Alongside our daily news coverage, features and interviews, Verdict’s news team sifts through the week’s most intriguing data sets to bring you a roundup of the week in numbers. 

This week saw the US and China race to invest in quantum computing, a Bitcoin comeback, and a warning from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against artificial intelligence (AI) washing. TikTok also made headlines this week after concerns were raised about its role in online misinformation. Finally, SpaceX took flight in an effort to break the 50-year lunar hiatus.

US and China “neck and neck” in quantum computing 

China has been heavily investing in quantum computing technology and is now closely matched with the US in terms of its capabilities, according to a new report. 

GlobalData’s new Quantum Computing 2024 report states: “China has made enormous strides in catching up with the US”, with the countries now standing “neck and neck” despite pursuing differing strategies. 

In the US, private companies are leading development, while in China it is being driven by state institutions. 

Despite progress in both countries, GlobalData predicts a so-called quantum winter, with the industry facing “daunting engineering and macroeconomic hurdles”. 

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Source: GlobalData.

GlobalData’s 2023 Quantum Computing thematic intelligence report notes that the general lack of mergers and acquisitions activity is neither surprising nor concerning, due to the technology being at such an early stage of development.

Despite this, quantum computing globally has seen significant rises in investment activity between 2022 and 2023.

Despite no clear signs of commercial-scale quantum computing being apparent in the near future, GlobalData forecasts that this may be feasible by 2027.

Bitcoin surges past £48,000 in remarkable comeback

Bitcoin has experienced a notable upswing to conclude the week, with its value surpassing £48,000 ($60,384) at one point, marking a significant milestone since the initiation of spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds.

According to Coin Metrics, the flagship cryptocurrency concluded the week with a 4.6% gain, reaching £47,587.37, while Ether also witnessed a 2.69% increase, reaching £2,492.97.

Earlier in the week, Bitcoin reached as high as £48,207.78, marking its first ascent beyond this level since 11 January. This volatile surge followed the launch of spot Bitcoin ETFs, briefly touching £49,058.48. Notably, Bitcoin has not achieved the £48,000 level since March 2022.

Source: GlobalData.

Bitcoin’s possible comeback caused a stream of social media commentary. Cryptocurrency’s online controversy, however, continues to be a certainty in online discussion.

GlobalData’s social media analytics signal that crypto’s large drops in value, bankruptcies and scandals has majorly affected the net sentiment of posts made about the technology.

Net sentiment dropped from 0.51 to 0.42 between 2021 and 2022 alone, meaning that more and more online posts on crypto took a negative view of the technology.

Companies must not engage in ‘AI washing’, warns SEC chair

Companies must be cautious against ‘AI washing’ in their claims about the technology, warned chairman of the US SEC, Gary Gensler, during a speech at Yale Law School. 

Inspired by the term greenwashing, Gensler warned that companies must be honest about their AI strengths in company advertising and marketing materials. 

“Claims about prospects should have a reasonable basis, and investors should be told that basis… Investment advisers or broker-dealers also should not mislead the public by saying they are using an AI model when they are not, nor say they are using an AI model in a particular way but not do so,” said Gensler.

Any company that was found to be AI washing could be found guilty of violating the SEC’s rules. 

According to GlobalData’s 2022 Patent Statistics and Analytics report, AI experienced the highest rise in patent applications and publications. The total number of all patent publications including AI increased from around 150,000 in 2020 to more than 200,000 in 2021.

In a 2023 survey conducted by GlobalData, around 20% of businesses stated that they had a high adoption rate of AI into their workdays. As AI seeps into every sector, the companies creating the technology need to continue being honest and not rely upon AI as a marketing strategy.

TikTok strengthens anti-misinformation efforts ahead of EU elections

ByteDance-owned social media platform TikTok has announced that it will increase efforts to combat misinformation and covert influence operations in the run up to European Parliament elections in June.

The company plans to introduce a local language app, named Election Centres, in each of the 27 EU member states.

This initiative builds upon TikTok’s groundwork in addressing misinformation initiated in 2021, with significant acceleration during national elections in Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia and Spain in 2023.

The primary objective of the app is to better educate European users about the electoral process, enabling them to distinguish between factual information and misinformation.

GlobalData’s 2023 social media thematic intelligence report noted that regulators were cracking down on social media companies over their responsibility for content seen by their user base.

Source: GlobalData.

Patent activity within the social media business has largely dropped due to the rising maturity of the platforms needing less innovation.

However, social media companies are now focused on developing and integrating AI into their platforms. One possible use case for AI on social media sites is the automation of content moderation. Not only could this save moderators time and help their mental health, it may help take down misinformation on social media platforms at a faster rate.

However, the ubiquity of generative AI has made it easier than ever for bad actors to create and spread false information online.

SpaceX launches US mission to break 50-year hiatus for successful lunar landings

A SpaceX rocket successfully took off on Thursday 15 February, carrying the Nova-C spacecraft developed by Houston-based Intuitive Machines, on a groundbreaking mission to break the 50-year hiatus for successful US lunar landings.

The Nova-C is set to touch down on the south side of the lunar surface on 22 February.

Intuitive Machines hopes to be the first to land a privately built spacecraft intact on the lunar surface – a title that has eluded numerous companies and non-profits in recent years.

Until now, lunar landings were predominantly orchestrated by governments with substantial financial investments.

The US has not achieved a successful lunar landing since 1972 when a spacecraft touched down in one piece. Previous attempts by commercial entities faced significant challenges.

Source: GlobalData.

GlobalData’s jobs analytics reflect a staggering 350% increase in space economy-related job listings from January 2020 to June 2023.

Despite this increase, the space economy is still experiencing a labour shortage.

Competitive wages from other companies in the technology sector alongside a lack of experience and understanding of the space economy have been credited by GlobalData as the two main factors fuelling this skills shortage.