artificial intelligence

Klang gets $8.95M for an MMO sim sitting atop Improbable’s dev platform

Berlin-based games studio Klang, which is building a massive multiplayer online simulation called Seed utilizing Improbable’s virtual world builder platform, has just bagged $8.95M in Series A funding to support development of the forthcoming title. The funding is led by veteran European VC firm Northzone. It follows a seed raise for Seed, finalized in March 2018, and led by Makers Fund, with participation by firstminute capital, Neoteny, Mosaic Ventures, and Novator — bringing the total funding raised for the project to $13.95M. The studio was founded in 2013, and originally based in Reykjavík, Iceland, before relocating to Berlin. Klang’s original backers include Greylock Partners, Joi Ito, and David Helgason, as well as original investors London Venture Partners. The latest tranche of f...

As facial recognition technology becomes pervasive, Microsoft (yes, Microsoft) issues a call for regulation

Technology companies have a privacy problem. They’re terribly good at invading ours and terribly negligent at protecting their own. And with the push by technologists to map, identify and index our physical as well as virtual presence with biometrics like face and fingerprint scanning, the increasing digital surveillance of our physical world is causing some of the companies that stand to benefit the most to call out to government to provide some guidelines on how they can use the incredibly powerful tools they’ve created. That’s what’s behind today’s call from Microsoft President Brad Smith for government to start thinking about how to oversee the facial recognition technology that’s now at the disposal of companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple and government security and surveillance se...

Machine learning boosts Swiss startup’s shot at human-powered land speed record

The current world speed record for riding a bike down a straight, flat road was set in 2012 by a Dutch team, but the Swiss have a plan to topple their rivals — with a little help from machine learning. An algorithm trained on aerodynamics could streamline their bike, perhaps cutting air resistance by enough to set a new record. Currently the record is held by Sebastiaan Bowier, who in 2012 set a record of 133.78 km/h, or just over 83 mph. It’s hard to imagine how his bike, which looked more like a tiny landbound rocket than any kind of bicycle, could be significantly improved on. But every little bit counts when records are measured down a hundredth of a unit, and anyway, who knows but that some strange new shape might totally change the game? To pursue this, researchers at the École Polyt...

A new hope: AI for news media

Jarno M. Koponen Contributor Jarno M. Koponen is working on intelligent systems and human-centered personalization. He currently is product lead at Yle, one of the leading media houses in the Nordics. More posts by this contributor AI on your lock screen The next AI is no AI To put it mildly, news media has been on the sidelines in AI development. As a consequence, in the age of AI-powered personalized interfaces, the news organizations don’t anymore get to define what’s real news, or, even more importantly, what’s truthful or trustworthy. Today, social media platforms, search engines and content aggregators control user flows to the media content and affect directly what kind of news content is created. As a result, the future of news media isn’t anymore in its own hands. Case closed? The...

Microsoft wants to make you a better team player by nudging you into submission

Microsoft announced a number of new tools for its MyAnalytics tool for Office 365 users today that are geared toward giving employees more data about how they work, as well as ways to improve how teams work together. In today’s businesses, everybody has to be a team player, after all, and if you want to bring technology to bear on this, you first need data — and once you have data, you can go into full-on analytics mode and maybe even throw in a smidge of machine learning, too. So today, Microsoft is launching two new products: Workplace Analytics and MyAnalytics nudges. Yes, Office 365 will now nudge you to be a better team player. “Building better teams starts with transparent, data-driven dialog—but no one is perfect and sticking to good collaboration habits can be challenging in a fast...

Glasswing Ventures closes its artificial intelligence-focused fund with $112 million

One year after receiving a whopping $75 million commitment to invest in early stage companies applying artificial intelligence to various industries, Glasswing Ventures has closed its debut fund with $112 million.  It’s a significant milestone for a firm that purports to be the largest early stage investor focused on machine learning on the East Coast, and one of the largest early stage funds to be led by women. Founded by Rudina Seseri alongside her longtime investing partner Rick Grinnell and bolstered by the addition of former portfolio executive Sarah Fay, Glasswing so far has invested in three startups: BotChain (a company spun up from Glasswing’s early investment in the AI management company, Talla); Allure Security, a threat detection company; and Terbium Labs, whose service alerts ...

