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Elon Musk goes live on Clubhouse, but with the room full, fans stream audio on YouTube

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As I write this Elon Musk has joined Clubhouse for his first ever in-person session and the boundaries of the app have already been tested. Only 5,000 people are in the room, BUT… the session is being live-streamed from here or here.

We are live blogging the session and will update this post (apologies for typos in the interim).

Musk initially talked about going gong to Mars and said it was likely to be a “hard” for the early pioneers, but that it would be a matter of keeping the “candle of civilization alive in the dark”.

Asked if he believed in aliens, he said there wasn’t a single piece of conclusive evidence for the existence of aliens, although it’s “quite possible” there is such a thing as Alien tech, at least at a “7/11” level, and a joked that they evidence so far suggests they might be at the “500 Megapixel camera” or “at least iPhone 6 level”.

He said his kids were not quite into the idea of going to Mars.

Asked about memes online he quipped: “He who controls the memes controls the universe” and it’s about what influences the zeitgeist. Memes are a complex form of communication – unlike pictures, memes are “10,000 words not 1,000 words”. They are aspirationally funny. “I love memes, they can be very insightful”

Does he try to sound crazy on Twitter? “I started crazy on Twitter,” he joked.

I don’t follow them, but some “are sent by “meme dealers” who are friends.

He posted about Neurolink but said Tesla had one of the strongest AI teams in the world.

With AI, it’s about “how to we stay relevant” and at least “stay along for the ride” in the good scenario” and couple to AI.

“People are already a cyborg.” We already have a tertiary layer in the form of smartphones. The bit-rate of us typing into a phone is 100 bits. So it’s like trying to talk to a tree, for our smartphones. So with a direct neural interface, we increase it with a huge magnitude. And also spend longer with a higher magnitude.

You can decide if you want to be a robot of a person. But when you wake in the morning you wouldn’t have to be the same as you were yesterday. It’s analogous to a video game, not unlike the “Altered Carbon” Netflix series.

There are primitive versions s the Neurolink idea, with tiny wires into your brain.

He said they will be releasing new videos in a month or so, such as of a monkey playing videos with their mind.

The value of the early implant will be enormous and outright the risks.

Question: What should we educate a 5-year-old about in this world?

Musk talked about how video games engage children, but explaining “the why” was important. “We are programmed to forget the low “probability of things” if they aren’t relevant.

Such as, taking apart an engine and putting them together. We will need tools, so we understand the relevance. It’s better than having a “course of wrenches”

He was asked “why are there not more Elon Musks”? “If you need encouraging words, don’t do a startup”.

A friend sent him a slice of cake in 2013. So “I should have bought it 8 years ago” “At this point Bitcoin is a good thing. I am a supporter. I am late to the party, but I am a supporter.”

He said it was clear Bitcoin was getting broader acceptance by the finance world. “I don’t have a strong opinion on other currencies.”

Dogecoin is a made aa joke to make fun of cryptocurrencies, but “fate lives irony”.

“The most entertaining outcome is the most likely.” The most ironic outcome would be dogecoin becoming the currency of the future.

He made a joke about bitcoin and his account got locked.

TESLA: They want to make 20 million cars and trucks per year as a target.

Autonomous driving could reach a significant amount of time you would rely on it in a week, so autonomous cars would do a third of the hours in a weeks, so 60 hours instead of 12.

Making sense of objects with technologies like Lidar would effectively make cars “superhuman”.

Working remotely on zoom has been tricky for him, but remote working has not been perfect. “Fear is not the mind-killer, context switching the mind-killer” he said.

Would he start another company? It joked that he pretty much has his hands with Tesla, Space X, The Boring Company and others to date.

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Qualcomm veteran to replace Alain Crozier as Microsoft Greater China boss

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Microsoft gets a new leader for its Greater China business. Yang Hou, a former executive at Qualcomm, will take over Alain Crozier as the chairman and chief executive officer for Microsoft Greater China Region, according to a company announcement released Monday.

More to come…

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Autonomous drone maker Skydio raises $170M led by Andreessen Horowitz

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Skydio has raised $170 million in a Series D funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz’s Growth Fund. That pushes it into unicorn territory, with $340 million in total funding and a post-money valuation north of $1 billion. Skydio’s fresh capital comes on the heels of its expansion last year into the enterprise market, and it intends to use the considerable pile of cash to help it expand globally and accelerate product development.

