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Issue #2

One-person billion-dollar companies are possible thanks to generative AI, STEM is worthless, deepfake steals $25M from CFO, and more.

News from February 2 - Feb 8, 2024

One-Person Billion Dollar Company

Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, believes that generative AI could lead to the first single-person company to reach a billion-dollar valuation. Altman has been chatting about this topic within a group chat with other tech CEOs, including Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian. The general consensus among tech leaders is that AI will allow founders to operate with much smaller yet more efficient teams.

This optimism for AI automation comes at a questionable time. In 2023, the tech industry experienced waves of layoffs. These layoffs have continued into 2024, with over 30,000 employees being impacted this year.


US Producing More Oil Than Ever

The United States recently set a record for daily oil production, pumping out roughly 13.3 million barrels a day. This eclipses other major oil-producing countries like Russia (9.5 million barrels per day) and Saudi Arabia (9.1 million barrels per day). Efficiency is up as well in the US. There are just 501 active oil rigs in the US today, compared to 1600 back in 2014. This rise in oil production could make America’s economy more resilient. But, it has led to a bearish sentiment in global markets. 

In response to oversupply, OPEC countries have agreed to cut oil production in the first half of 2024. But, this may not be enough to curb the flood of new oil coming down the pipeline. This surge comes at the same time as tensions rise in the Middle East. So far, incidents like the militants' attack in the Red Sea have only caused short-term spikes in price. Investors are wary, though, as pressure is unfolding in Iraq, Israel, and neighboring countries. All this has caused the price of oil to drop by more than 10% annually for the first time since 2020.


Farmers Threaten Siege on Rome

Farmers across Europe have started protesting across the continent. Dissent began last month in France and expanded from Germany to Greece.

The protests were triggered by taxes on essential farming resources, including diesel fuel. European farmers point out that fertilizer and energy costs have surged due to the conflict in Ukraine, impacting their profits. They also challenge the stringent net zero carbon policies, arguing these regulations hurt their ability to compete internationally. Additionally, the allowance of inexpensive imports further undermines local farmers' market competitiveness. The farming community is advocating for tax relief and support programs to ensure local farmers can compete effectively.

Many farmers are done talking and have taken to the streets in action against the restrictions. They're using tractors to block motorways and disrupt traffic, as well as throwing waste at government buildings.

In Italy, farmers are heading towards Rome in hopes of fighting these restrictive agricultural regulations. They’re flying the Italian flag and holding signs touting the phrase “No farmer, No food.” Over 150 tractors have amassed outside of Rome.


Bulletin Board

  1. Millennials value free time over work. 60% of American millennials would take a 20% pay cut to get a better work-life balance. Baby boomers were the generation least likely to share this sentiment, with just 33% willing to take a pay cut. This could be a sign from younger generations that hustle culture is out, and work-life balance is in. (Source)
  1. Deepfake steals $25M from CFO. An AI-generated deepfake tricked a finance employee into sending $25 million to scammers. According to Hong Kong police, this employee paid out the funds after attending a conference call with what they thought were other members of the company’s staff. But all attendees on the call were actually ​​deepfake recreations. (Source)
  1. Solar farms can change the weather. Solar farms could turn the Sahara into a tropical landscape by absorbing enough heat to shift weather patterns. (Source)
  1. Big Bank: STEM is worthless. AI is turning STEM skills into “stranded assets.” Paul Donovan, Global Chief Economist of UBS: “many STEM skills, like computer programming, are deteriorating in value faster than expected thanks to the rise of generative AI.” (Source)
  1. Ancient material is replacing plastics. Cork is making a comeback as companies look for alternative ways to ditch plastics. This pliant, waterproof bark is being used for everything from flooring to furniture. Cork bark can also be harvested without destroying its trees, meaning that using cork means more trees that can divert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. (Source)

Disclaimer: This blog offers insights into international business and global events for informational purposes only. It is not intended as investment or business advice. WeavePay is not liable for any decisions made based on the content provided.

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