CES Panel Examines Problem of Bias in Artificial Intelligence

As artificial intelligence is increasingly embedded into devices and experiences, the problem of racial and gender bias has become apparent, in several embarrassing and disturbing incidents. The industry has paid attention to studying how bias is introduced — often via the underlying data — and how to fix it. Former FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, now at MLC Strategies, led a discussion with Helloalice.com president Elizabeth Gore and Uber head of inclusive engagement Bernard Coleman on the topic. Continue reading CES Panel Examines Problem of Bias in Artificial Intelligence

Foreign Investment Law Does Not Deter Chinese Investing

The U.S. has yet to define the specifics of a 2018 law designed to limit foreign access to critical technologies. In the meantime, Chinese investors continue to put money in U.S. startups and venture capital funds. U.S. tech entrepreneurs also welcome a connection with China, and investment between the two countries remains significant. The tangle of investments in a single company can make it hard to determine provenance. Even so, successful Chinese AI startup SenseTime Group was blacklisted by the Trump administration. Continue reading Foreign Investment Law Does Not Deter Chinese Investing

SoftBank Debuts Vision Fund 2, Focused on AI Investment

SoftBank Group changed technology venture capital when it launched the Vision Fund in May 2017, by setting $100 million as the minimum investment. Since then, the Vision Fund, which raised almost $100 billion, has invested in Uber Technologies, Didi Chuxing Technology and other startups. Now, the Japanese company is debuting Vision Fund 2 and jumpstarting it with its own $38 billion investment. The fund, which will focus on artificial intelligence, has already drawn investment commitments from Apple and Microsoft. Continue reading SoftBank Debuts Vision Fund 2, Focused on AI Investment

Tech Firms and Investors Develop AI Ethics, Best Practices

A growing number of venture capital and technology executives are pushing for a code of ethics for artificial intelligence startups, as well as tools to make algorithms’ decision-making process more transparent and best practices that include open, consistent communication. At Google, chief decision scientist Cassie Kozyrkov believes humans can fix AI problems. But the technology is still under intense scrutiny from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city of San Francisco and the European Commission, among others. Continue reading Tech Firms and Investors Develop AI Ethics, Best Practices

Cryptocurrencies to Launch Soon From Messaging Services

Facebook, Telegram and Signal plan to utilize their messaging services as platforms to launch new cryptocurrencies over the next year. Their virtual currencies will allow users to send money to contacts around the world via the messaging services. According to inside sources, Facebook has been secretly working on a coin for WhatsApp that users could “instantly” send to friends or family. Facebook’s WhatsApp project is developed to the point that the company is already in discussions with cryptocurrency exchanges. Continue reading Cryptocurrencies to Launch Soon From Messaging Services

Blockchain at CES 2019 – What a Difference a Year Can Make

Blockchain sessions and projects still abound at CES this year, but the bloom is definitely off the rose. At last year’s sessions it was standing room only, but this year it was no problem finding a seat. Given that cryptocurrencies are down 82 percent since last year at this time, I guess it’s no surprise. The good news, however, is that with a lot of the hype and “quick buck” mentality deflated, there’s a lot of good work and investing still being done. Unlike last year, which was one ICO announcement after another, this year was much more subdued and focused on products that address real business needs. Continue reading Blockchain at CES 2019 – What a Difference a Year Can Make

CES Panel: Innovators/Disruptors Discuss Paths to Success

Shelley Zalis, chief executive of The Female Quotient, dubs herself a chief disruptor in many roles in her life, making her the ideal person to speak with a panel of like-minded innovators and disruptors at CES 2019. They included John Padgett, chief experience and innovation operator at Carnival Corporation; Arlan Hamilton, founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital; and Patrick Brown, founder/chief executive of Impossible Foods. They all had tales to tell about their challenging roads to success. Continue reading CES Panel: Innovators/Disruptors Discuss Paths to Success

Startups Use Blockchain to Democratize Artificial Intelligence

A group of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists believe blockchain can be used with artificial intelligence to create an open marketplace and thus speed development of AI projects. University of California computer science professor Dawn Song and Hanson Robotics chief scientist Ben Goertzel are among the group that wager adoption of blockchain would create a wider distribution of data and algorithms. That would democratize the development of AI beyond the handful of large companies currently dominating the field. Continue reading Startups Use Blockchain to Democratize Artificial Intelligence

