonesians take control over their credit scores, a bank raising $78 million to expand operations across South Africa, Singapore and the Philippines, and stories coming out of India, Kenya, LatAm, France, etc. That’s great news for startups that are looking for growth through international expansion. The playbook is there, as are the investment dollars.

Doing it for the LOLs

Some organizations are fighting back, including the state of Montana, who decided to try to ban TikTok altogether, citing it is taking action to ‘protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party.’ TikTok sued in return, claiming the ban violates the First Amendment.

Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis decided to just skip the announcement rally and announce his run for president on Twitter, which brought the entire social media platform crunching to a halt. I’m wondering if we’re starting to see why Elon Musk had an interest in buying Twitter: being front and center seems to be something he rather enjoys. Not gonna lie, though: I’m so profoundly bored of the whole ‘Elon buys Twitter’ saga, but I can’t look away. I’m super grateful to Amanda and Alyssa for putting together a what-you-need-to-know about Elon Musk’s Twitter overview.

Misinformation continues to run rampant on social media, particularly illustriously illustrated by the incident that took place this week when a fake Pentagon attack hoax was posted by a Twitter Blue-verified Twitter user called @BloombergFeed, confusingly unaffiliated with Bloomberg.

The highs and lows of hardware

Humanoid robots are forging ahead with literal leaps, and indeed, bounds. Brian has been on a roll, covering Figure’s humanoid robot’s first steps and the company’s $70 million fundraise. Meanwhile, Apptronik is teasing its to-be-revealed-this-summer robot, and Sanctuary AI showed off its slightly creepy looking ‘bot last week, as well. It seems like the current tizzy of excitement about robots that look a little like humans got an inhuman tail wind when Elon Musk showed off Tesla’s bipedal buddy in September last year.

The reason I bring it up is that the team at Nuwa Pen (who I met at CES in January this year) just launched their Kickstarter. I wasn’t going to cover it until I saw the crowdfunding video and noticed something weird: The pen the company had shown me wasn’t capable of doing what the pen shown in the video was doing.


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