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No robot-built datacenters on Earth, let alone the Moon • The Register

Opinion Making a call on the quality of a new idea in tech can be hard. But if you ask me, not in the case of Lonestar Data Holdings, whose plan to build datacenters on the Moon is literal lunacy.

Every detail of the roadmap, from tentative tiny proofs of concept to massive underground server farms built and tended by Moon robots, is priceless nonsense. From Apollo onward, every spacecraft has had data storage and network access. We have retrieved data held in New Horizon‘s 16GB filing system from Kuiper Belt object Arrokoth, 16 thousand times more distant than the Moon. Concept bloody well proved.

As for building bit lairs in lava pipes by robot, nobody’s built a datacenter by robot on Earth yet. And nobody seems minded to try.

As the current rule of thumb is that landing a kilo of stuff on the Moon is around $1m, with an HP ProLiant DL380 G5 Storage Server clocking in at around 30kg, even FedEx suddenly seems like a bargain. Everything about space is very expensive, very difficult, and absolutely reserved for things you can’t do any other way.

The biggest mystery about LoneStar is how on Earth it got $5m in startup funding, just enough to land a laptop, yet addressing that mystery is surprisingly useful.

The proposal has resonance because it seems to be an exciting science-fiction answer to problems we instinctively know exist. What LoneStar is good at is provoking a thought experiment. Its ultimate justification is that our home world is too dangerous a place to keep our most valuable data. Bombs! Earthquakes! Hackers! It’s worth adding an unimaginably expensive extra tier to Amazon’s storage offerings to make things really, really safe.

You might think you’d be better off with a bunch of high-reliability datacenters underground all over Earth, and you’d be right, but that’s not the point. Everybody – individuals, companies, nations, and cultures – has their data crown jewels, and everybody is instinctively prepared to keep them safer than the more mundane. Identifying what those jewels are, how much they’re worth, and how best to guard them is a very worthwhile exercise.

The actual Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, a set of royal ceremonial objects kept in the Tower of London, illustrate the problems wonderfully. Their monetary worth is unknown but given the British Crown is the symbol of national authority, they’re beyond important. Although easy to identify, it turns out that sticking them in a big castle marked “Crown Jewels Here” isn’t entirely safe. They’ve been stolen, melted down, and sold, with a near-complete reboot needed after controversial 17th century leader Oliver Cromwell disposed of the lot. (The Scots cannily hid theirs over the Interregnum*, but bits kept getting stolen thereafter.) Putting your data equivalents in one super-safe place, even if it’s on the Moon, will attract attention.

Expensive

The biggest disincentive to extra-special safeguards for extra-special data is cost. It costs a lot to classify and freshen the categories of data worth attention. Conversely, as bulk data storage pricing is inversely proportional to latency, the very slow storage tiers used for disaster recovery backups are the cheapest per-byte, so you might as well treat everything the same. And since there are legal limits to how long things must be kept, that’s often the event horizon of the whole affair.

That attitude is shortsighted. It’s perfectly fine, if you can’t identify your crown jewels now, to keep everywhere they might be for later. But what? Some data might seem useless after milliseconds, like the market conditions you got fractionally before your competitors that let you do an advantageous trade.

Ditto last August’s grocery bill, or the metrics of an app you’ve just retired. Yet data is never just data, it’s also context, and as any historian will tell you, as data ages and its primary utility fades, the picture it paints about what was going on at the time is often increasingly valuable. That August grocery bill is a lot more interesting now than it was in January.

The terabytes of the daily grind encode signals about what an enterprise is doing right and wrong, not just for today, or the quarter, or even the last five years, but signals that can be read in decades to come.

Countries jealously guard their national archives; we have the tools now, from individual through SME to enterprise, to think the same way. Data that costs so much to obtain and process does not lose its value lightly, but it transmutes over time. Your future AIs will love it.

Even if you change nothing about data storage, thinking this way gets us out of short-termism and sharpens appreciation of long-term strategy and abiding value, and there are very few organisations of any size who don’t need more of that. But the tangible benefits of having substantial archives of data for future AIs to sample, while hard to define, are equally hard to deny.

Companies thrive or die on the quality of how they perceive the market and the decisions they make as a result. The very finest record of how your outfit has evolved is there for as long as you choose to keep it.

But beware. Embedded context may not go your way. The finest, most gaudy gems in the UK Crown jewels, the Koh-I-Noor diamond and the Cullinan diamond, are there by dint of historically recent conquest, problematic symbolism that will in time make the controversy over the British keeping Greece’s Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum (where they are known as the Elgin Marbles after the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire who took them) look like a game of cribbage. The current emperors of data, the Googles and the Metas, may like to mediatate on this.

The ethics of where your most valuable data comes from is up to you to deal with, but thinking about it is also a natural byproduct of asking yourself what the true value of your data is over time, and what may be worth a moonshot to preserve.

There will be datacenters on the Moon one day, but only when they’re the best answer to questions, not just the silliest. For now, the questions themselves, of risk versus value, of long term versus short term, of evolution versus mere survival, are worth every moment spent on them.

That’s as true of a harassed data manager in a 10-year-old hundred-person company as it is of a 96-year-old head of a 966-year-old dynasty. Long-termism has its merits. ®

* The period in English history when the throne was vacant between the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the Restoration of Charles II in 1660.

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Culture

Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.


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