AI Foundation Plans to Scale Platform with Series B Funding

San Francisco-based AI Foundation, founded in 2017 by Rob Meadows and Lars Buttler, just closed a series B round for $17 million together with Mousse Partners, You & Mr. Jones, Founders Fund, Alpha Edison and Stone. The foundation previously closed a series A funding of $10.5 million in September 2018. The AI Foundation is both a commercial artificial intelligence company and nonprofit enterprise with the mission of bringing “the power and protection of AI to everyone in the world so they can participate fully in the future.”

VentureBeat reports that, according to a Foundation spokesperson, the latest funds will be used to scale its human-AI collaboration platform, “which allows people to create a digital persona that mirrors their own.” The Foundation’s steering committee, Global AI Council, “has a mandate to anticipate the negative effects of AI and figure out how to counteract them.”

One such fruit of its labors is Reality Defender, a free tool that “scans images, videos, and other media for known deepfakes and supports the reporting of suspected fakes.” The tool “runs content through AI-driven analysis techniques to detect signs of alteration or manipulation, while the tool’s community of users flags false positives to retrain the underlying models … [and] also draws on the AI Foundation’s partnerships with content creators to establish an ‘honest AI’ watermark that clearly identifies AI-generated deepfakes.”

The AI Foundation dubs Reality Defender as the first Guardian AI tool, “a responsibility platform built around the idea that everyone should have personal AI agents working on their behalf.”

The AI Foundation also recently teamed up with the Technical University of Munich’s (TUM) Visual Computing Lab “to explore new media forgery detection and flagging techniques, leading to the publication of several papers and the release of a public data set that other researchers can build upon.” Last May, Twitter cofounder Biz Stone became the foundation’s director of its nonprofit arm “committed to releasing tools, tech, policy, and guidelines for shielding against — and mitigating — risk.”

In late 2019, Digital Deepak, built and trained by the AI Foundation’s platform to mimic Indian-American author/alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra, debuted, offering “personalized advice and answers questions on ‘every aspect of well-being’.”

The Foundation added that, “the platform enables everyone to create their own AIs; extensions of the owners that look, sound, and think like them without replacing their humanity …  their AI [can] travel to billions of places at once, connect with millions of people, undertake continuous self-improvement, enjoy immersive entertainment, and craft their legacy in the world.”

VB reports that, “startups creating virtual beings, or artificial people powered by AI, have raised more than $320 million in venture capital to date.”

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