Hey there, dear readers! Just as you were recovering from those New Year’s parties and feasts, we’re back with some dazzling news for you. The crypto world doesn’t take holidays; it keeps bubbling away like those bubbles in your champagne glass. The year kicked off with Bitcoin soaring to new heights and a Mickey Mouse NFT collection craze. A new crypto meme skyrocketed in value thanks to ecosystem developments, and AI seems to be advising judges on when to bang their gavels. Ready to dive into the wild ride of last week’s happenings?

The Year Starts Strong for Bitcoin

Bitcoin’s price (BTC) has kicked off 2024 with a sprint, surging over 7% in 24 hours and edging close to $46,000, the highest level since April 2022. 

As in recent weeks, the anticipation of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) giving the go-ahead for several spot Bitcoin ETFs seems to be the driving force behind this growth. The regulatory agency might start notifying ETF sponsors earlier than the official date by which their applications should be approved.

According to Reuters, citing insiders (aka VIPs of finance gossip), asset managers who hustled to meet the end-of-year deadline might start rolling by the final decision date of January 10th. Among this elite group are names like Ark Investments, 21Shares, Valkyrie, Bitwise, WisdomTree, BlackRock, and a whole other squad.

Some of these 14 asset managers, vying for the green light on these ETFs, have already filed forms with the SEC, detailing sponsor fees and other technical jazz. Fidelity’s ETF is currently flaunting the lowest proposed sponsor fee at 0.39%. However many firms have not yet disclosed their planned rates. 

Market commentators and analysts are divided on ETF approval’s impact

“Some cryptocurrency trading platform analysts reckon that even with an ETF approval, Bitcoin might not pop right away,” said Ryan Lee, head analyst at Bitget Research, in an email. 

Then there are the optimists, like the influential trader Scott Melker, predicting Bitcoin could reach $54,000 in the next few days once the SEC gives that ETF nod. 

Meanwhile, Matrixport’s crystal ball sees BTC hitting $50,000 within a month after a January spot BTC ETF passage.

The big guns of traditional finance, like BlackRock and VanEck, are among the 14 companies in this race. Their involvement might amp up the buying spree for Bitcoin in the coming months, as traders anticipate it to be the first regulated spot Bitcoin product in the US. 

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A New Crypto Meme Coin Shot Up by 75% in Just a Week

The rising popularity of EVM-compatible blockchains and the process of parallelization are fueling the surge of SEI tokens on the Sei Network, which has seen a whopping 75% spike in the last week.

Sei Network strutted onto the scene in August as a trading-focused blockchain, backed by bigwigs like Jump Crypto and Multicoin Capital. It’s all about speed, low fees, and other fancy features tailored to support specific trading applications. 

The parallel tale of EVM seems to be tipping its hat to SEI token holders on Sei Network, gifting buyers a whopping 75% profit in the last week and making them the champs on the first day of 2024. Parallelization, a fancy blockchain process, handles multiple transactions at once. Ethereum Virtual Machine is like the virtual HQ where all Ethereum’s smart contracts and apps hang out. A blockchain that buddies up with EVM is just another network that can run these cool apps.

SEI network tokens hit a $400 million cap within the first 24 hours post-launch, but in the following months, gained little over as the intra-network trading behavior stayed low-key. However, the recent trading frenzy on blockchains like Solana and Avalanche has speculators rolling the dice on non-Ethereum chains. Networks like Sei are reaping the rewards from this shift away from the usual Ethereum darling.

Data indicates that Sei Network’s intra-network metrics are revving up, leaning heavily on bullish bets for short-term ecosystemic games. The meme coin SEIYAN, obviously a cult term for SEI holders, has skyrocketed by 400% in the last week, signaling growth within Sei’s broader ecosystem.

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Source: DefiLlama

Over $10.4 million is locked up in dapps based on Sei, with over 95% of that belonging to the trading service Astroport. 

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Will AI Be Presiding in Court?

The AI frenzy is reaching epic proportions, and this time, it’s made its way into the legal realm too. Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, spiced up his annual roundup by featuring artificial intelligence as the star of his personal statement. He predicted that judges would be around “for some time,” but also stated, “With equal certainty, I predict that AI will significantly impact judicial work, especially in court proceedings.”

He wrote that AI-induced changes won’t just tinker with how judges do their job but also with their understanding of AI’s role in the cases they handle. Roberts highlighted that as technology evolves, courts will have to “weigh its proper use” in legal proceedings.

According to John, AI can “undoubtedly assist” the current judicial system in advancing the goals of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1, aiming for “just, speedy, and inexpensive” case resolutions.

Roberts also emphasized that “machines can’t entirely replace the key players in court,” suggesting judges might still gauge the “sincerity of the defendant’s statements” when delivering a verdict.

Displeasure with AI’s Courtroom Performance

On December 31st, former lawyer to entrepreneur and ex-U.S. President Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, accused AI of slipping fake quotes into legal documents.

Meanwhile, Judge Roberts continued in his statement that “any AI usage demands caution and humility.” He specifically highlighted AI’s “hallucinations,” where its responses contain false or misleading information, served up as if they were facts.

Just to jog your memory, courts in the UK have already given judges a crash course on using AI. Moreover, a posse of top judges in the United Kingdom has rolled out an AI manual, a guidebook that the courts of England and Wales are meant to follow.

Seems like AI’s joining the legal league, taking a seat alongside judges and lawyers. Next thing you know, we’ll have AI debating cases and objecting in court.

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Mickey Mouse Joins the NFT Craze

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Source: OpenSea

The world’s most recognizable character and Disney’s shining star is back in the limelight, but this time, on OpenSea chats. No, it’s not Disney auctioning off its beloved character. It’s all because of the U.S. law that allows copyright to last only for 95 years, and that clock ran out on this version of the character.

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Once the copyright expired, three NFT collections linked to the old mascot seized the top three spots in OpenSea’s 24-hour trend list. The NFT collection named “Steamboat Willie Public Domain 2024” claimed the throne, racking up around $1.2 million in trading volume. Another collection called “Steamboat Willie” snagged second place, and “Steamboat Willie’s Riverboat” steamed into third place on the list.

Although the copyright on the old version of the character has expired, the company made it clear that the modern versions remain untouchable. In a statement to CNN, a Disney representative declared that the company would “continue to defend” its rights to the modern versions of Mickey Mouse and other works still covered by copyrights. “We’ll be working to avoid any confusion among consumers caused by the unauthorized use of Mickey and our other iconic characters.”

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Well, folks, that wraps up our first digest of the year. Hope our news entertained you, brought some laughs, and dropped some mind-blowing crypto and NFT tidbits your way. We’ll be here keeping an eye on the latest buzz, so you go ahead and relax until our next edition. See you real soon.

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