Welcome back to Spatial Beats. Musk picks Vegas for Zuckerberg’s ‘cage match’ challenge. Now they are talking about doing it live over Twitter and Instagram. What started as some joking on the socials has turned into an actual thing with centi-billionaires meeting out back to settle things. Zuck is a trim, athletic 5’7,” thanks to recent mixed martial arts training. Musk is a big guy, 6’ 1,” with a penchant for throwing his weight around. I guess the feud is about Meta’s yet to be launched Twitter clone?

Kobold Metals Raises $200M For AI Mining of Minerals. The price of lithium, nickel, cobalt, and copper are on the rise, thanks to battery demand from electric vehicles. The Berkeley-based mining company, which raised $192.5 M in 2022, uses artificial intelligence to model the earth’s subsurface to explore depths beyond the reach of conventional techniques.The $200 million round includes money from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which is backed by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Jack Ma. Andreessen Horowitz and Bond Capital also were in on the deal.

Gen-AI Elven Labs Raises $19M. The company turns text into speech using synthetic voices that mimic the sounds of people of various genders, ages, and ethnicities. The Series A round was co-led by entrepreneurs Nat Friedman and Daniel Gross alongside Andreessen Horowitz. Other participants included Creator Ventures, SV Angel, Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger, Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe, Deepmind and Inflection AI co-founder Mustafa Suleyman and O’Reilly Media founder Tim O’Reilly.

Second Life Turns 20. Congrats to Linden Lab founder Philip Rosedale, and the 750,000 monthly users who make Second Life their second home in the Metaverse. Launched in 2003, and still going strong with 750K month average users, Second Life was the first 3D open-sandbox game metaverse, the first social network, the first dealer in virtual land, and the first to introduce a digital currency, Linden dollars, which can be instantly traded for fiat money anywhere in the world. There is no goal in the “game” of Second Life, other than to live, socialize, create, buy, and sell. The company was sold in 2021 to a hedge fund run by entrepreneur Brad Oberwager.

ChatGPT Opens App Store. Bringing much-needed order to chaos. Such a marketplace could compete with app stores run by some of the company’s customers and technology partners – including Salesforce and Microsoft. Right now the space is dominated by new, hastily-created directories angling for clicks, affiliate revenue, and ultimately acquisition. Don’t laugh. Disney bought such a directory, Infoseek, for a billion dollars in 1999.

Meta Lowers Users’ Minimum Age For VR To Ten. The company just visited its own Horizon social VR Metaverse and noticed what everyone knows. Many of their users are children. I wonder if their parents are aware they’re interacting with unsupervised, strange adults in VR? Or maybe there aren’t any adults there at all.

AI is not even at dog intelligence level says Meta AI chief. Yann LeCun, chief AI scientist at Facebook parent Meta, was asked about the current limitations of AI. An AI system could now pass the Bar in the U.S., an examination required for someone to become an attorney, he said. However, an AI can’t load a dishwasher, which a 10-year-old could learn in 10 minutes. “What it tells you is we are missing something really big,” said LeCun, “to reach not just human-level intelligence, but even dog intelligence.”

Meta’s Voicebox AI is a Dall-E for text-to-speech. Voicebox is Meta’s generative text-to-speech model. It promises to do for the spoken word what ChatGPT Dall-E did for text and image generation. But neither the VoiceBox app nor its source code are being released to the public at this time, Meta confirmed on Friday, citing “the potential risks of misuse” despite the “many exciting use cases for generative speech models.”

Making a Metaverse That Matters: From Snow Crash & Second Life to A Virtual World Worth Fighting For. James Wagner Au has been writing about the Metaverse for twenty years. (Wiley)

Microsoft’s XR Strategy Could Lead to a Zune Moment (Scott Hayden/RoadtoVR)

Quest Pro Was Meta’s Missed Opportunity To Prove The Future – It Should Try Again (David Heaney/Upload VR)

This Week in XR is also a podcast hosted by Paramount’s Futurist Ted Schilowitz, Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz, and Charlie Fink, the author of this weekly column. You can find it on podcasting platforms Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube. Watch the latest episode below.

Charlie Fink is an author and futurist focused on spatial computing. See his books here. Spatial Beats contains insights and inputs from Fink’s collaborators including Paramount Pictures futurist Ted Shilowitz.

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