Apple combines machine learning and Siri teams under Giannandrea

Apple is creating a new AI/ML team that brings together its Core ML and Siri teams under one leader in John Giannandrea. Apple confirmed this morning that the combined Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning team, which houses Siri, will be led by the recent hire, who came to Apple this year after an eight-year stint at Google, where he led the Machine Intelligence, Research and Search teams. Before that he founded Metaweb Technologies and Tellme. The internal structures of the Siri and Core ML teams will remain the same, but they will now answer to Giannandrea. Apple’s internal structure means that the teams will likely remain integrated across the org as they’re wedded to various projects, including developer tools, mapping, Core OS and more. ML is everywhere, basically. In the earl...

Apple’s Shortcuts will flip the switch on Siri’s potential

Matthew Cassinelli Contributor Matthew Cassinelli is a former member of the Workflow team and works as an independent writer and consultant. He previously worked as a data analyst for VaynerMedia. At WWDC, Apple pitched Shortcuts as a way to ”take advantage of the power of apps” and ”expose quick actions to Siri.” These will be suggested by the OS, can be given unique voice commands, and will even be customizable with a dedicated Shortcuts app. But since this new feature won’t let Siri interpret everything, many have been lamenting that Siri didn’t get much better — and is still lacking compared to Google Assistant or Amazon Echo. But to ignore Shortcuts would be missing out on the bigger picture. Apple’s strengths have always been the device ecosystem and the apps that run on them. With S...

Your next summer DIY project is an AI-powered doodle camera

With long summer evenings comes the perfect opportunity to dust off your old boxes of circuits and wires and start to build something. If you’re short on inspiration, you might be interested in artist and engineer Dan Macnish’s how-to guide on building an AI-powered doodle camera using a thermal printer, Raspberry pi, a dash of Python and Google’s Quick Draw data set. “Playing with neural networks for object recognition one day, I wondered if I could take the concept of a Polaroid one step further, and ask the camera to re-interpret the image, printing out a cartoon instead of a faithful photograph.” Macnish wrote on his blog about the project, called Draw This. To make this work, Macnish drew on Google’s object recognition neural network and the data set created for the game Google Quick,...

AI spots legal problems with tech T&Cs in GDPR research project

Technology is the proverbial double-edged sword. And an experimental European research project is ensuring this axiom cuts very close to the industry’s bone indeed by applying machine learning technology to critically sift big tech’s privacy policies — to see whether AI can automatically identify violations of data protection law. The still-in-training privacy policy and contract parsing tool — which is called ‘Claudette‘: Aka (automated) clause detector — is being developed by researchers at the European University Institute in Florence. They’ve also now got support from European consumer organization BEUC — for a ‘Claudette meets GDPR‘ project — which specifically applies the tool to evaluate compliance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. Early results from this project hav...

Planck Re scores $12M Series A to simplify insurance underwriting with artificial intelligence

Planck Re, a startup that wants to simplify insurance underwriting with artificial intelligence, announced today that it has raised a $12 million Series A. The funding was led by Arbor Ventures, with participation from Viola FinTech and Eight Roads. Co-founder and CEO Elad Tsur tells TechCrunch that the capital will be used to expand Planck Re’s product line into more segments, including retail, contractors, IT and manufacturing, and grow its research and development team in Israel and North American sales team. The Tel Aviv and New York-based startup plans to focus first on its business in the United States, where it has already launched pilot programs with several insurance carriers. Tsur says that Planck Re’s clients generally use it to help underwrite insurance for small to medium-size...

MeetFrank nets $1.1M for its passive job matching chatbot

MeetFrank, aka a ‘secret’ recruitment app that uses machine learning plus a chatbot wrapper to take the strain out of passive job hunting and talent-to-vacancy matching, has closed a €1 million (~$1.1M) seed funding round to fuel market expansion in Europe. Hummingbird VC, Karma VC, and Change Ventures are the investors. The Estonian startup was only founded last September but says it has ~125,000 active users in its first markets: Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, plus its most recent market addition, Germany, an expansion this seed has financed. Around 2,000 companies are using the app to try to attract talent. In Germany employers on board with MeetFrank include Daimler, Eon, Delivery Hero, SumUp, Blinkist, High Mobility and MyTaxi. “The average company profile we have at the...