In March, a buzz of activity surrounded AI and its useful applications. AI applies to many of the Space-based intelligence systems that are driving the emerging Space industry forward. As 1,200+ science founders created a petition to slow the spread of overwhelming AI development, science innovators discussed the purpose and policy of AI.
Due to their prominence in rocket systems, robotics, predictive maintenance, and other components of the Space innovation race, the challenges of AI are leading concerns of emerging Space industry innovators, such as Better Futures' parent company, LiftPort Group, which is the innovator of the Lunar elevator project.
Demand, Domination, and the Dominoes of AI Generation
Artificial intelligence now dominates innovation thinking. For everything on earth, corresponding systems are built for the near-heaven. All humans hoping to someday reach the far-flung corners of the Galaxy have some interaction with artificial intelligence systems. For, as innovation advances, these systems govern the hundreds of little decisions made in the final few seconds of a rocket launch
An Open Letter
The Future of Life Institute, a leader in artificial intelligence innovation, issued an “immediate pause” letter, calling on all AI developers to put the pause on “training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4” for at least 6 months. The petition received signatures from high-profile AI innovators and industry leaders including Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk. A call for a pause followed the discovery of just how powerful OpenAI’s GPT4 is and will be.
The petition, which at the time of this report had 2,568 signatures, made a point to note that AI developments should not pause altogether, but that highly powered GPT-4 projects should be paused. The pause “should be public and verifiable and include all key actors,” The Future of Life Institute wrote. The pause would include “generative” AI, Fast Company reported. It would last with enough space for creators to understand if the projects add verifiable helpful value to human development and if they can be contained.
In March, the New Space Age week conference at MIT Sloan business school featured several panels of the brightest minds in the Space industry. A common thread running through their discussion was the prominent role that AI design now plays in all off-world innovation.
James Rebesco, the CEO of Striveworks,was present at the MIT Sloan New Space Age conference on March 17. He described that he was mildly “annoyed” by the concept of trusted AI. To Rebesco, AI is not so much about trust as it is about “operationalizing” AI. Rebesco and others on the panel explained that AI needs to be wrapped in policy to make it have the constraints and necessary protections to use in the real world.
For this process to work efficiently AI needs to “disappear” into innovation. The St. Patrick’s day MIT panel discussed processes and policies that will move forward this process of absorption. The challenge innovators face is defining the traceability of AI in the systems and auditing the AI throughout the process. The proposed concept makes AI as “boring” and untraceable as a HEX bolt in a rocket.
A16z Space Market Map
Last week, Andreesen Horowitz's team presented a market segmentation on space investments with a post analyzing the Space Industry.
The A16z team broke the space industry into Seraphim Space segmentation infographic we featured last month.
Part of the A16z potential investment thesis is building rockets and satellites requires precise engineering and advanced manufacturing facilities with many suppliers. SpaceX initially did everything in-house, but now an ecosystem of manufacturing and software companies serves the space economy. Software is a key enabler for space, with SpaceX inspiring a lineage of space software companies. Commercial space industry SaaS is now available and an exciting space to watch for investment potential.
The A16z site does say the post does not represent any current or future investments with a pretty lengthy disclaimer at the bottom of the post, but one would think the intensive research and write-up was not simply busywork. Nevertheless, we love their infographic and analysis.
In late February, the Space Com conference met in Orlando, Florida at the Orange County Convention Center to discuss the vast applications of science and technology composing the space player landscape. Better Futures sat down with Luciano Giesso, the head of sales, global governments at Satellogic to get some insights about the Space data-gathering entities that were present.
“We are in the earth observation business. We do earth observation satellites and that is the core of our business," said Giesso. He then detailed the wide scope of Space players that were in attendance on the same panel he spoke as an earth observation representative for. These included Amazon Web Services, Dell Technologies, representatives from academia in Australia, among others.
"It was pretty broad in the sense that we had different players and different parts of the value chain of what it means to deliver data to end users. That is sort of a reflection of how the event is built,” said Giesso, who explained the broad scope of the Space players represented.
Giesso was among the few earth orbital intelligence representatives present. He spoke on how grateful he was to present the commercial value of earth orbital intelligence to the panel. Giesso highlighted the importance of earth orbital technology at a critical time in the history of earth observation and high altitude surveillance gathering technologies.
In early February 2023, U.S. headlines were heavily populated with news of a Chinese surveillance aircraft, dubbed by mainstream media as the “Chinese spy balloon”, an event that caused a stir and political debate over the correct aerospace and government response. The debate over the Chinese surveillance craft and its purpose flying over the United States drew the attention of general audiences to expanding technologies that gather data from a high altitude or from the earth's near orbit.
While earth observation intelligence is governed by strict principles by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs on the global level, there was a common trend of fear over the surveillance craft. Time magazine wrote that the surveillance balloon had "inflated" America's paranoia. The New York Times called the national response to the balloon the"great balloon freak out." As news drew attention to the "poor man's satellite" balloon system, and other media to the vast network of corresponding satellite systems the Chinese-state owns, fear was sparked over a new era of "war on the edge," The Guardian and Time magazine reported separately.
Yet, as general public fear was kindled, space commercialization players reassured their audiences that the earth orbital intelligence technology can also be used for good.
Giesso, from the capacity of his Satellogic role, explained how his company aligns closely with U.S. and NATO compliance as a U.S.-based entity. By giving an insider's perspective, Giesso gave some context into the applications and compliance with legal expectations affixed to earth observation entities. He explained the role earth observation intelligence plays in pioneering data accessibility all over the world. For Satellogic, the main objective is to pioneer the accessibility of Space-based data for humanitarian as well as commercial interest-driven purposes.
“When it comes to our role before governments, we have no ties to China in that sense. We are very much looking to democratize access to Space data and be able to help governments around the world, both on commercial activities, but also on__I’m going to give you a straightforward example_we supported Ukraine in the war against Russia. We’re providing imagery to NGOs, and the country of Ukraine, and the U.S. and to NATO allies to be able to help evacuate civil populations," said Giesso, explaining that earth orbital intelligence can also aid ground efforts to access resources, as Satellogic has done with Ukraine while the nation has been under invasion.
“We take a stance in those kinds of things because we really believe in the use of data for peaceful purposes,” Giesso said, reiterating that SpaceCom had focused strongly on the mitigation of Space-based data for civil interest uses.
The role of the Chinese national-linked surveillance craft was part of a state-driven aerial surveillance program, The Washington Post reported. Yet, from Giesso's description of Satellogic services, one can see that there are many other applications of earth observation technology. The peaceful application of these sciences have been able to save civilian lives in hostile situations. As commercialization of Space becomes more mainstream, the general public will gain a stronger realization of the pivotal role earth observation intelligence plays in powering modern technology.
Better Futures analyzes that general public observers will begin to understand the applications of earth orbital intelligence gathering technology are what makes the difference. By understanding this, the public will overcome its fear of intelligence gathering from aerospace and Outer Space. Rather, the public will engage in formulating new ways to, like Satellogic, use this technology for the betterment of Humankind.
Orange County Convention Center photographed in November 2019.
Article by Rachel Brooks.
Better Future's employees and interns contribute to this blog.