In July of last year, Skydio announced its $100 million Series C financing, and also debuted the X2, its first dedicated enterprise drone. The company also launched a suite of software for commercial and enterprise customers, its first departure from the consumer drone market where it had been focused prior to that raise since its founding in 2014.

Skydio’s debut drone, the R1, received a lot of accolades and praise for its autonomous capabilities. Unlike other consumer drones at the time, including from recreational drone maker DJI, the R1 could track a target and film them while avoiding obstacles without any human intervention required. Skydio then released the Skydio 2 in 2019, its second drone, cutting off more than half the price while improving on it its autonomous tracking and video capabilities.

Late last year, Skydio brought on additional senior talent to help it address enterprise and government customers, including a software development lead who had experience at Tesla and 3D printing company Carbon. Skydio also hired two Samsara executives at the same time to work on product and engineering. Samsara provides a platform for managing cloud-based fleet operations for large enterprises.

The applications of Skydio’s technology for commercial, public sector and enterprise organizations are many and varied. Already, the company works with public utilities, fire departments, construction firms and more to do work including remote inspection, emergency response, urban planning and more. Skydio’s U.S. pedigree also puts it in prime position to capitalize on the growing interest in applications from the defense sector.

a16z previously led Skydio’s Series A round. Other investors who participated in this Series D include Lines Capital, Next47, IVP and UP.Partners.

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Space startup Gitai raises $17.1M to help build the robotic workforce of commercial space

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Japanese space startup Gitai has raised a $17.1 million funding round, a Series B financing for the robotics startup. This new funding will be used for hiring, as well as funding the development and execution of an on-orbit demonstration mission for the company’s robotic technology, which will show its efficacy in performing in-space satellite servicing work. That mission is currently set to take place in 2023.

Gitai will also be staffing up in the U.S., specifically, as it seeks to expand its stateside presence in a bid to attract more business from that market.

“We are proceeding well in the Japanese market, and we’ve already contracted missions from Japanese companies, but we haven’t expanded to the U.S. market yet,” explained Gitai founder and CEO Sho Nakanose in an interview. So we would like to get missions from U.S. commercial space companies, as a subcontractor first. We’re especially interested in on-orbit servicing, and we would like to provide general-purpose robotic solutions for an orbital service provider in the U.S.”

Nakanose told me that Gitai has plenty of experience under its belt developing robots which are specifically able to install hardware on satellites on-orbit, which could potentially be useful for upgrading existing satellites and constellations with new capabilities, for changing out batteries to keep satellites operational beyond their service life, or for repairing satellites if they should malfunction.

Gitai’s focus isn’t exclusively on extra-vehicular activity in the vacuum of space, however. It’s also performing a demonstration mission of its technical capabilities in partnership with Nanoracks using the Bishop Airlock, which is the first permanent commercial addition to the International Space Station. Gitai’s robot, codenamed S1, is an arm–style robot not unlike industrial robots here on Earth, and it’ll be showing off a number of its capabilities, including operating a control panel and changing out cables.

Long-term, Gitai’s goal is to create a robotic workforce that can assist with establishing bases and colonies on the Moon and Mars, as well as in orbit. With NASA’s plans to build a more permanent research presence on orbit at the Moon, as well as on the surface, with the eventual goal of reaching Mars, and private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin looking ahead to more permanent colonies on Mars, as well as large in-space habitats hosting humans as well as commercial activity, Nakanose suggests that there’s going to be ample need for low-cost, efficient robotic labor – particularly in environments that are inhospitable to human life.

Nakanose told me that he actually got started with Gitai after the loss of his mother – an unfortunate passing he said he firmly believes could have been avoided with the aid of robotic intervention. He began developing robots that could expand and augment human capability, and then researched what was likely the most useful and needed application of this technology from a commercial perspective. That research led Nakanose to conclude that space was the best long-term opportunity for a new robotics startup, and Gitai was born.

This funding was led by SPARX Innovation for the Future Co. Ltd, and includes funding form DcI Venture Growth Fund, the Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, and EP-GB (Epson’s venture investment arm).

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