And You Thought Only The Bots Did Comebacks…

As pantomime season approaches, it almost explains why most of the Conservative Party front bench are off the front pages. Unless, of course, you’re new Home Secretary, James Cleverly, and a wee bit envious of the coverage given to Nigel “I’m A C…….. Get Me Out Of Here”. Poor James, affectionately known in the corridors of Westminster as “Jimmy Dimly”, has been caught not once but twice using expletives in awkwardly public circumstances. However, if we are looking for real awkward stuff, consider the board of OpenAI. It has been quite the week. The board room coup and firing of CEO Sam Altman last weekend shocked the AI world and threatened to incinerate $90 billion of corporate value in OpenAI. However, a whirlwind four days later we were on to our fourth CEO, a potential 600 resignations out of 700 personnel, thousands of worried start-ups built on OpenAI’s flagship ChatGPT model and a potentially costless acquisition by Microsoft. Anyway, the fourth CEO happens to be Sam Altman who seems to have had the comeback of comebacks. So, all is back on track? Ehhh… not quite.

The details as to what was the exact cause of the original board room bust up are not yet clear. But… the general gist of things is the tension between executives wanting to develop AI at break-neck speed and board members worried about the risks involved with super powerful models capable of Artificial General Intelligence(AGI). The advance hidden in the AGI acronym is the ability of a machine to reason and think, potentially in a superior way to a human being. Now, AGI(vs AI) was supposed to be some way off on development timelines, but reading between the lines something has spooked the members of the OpenAI board. The existential threat of out-of-human-control technology is a genuine fear but there are two key drivers as to why the “growth” champions want to keep moving, and fast:

The Stakes: At a corporate and sovereign level, the risk of your competitors or geopolitical rivals gaining a lead in AI has huge market and political power implications. If someone gets a sufficiently big technological lead, you could be corporately or literally dead.

The Incentives: We saw this week the incentive to be ahead in AI. The company nobody had ever heard of 6 months ago, Nvidia, released its Q3 results. Expectations were sky high evidenced by the market giving it a current market value of more than $1.2 trillion. And, yet it still beat expectations with its data centre chips (AI) revenues up 279% year-on-year and exceeding the sophisticated forecasting models of Wall Street’s finest by a whopping $2 billion.

So, this tension between technology risk and technology development/growth is going to dominate AI discussion and regulation in the coming years. We have already seen the Biden administration put in place an Executive Order on AI safety and security, and Europe’s AI Act is imminent. However, these attempts to mitigate risk might lead to another comeback by a technology closely connected to another Sam.

Unfortunately, Sam Bankman Fried faces Federal incarceration and won’t be restored any time soon to the helm of crypto platform FTX. Indeed, this week another platform founder in the space Changpeng Zhao or “CZ” of Binance was convicted of money laundering, fined $4 billion, stepped down from his executive role and narrowly avoided a prison sentence. Those are the bad headlines in the crypto world and could cause readers to miss the bigger picture. The reality is that one of the huge risks of AI is fraud, caused by deep fake imagery, false ID and misrepresentation. Now, crypto can help. Well, not crypto or cryptocurrencies because they are applications/digital assets. However, they are built on a really powerful technology, blockchain. And, blockchain technology is really good at ID verification, security and transparency/ traceability. Clearly, this could help with fears over AI and, like Nvidia, blockchain technologies could be a way to play or track the opportunity in AI. As always, we like to follow the money for evidence of our thinking. So, consider the following…..


  • Bitcoin is up 130% this year.
  • PayPal has launched a US dollar stablecoin ie a digital currency layered on to blockchain technology.
  • For those that giggled at NFT madness and wealth destruction, note Disney has launched its own NFT market platform in recent weeks.
  • And if you thought nobody wanted to read about their crypto wealth destruction, you might be surprised to hear that crypto exchange, Bullish, has just acquired industry publication, Coin Desk.
  • just raised $110 million with a $7 billion valuation.
  • Blockchain payments firm, Fnality, in London just did a funding round for $95 million backed by Goldman Sachs.


The funding rounds in particular indicate significant capital seeing a future for blockchain. Indeed, AI and its risks look like they are driving a faster blockchain comeback than investors expected. If the OpenAI rumours of a big AGI breakthrough are true, then the risk genie is truly out of the bottle and blockchain is on for a BIG comeback.


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