Consolidation Is Reducing the Number of Indie Ad Tech Firms

As Google and Facebook lock up their dominance over advertising dollars, smaller ad tech companies are withering. In 2015, according to CB Insights, venture capital financing for these smaller companies peaked at $2.92 billion. This year, the total dollars going to these firms is slated to be half of that number. As a result, the number of smaller independent firms is diminishing, plummeting 21 percent since 2013. LUMA Partners reported that, by Q2 2018, there were only 185 such companies left. Continue reading Consolidation Is Reducing the Number of Indie Ad Tech Firms

Marketers Use New Tech to Leverage Data From Smart TVs

Smart TVs have become a boon to data collectors and their marketer-clients, who are using new technology to identify what people are watching on Internet TV, sometimes without their knowledge. San Francisco-based Samba TV, for example, which has collected viewing data from 13.5 million smart TVs in the United States, has raised $40 million in venture capital. About a dozen television manufacturers have inked deals with Samba TV to embed its software in some of their sets. Continue reading Marketers Use New Tech to Leverage Data From Smart TVs

Today’s Podcasts Are Finally Proving They Can Turn a Profit

Podcasts have the potential to be intimate, captivating and entertaining. The recent podcasting boom began in 2014 with “Serial,” a true crime drama that changed perceptions of how big podcasting could be. But it wasn’t profitable right away and took millions of downloads over time to get there. The question became: could podcasts similar to “Serial” be replicated on a commercial basis? It seems that they now have the potential. For example, news sources such as The New York Times and Vox are proving that there can be big money in daily news podcasting.

Continue reading Today’s Podcasts Are Finally Proving They Can Turn a Profit

Caavo to Ship Universal Remote Control With Machine Vision

Caavo is a universal TV control system that uses machine vision (which the company dubs Caavo Vision) to navigate behind the scenes of every streaming, cable and satellite box. The company, which first promised to ship units in June, now states that 5,000 units will be on sale for $399 on February 14. The company also raised another $17.5 million in venture capital, bringing the total to $32.5 million. Caavo differs from other universal remotes in that it can create a single search index and watchlist across devices and services. Continue reading Caavo to Ship Universal Remote Control With Machine Vision

Venture Reality Fund Reports on Current VR/AR Landscape

The Venture Reality Fund has released its H2 2017 VR Industry Landscape map and report. The organization has generously posted the map, along with maps of the 1H 2017 European Landscape and Q2 2017 AR Industry Landscape. The VR Fund’s latest report highlights more than 450 companies developing infrastructure, tools, platforms, and applications for the VR/AR ecosystem. An interactive table, which VR Fund co-founder Tipatat Chennavasin began building in 2014, provides details of the companies.  Continue reading Venture Reality Fund Reports on Current VR/AR Landscape

Hollywood Producer Plans Initial Coin Offering to Fund Films

Producer Christopher Woodrow (“Birdman,” “Black Mass,” “Hacksaw Ridge”) is about to launch MovieCoin, his own blockchain token, based on his certainty that the cryptocurrency will revolutionize filmmaking. Monies raised in the initial coin offering (ICO) in Q1 2018 will be used to produce a slate of films. Investors, says Woodrow, will benefit because the tokens, which can be traded, will appreciate as the film succeeds. He is currently developing projects that will include top movie stars, directors and producers. Continue reading Hollywood Producer Plans Initial Coin Offering to Fund Films

Former Uber CEO Tries to Thwart Effort to Reduce His Power

In the latest drama at the troubled Uber, former chief executive Travis Kalanick appointed two new directors — former Xerox chief executive Ursula Burns and former Merrill Lynch chief John Thain — to the board, without informing new chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi or current board members. The likely trigger for Kalanick’s action was a proposal that included reducing his voting power and increasing Khosrowshahi’s. By adding two members to the nine-member board, Kalanick attempted to gain new allies. Continue reading Former Uber CEO Tries to Thwart Effort to Reduce His Power

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