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Business December 13, 2022

24,000 European EV Charging Stations Now Payable in Bitcoin



24,000 European EV Charging Stations Now Payable in Bitcoin

German start-up Satimoto integrated more than 24,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across Europe over the past three months, allowing users to pay for power using Bitcoin in an increasingly connected world.

The company said in a tweet that “we currently have 24,227 charge points listed” in several European countries. Around 8,898 “are experimental”, it added.

“All can be paid for by streaming sats over the Lightning Network,” said Satimoto, in reference to the payments layer on Bitcoin (BTC).

“Still in early testing, we’re checking operator integration and proper functioning.” Sats is short for “satoshis”, the smallest denomination of BTC, equal to 100 millionth of a Bitcoin.

What is Satimoto?

Satimoto self-describes as “a non-custodial mobile lightning application”. It is a combination of the Lightning wallet and a charging app, founder Ross Savage told MetaNews. The app has basic functionalities like sending or receiving lightning payments.

The charging side of the app shows the nearest available charge point to a user. When selecting a charge point, it displays the price to charge in satoshis and the option to start or stop the charging session if the charge point has that capability.

Savage said he started Satimoto in order to protect individual privacy – a key tenet of the Bitcoin ecosystem.

He became disillusioned with both charge point operators and e-mobility service providers, who routinely demanded personal data to “give you access to use their charge points.”

“I just wanted to see the prices and not give away my privacy,” Savage, a long-time Bitcoin enthusiast, said by email.

“Satimoto is an application that utilizes the Lightning Network [to] offer a service that is anonymous. You don’t need to sign up, give personal information or credit card details.”

Savage explained that Satimoto provides “a payment solution where you can stream Bitcoin (satoshis) as you are charging your vehicle.” The app avoids settling via traditional payment platforms such as VISA or MasterCard.

“So we don’t have to pay the processing fees of 1-3% to reconcile payments,” he said. “We can pass on these cost savings to our users offering a service with lower commission.”

24,000 European EV Charging Stations Now Payable in Bitcoin

EV charging with Bitcoin ‘feels great’

Bitcoin user Joko tested the Satimoto app in Germany in November. He told MetaNews that “using Bitcoin to charge my car feels great.”

“I always try to use Bitcoin as a payment method whenever possible. Here it actually gives me a benefit,” explained Joko, who also works with Swiss hardware wallet Shift. He added:

“I don’t need to sign up to dozens of charging cards, providing them all with my know-your customer (KYC) data. With Satimoto, I can just load up my wallet with sats and start charging.”

Joko paid 2,500 sat per kilowatt hour (kWh) to charge his car for 1-2 minutes during the beta test last month. That’s about 42 cents per kWh in U.S. dollar terms.

“The experience was great for a beta test – and it immediately worked,” Joko stated. However, Satimoto could not have escaped the inevitable teething problems of a new system.

“Afterwards there was an error that needed to be resolved,” said Joko. “But nothing that put my funds at risk. If you consider that it’s a lightning node on your phone that let’s you hold your own funds, it’s really impressive.”

Satimoto admitted at the time “there is an issue doing a remote stop which will be patched in a hotfix.”

The future of a connected world

Sales of electric vehicles have risen throughout the world as demand for alternatives to diesel and petrol cars grows. But there is a lag in terms of providing charging points. Moreso, those that let motorists use Bitcoin, the most valuable cryptocurrency, for payment.

24,000 European EV Charging Stations Now Payable in Bitcoin

User adoption of Bitcoin, its payments layer the Lightning Network, and electric vehicles are at the lower end of an adoption S-curve. Ross Savage sees a future where BTC and Lightning payments will become more common with further integration into point-of-sale devices.

“We wish to pave the way alongside other service providers and charge point operators to integrate Bitcoin/Lightning network as the rails for payment between entities. And as a physical means of payment for the user at the charge point,” he detailed.

He hopes that charge point operators incorporating Bitcoin and the Lightning Network into their payment systems will be able to reconcile payments instantly. That compares with the 30 to 60 days it currently takes to do so.

“Removing this payment lag has a huge credit or risk reduction benefit for an operator and could offer considerably lower tariffs for us. These lower tariffs would also pass on to our users,” said the Satimoto founder.



Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney.


Quest 3 Headset Will Have Better Mixed Reality Tech



Quest 3 Headset Will Have Better Mixed Reality Tech, says Zuckerberg
Artist's rendering.

