All posts in “Artificial Intelligence”

Network with CrunchMatch at TC Sessions: Enterprise 2019

Ready to tackle the colossus that is enterprise software? Join us and more than 1,000 attendees for TC Sessions Enterprise 2019 on September 5 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. We’re talking founders, technologists and investors digging deep into the challenges facing established and emerging enterprise companies today. Get your early-bird tickets now and save.

TechCrunch’s first ever event focused on Enterprise is a prime networking opportunity that will feature a crowd drawn to a day of intensive, on-stage interviews (led by TechCrunch editors) with the king pins of enterprise as well as breakout sessions, exhibiting startups, receptions and much more.  Naturally, we have a fantastic networking app to help attendees wring the most opportunity out of the show.

CrunchMatch (powered by Brella), is TechCrunch’s free business match-making service. Effective networking is more than just meeting people. CrunchMatch helps you search for the right people based on specific mutual criteria, goals and interests. The platform’s combination of curation and automation lets you easily find, vet, schedule and connect with the people you want to meet — founders, investors, technologists, researchers or MBA students. You decide, and CrunchMatch delivers.

CrunchMatch is available to all attendees. When the platform launches, keep an eye out for an email with a sign-up link. Fill out your profile with the pertinent details — your role (technologist, founder, investor, etc.) and who you want to connect with at the event. CrunchMatch will make meet-up suggestions, which you can approve or decline.

Now that you’re up to speed on the networking situation, all you need to do is buy a ticket to TC Sessions: EnterpriseEarly-bird passes cost $395, and you can save an extra 15 percent when you buy group tickets (four or more) for $335 each. Student passes sell for $245. Bonus: for every TC Sessions: Enterprise ticket you buy, we’ll register you for one free Expo Only pass to Disrupt San Francisco 2019. Holla!

There are a limited number of Startup Demo Packages available for $2,000, which includes four tickets to attend the event.

TC Sessions: Enterprise takes place on September 5 in San Francisco. Join your community of enterprise-minded founders, investors, CTOs, CIOs and engineers to talk machine learning, AI, intelligent marketing automation, the cloud, quantum computing, blockchain and so much more. Buy your early-bird tickets now.

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Bright Machines wants to put AI-driven automation in every factory

There’s a mythology around today’s factories that says everything is automated by robotics, and while there is some truth to that, it’s hard to bring that level of sophistication to every facility, especially those producing relatively small runs. Today, Bright Machines, a San Francisco startup announced its first product designed to put intelligence and automation in reach of every manufacturer, regardless of its size.

The startup, which emerged last fall with $179 million in Series A funding, has a mission to make every aspect of manufacturing run in a software-defined automated fashion. Company CEO Amar Hanspal understands it’s a challenging goal, and today’s announcement is about delivering version 1.0 of that vision.

“We have this ambitious idea to fundamentally change the way factories operate, and what we are all about is to get to autonomous programmable factories,” he said. To start on that journey, since getting its initial funding in October, the company has been building a team that includes manufacturing, software and artificial intelligence expertise. It brought in people from Autodesk, Amazon and Google and opened offices in Seattle and Tel Aviv.

The product it is releasing today is called the Software Defined Microfactory and it consists of hardware and software components that work in tandem. “What the Software Defined Microfactory does is package together robotics, computer vision, machine handling and converged systems in a modular way with hardware that you can plug and play, then the software comes in to instruct the factory on what to build and how to build it,” Hanspal explained.

Obviously, this is not an easy thing to do, and it’s taken a great deal of expertise to pull it together over the last months since the funding. It’s also required having testing partners. “We have about 20 product brands around the world and about 25 production lines in seven countries that have been iterating with us toward version one, what we are releasing today,” Hanspal said.

The company is concentrating on the assembly line for starters, especially when building smaller runs like say a specialized computer board or a network appliance where the manufacturer might produce just 50,000 in total, and could benefit from automation, but couldn’t justify the cost before.

“The idea here is going after the least automated part inside of factory, which is the assembly line, which is typically where people have to throw bodies at the problem and assembly lines have been hard to automate. The operations around assembly typically require human dexterity and judgment, trying to align things or plug things in,” Hanspal said.

The hope is to create a series of templates for different kinds of tooling, where they can get the majority of the way there with the software and robotics, and eventually just have to work on the more customized bits. It is an ambitious goal, and it’s not going to be easy to pull off, but today’s release is a first step.

AI consulting startup Hypergiant brings on Bill Nye as an advisor

Hypergiant, a startup launched last year to address the execution gap in bringing applied AI and machine learning technologies to bear for large companies, has signed on a high-profile new advisor to help out with the new ‘Galactic Systems’ division of its services lineup.

