Welcome back to Spatial Beats. We need to regulate the Internet before we regulate AI. Andy Parker wants to know why we’re so worried about AI when social media’s algorithms are a clear and present danger. These programs were created to give us a better, more relevant browsing experience, and maybe sell some goods and services. Unfortunately, the algorithm that sells us t-shirts, also sells dangerous lies. These programs have been at work for the better part of ten years. Today new generative AI programs are in the process of producing billions of pages of junk SEO content and deep fakes which will mingle with reality until we don’t know what’s real anymore. The problem isn’t AI, per se, it’s the system distributing the virus.
Databricks announced this week it is paying $1.3 billion for MosaicML. This comes out to $21M per employee. Not bad for a two-year-old startup that specializes in open source AI models for enterprises.
Augmedics Raises $82.5 M To Give Spine Surgeons XRay Vision. It’s actually not x-ray vision, but it has a similar effect. The system anchors CT scans to the patient’s anatomy. Augmedic’s x-vision, first FDA-approved for surgery in 2019, just celebrated its 4000th successful procedure. The technology superimposes critical data onto the surgical field, allowing surgeons to visualize patient anatomy through skin and tissue and to accurately navigate instruments and implants during spine surgery. Unlike traditional navigation systems, which require surgeons to continually look away to an ancillary screen, x-vision allows surgeons to keep their eyes directly on the patient. The Series D round was led by Dallas-based CPMG and current investors. To date, the company has raised $148M.
Pokemon-Go Producer Niantic Lays Off 230 (8%), Closes LA Office, Axes Four Mobile Game Titles. Niantic is shuttering its Los Angeles studio and is moving away from in-house game development. The Pokémon Go studio is laying off 230 employees, sunsetting NBA All-World, canceling its upcoming Marvel: World of Heroes, and discontinuing the development of others. Just seven months ago the company raised $300M at a $9B valuation but with a headcount of 2000, even that kind of money goes fast. “The top priority is to keep Pokémon GO healthy and growing as a forever game,” Hanke wrote in a letter to employees. “We are reducing and focusing our platform team in line with the reduced number of games we are building, with the goal to do less, better.”
OpenAI Sued for Scraping Internet. Yesterday a public interest law firm in California filed a federal class action lawsuit alleging that Open AI and Microsoft misappropriated personal data to train their private AI models without consent. Avram Piltch, editor-in-chief of Tom’s Hardware recently wrote Plagiarism Engine: Google’s Content-Swiping AI Could Break the Internet in which he points out Google’s new interface for search results is a “plagiarism engine.” Swiping key content, says Piltch, will starve sites of traffic and revenue. Creative destruction, or shameless opportunism?
Brilliant Labs Raises $3M for low-cost AR prototyping tool. We met founder Bobak Tavangar at AWE last month where he met with writers and influencers to demo his open-source AR “monocle.” It is a devkit composed of a monocle with a clip that lets you attach it to the frame of your glasses. This monocle contains a small AR display, a camera, and two touch sensors around it. It is transparent so that you can see its circuits. The Monocle became popular this spring, when students playing with it connected it with ChatGPT and simulated the use of ChatGPT and AR to give people live suggestions during work interviews or dates. When not used, the $350 Monocle can sit inside its cool charging case.
Google Kills AR Glasses, Again. One minute they’re announcing a development deal with Qualcomm and Samsung, the next they’re pitching their own “Project Iris” overboard. In a demo last year, they showed how their upcoming glasses, which looked like AR glasses from North, which Google acquired, could be used for real-time translation. Google is still building an Android XR platform for Samsung’s headset and a “micro XR” platform for glasses.
Palmer Lucky on Apple’s Vision Pro. He likes it and is a fan of external pucks (when done by Apple). Other topics he covers with legendary entrepreneur Peter Diamandis on his podcast include Luckey’s defense technology company Anduril, which is now worth $10B.
VR Creation Tool ‘Masterpiece X’ Comes to Quest 2 for Free. Masterpiece Studio, the developers behind the titular PC VR creative suite, released a new version of its software built natively for Quest 2, something its creators hope will appeal to people looking for an easy way to make models, avatars, and other 3D assets.
Lego and Epic Games want to prove the metaverse is alive and well (Jeff Beer/Fast Company)
Neal Stephenson: Gaming Has (Almost) All the Tech We Need to Make the Metaverse (Adrian Pennington/NAB Amplify)
If Apple can’t make smart goggles happen, nobody can. So, what happens if Apple fails? (Matt Weinverger/Fortune)
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.