Meta, keen to be a Metaverse giant, plans to launch virtual reality headset Quest 3 later this year, with better mixed reality technology, said CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Meta confirmed that the release should be called Meta Quest 3. It’s expected to cost between US$300 and US$500, which is about a third of the Quest Pro (the Quest Pro is currently priced at $1,499.99).

Also read: Meta Employees Undermine Zuckerberg’s Metaverse Strategy

The new headset will provide support for Meta Reality, which is technology that enables virtual reality headsets to also be used for augmented reality. This technology allows devices to create mixed reality experiences.

Meta Reality in Next-Gen Consumer Headset

The mixed reality ecosystem is relatively new, but Zuckerberg thinks it’s going to grow a lot in the next few years.

“Later this year, we’re going to launch our next generation consumer headset, which will feature Meta Reality as well, and I expect that this is going to establish this technology as the baseline for all headsets going forward, and eventually of course for AR glasses as well,” said Zuckerberg.

Beyond MR, the broader VR ecosystem continues growing. There are now over 200 apps on Meta’s VR devices that have made more than $1 million in revenue, Zuckerberg said.

How Meta Reality will look in more affordable headsets is yet to be clear.

Meta’s Reported Win over FTC will be Crucial

Meta has reportedly won court approval earlier this week to acquire VR fitness app Supernatural’s maker, Within, which will be a huge boost for Zuckerberg’s ambitious metaverse project.

Meta’s plan was to acquire Within and Supernatural back in October 2021, but it was blocked by the FTC’s complaint file to stop the deal. The FTC’s complaint was justified by saying Meta already owns a “virtual reality empire.”

Zuckerberg’s Meta Quest 2 is arguably the best VR headset, even after a massive hike in its price last year.

“There is a lot of work there that we haven’t actually shipped the product yet. VR, which is starting to ramp, right, Quest 2, I think, did quite well. We have multiple product lines there with the Quest Pro,” said Zuckerberg about Quest 3.

When Meta shipped Quest Pro at the end of last year, it was something their CEO was “really proud of” and believed it was the first mainstream mixed reality device to set the standard for the industry with Meta Reality.

“As always, the reason why we’re focused on building these platforms is to deliver better social experiences than what’s possible today on phones,” said Zuckerberg.

The possible benefit could be expected in Quest 3 through the acquisition of Within.


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Microsoft Warns Employees Not to Share Sensitive Data with ChatGPT



Microsoft Warns Employees Not to Share Sensitive Data with ChatGPT

Microsoft has warned its employees not to share sensitive data with an artificially intelligent (AI) chatbot, ChatGPT from OpenAI. Employees of American multinational tech giants had asked in an internal forum whether ChatGPT or any other AI tools from OpenAI were appropriate to use at their work, Business Insider reported.

Also read: 30% of College Students Use ChatGPT

In response to that inquiry, a senior engineer from Microsoft’s CTO office allowed to use ChatGPT but couldn’t share confidential information with the AI chatbot.

“Please don’t send sensitive data to an OpenAI endpoint, as they may use it for training future models,” the senior engineer wrote in an internal post, per Insider.

ChatGPT, here only for two months, is already raising concerns in the academic sector. Microsoft has become a partner of OpenAI, the parent company of ChatGPT, and has confirmed an investment of ten billion dollars.

Microsoft is planning to integrate OpenAI’s technology into its products, including the Bing search engine and other software, to enhance their capabilities, as reported previously.

The major concern of Microsoft regarding “sensitive information” may include sharing internal software code and seeking checks and advice from the chatbot.

Amazon’s Same Concern

ChatGPT has continuously made headlines since its launch last November but has also faced bans, especially in the academic sector as it became the cheating partner for students’ schoolwork. Recently, the tech giants have also raised their concerns over its use.

Amazon warned its employees to beware of ChatGPT last week, as reported by Insider. Insider claims that an Amazon lawyer has urged employees not to share code with ChatGPT via an internal communication form.

“This is important because your inputs may be used as training data for a further iteration of ChatGPT, and we wouldn’t want its output to include or resemble our confidential information (and I’ve already seen instances where its output closely matches existing material),” the lawyer wrote.

The lawyer placed more emphasis on requesting that employees not share “any Amazon confidential information” (including Amazon code they are working on) with ChatGPT via Slack.

Personal Data Concern

As concerns about data privacy grow among large corporations, an OpenAI representative has directed questions about the company’s data and privacy policy to ChatGPT’s FAQ page. The terms of service of OpenAI grant the company the right to use all input and output generated by ChatGPT users, with the stipulation that personally identifiable information (PII) is removed from the used data.

However, it’s quite impossible for OpenAI to identify and remove all the personal information from the data provided to ChatGPT, says Emily Bender, who teaches computational linguistics at the University of Washington.

“OpenAI is far from transparent about how they use the data, but if it’s being folded into training data, I would expect corporations to wonder: After a few months of widespread use of ChatGPT, will it become possible to extract private corporate information with cleverly crafted prompts?” said Bender.

Vincent Conitzer, a computer science professor and director of an AI lab at Carnegie Mellon University, said, “All of us together are going to have to figure out what should be expected of everyone in these situations. Is the responsibility on employees to not share sensitive information, or is the responsibility on OpenAI to use information carefully, or some combination?”

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China Catches Up On Quantum Computers, Makes 1st Delivery



China Catches Up On Quantum Computers, Makes 1st Delivery

China has officially caught up with Canada and USA in the race to deliver a complete quantum computer system to a customer according to a state media report.

Chinese quantum computing company, Origin Quantum Computing Technology developed a 24-qubit Wuyuan system before delivery to an unknown user more than a year ago, the science ministry’s Science and Technology Daily reported.

Also read: How AI Can Accelerate Metaverse Development

According to Origin Quantum, they are the only Chinese company in the quantum computing industry that can deliver real quantum computers as well as full-stack development and follow up services.

According to a statement sent to the Global Times on Monday by East China’s Anhui Province based Quantum Computing Research Centre, the group developed the computer and successfully delivered it to a user.

“More than 100 quantum computing companies in the world have put enormous investment into quantum research and development. Canada’s quantum computing company sold its first quantum computer in 2011, followed by IBM of the US in 2019.

“Chinese Origin Quantum delivered a quantum computer in 2021,” Zhang Hui, director of the Anhui Quantum Computing Engineering Research Center was quoted as saying.

Eyebrow raising announcement

The announcement by Chinese state media has raised eyebrows among skeptics questioning its timing.

Weifeng Zhong, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va told TechNewsWorld that this could be a gimmick to just show China as a tech giant with a transparent administration.

“Quantum technology has a high priority for national security in China. If this were something very important, I doubt it would be disclosed like this in a transparent way by Chinese authorities,” explained Zhong.

“The fact that it was delayed for a year suggests that they realize now that it’s not important to national security, so they’re trying to use it to build China’s image as a technology leader at a time when they’re trying to open up their economy to the rest of the world,” added Zhong.

But what is quantum computing?

A quantum computer is a type of computer that uses quantum mechanics to store and process data, as opposed to classical computers that use classical mechanics. Quantum computers use quantum bits (qubits), which can exist in multiple states at once, to perform computations that are not possible on classical computers, making them particularly well-suited for certain types of complex calculations.

The  24-qubit Wuyuan quantum computer based on superconducting technology developed by the same company  becomes the third to be delivered to customers after Canada in 2011 and USA’s IBM in 2019.

Superconducting technology is currently one of the most mature and well-developed implementations of quantum computing, and many companies and research organizations are working to develop and commercialize superconducting quantum computers. Superconducting technology is one of the main implementations of quantum computing.

In superconducting quantum computers, quantum bits (qubits) are made from tiny electrical circuits that are cooled to very low temperatures, close to absolute zero, in order to minimize the amount of thermal energy and increase their coherence time, which is the time during which a qubit can maintain its quantum state.

What does China offer in its quantum computers

Speed: Quantum computers can perform certain operations much faster than classical computers, which can greatly speed up complex computations.

Parallel processing: Quantum computers can perform multiple calculations simultaneously, which allows for more efficient processing of large amounts of data.

Simulating complex systems: Quantum computers can be used to simulate complex systems, such as molecules and materials, which can lead to new discoveries in fields such as chemistry and materials science.

Cryptography: Quantum computers can be used to break certain encryption algorithms, which makes them useful for developing new, more secure encryption methods.

Optimization problems: Quantum computers can be used to solve complex optimization problems, such as logistics and scheduling problems, which have many potential real-world applications.

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