Hypergiant founder CEO Ben Lamm also serves as an Advisory Council Member for The Planetary Society, the nonprofit dedicated to space science and exploration advocacy that’s led by Nye who acts as the Society’s CEO. Nye did some voiceover work for the video at the bottom of this post for Hypergiant through the connection, and then decided to come on in a more formal capacity as an official advisor working with the company. He’ll act as a member of Hypergiant’s Advisory Board.

Nye was specifically interested in helping Hypergiant to work on AI tech that touch on a couple of areas he’s most passionate about.

“Hypergiant has an ambitious mission to address some big problems using artificial intelligence systems,” Nye explained via email. “I’m looking forward to working with Hypergiant to develop artificially intelligent systems in two areas I care about a great deal: climate change and space exploration. We need to think big, and I’m very optimistic about what AI can do to make the world quite a bit better.”

Through its work, Hypergiant has an impact on projects in flight from high-profile customers including Apple, GE, Starbucks and the Department of Homeland Security to name just a few. Earlier this year, Austin-based Hypergiant announced it was launching a dedicated space division through the acquisition of Satellite & Extraterrestrial Operations & Procedures (SEOPS), a Texas company that offered deployment services for small satellites.

Ben Lamm NASA 2

Hypergiant founder and CEO Ben Lamm along with members of the Hypergiant team at NASA. Credit: Hypergiant.

Nye’s role will focus on this division, advising on space, but also equally on advising clients as to climate change in order to ensure that Hypergiant can “make the most of AI systems to hep provide a high quality of life for people everywhere,” Nye wrote.

“Climate change is the biggest issue we face, and we need to get serious about new ways to fight it,” he explained in an email, noting that the potential impact his work with Hypergiant will have in this area specifically is a key reason he’s excited to undertake the new role.

[embedded content]

A Better World from HYPERGIANT on Vimeo.

At last, a camera app that automatically removes all people from your photos

As a misanthrope living in a vibrant city, I’m never short of things to complain about. And in particular the problem of people crowding into my photos, whatever I happen to shoot, is a persistent one. That won’t be an issue any more with Bye Bye Camera, an app that simply removes any humans from photos you take. Finally!

It’s an art project, though a practical one (art can be practical!), by Do Something Good. The collective, in particular the artist damjanski, has worked on a variety of playful takes on the digital era, such as a CAPTCHA that excludes humans, and setting up a dialogue between two Google conversational agents.

The new app, damjanski told Artnome, is “an app for the post-human era… The app takes out the vanity of any selfie and also the person.” Fortunately, it leaves dogs intact.

Of course it’s all done in a self-conscious, arty way — are humans necessary? What defines one? What will the world be like without us? You can ponder those questions or not; fortunately, the app doesn’t require it of you.

Bye Bye Camera works using some of the AI tools that are already out there for the taking in the world of research. It uses YOLO (You Only Look Once), a very efficient object classifier that can quickly denote the outline of a person, and then a separate tool that performs what Adobe has called “context-aware fill.” Between the two of them a person is reliably — if a bit crudely — deleted from any picture you take and credibly filled in by background.

It’s a fun project (though the results are a mixed bag) and it speaks not only to the issues it supposedly raises about the nature of humanity, but also the accessibility of tools under the broad category of “AI” and what they can and should be used for.

You can download Bye Bye Camera for $3 on the iOS App Store.

Facebook adds new limits to address the spread of hate speech in Sri Lanka and Myanmar

As Facebook grapples with the spread of hate speech on its platform, it is introducing changes that limit the spread of messages in two countries where it has come under fire in recent years: Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

In a blog post on Thursday evening, Facebook said that it was “adding friction” to message forwarding for Messenger users in Sri Lanka so that people could only share a particular message a certain number of times. The limit is currently set to five people.

This is similar to a limit that Facebook introduced to WhatsApp last year. In India, a user can forward a message to only five other people on WhatsApp . In other markets, the limit kicks in at 20. Facebook said some users had also requested this feature because they are sick of receiving chain messages.

In early March, Sri Lanka grappled with mob violence directed at its Muslim minority. In the midst of it, hate speech and rumors started to spread like wildfire on social media services, including those operated by Facebook. The government in the country then briefly shut down citizen’s access to social media services.

In Myanmar, social media platforms have faced a similar, long-lasting challenge. Facebook, in particular, has been blamed for allowing hate speech to spread that stoked violence against the Rohingya ethnic group. Critics have claimed that the company’s efforts in the country, where did does not have a local office or employees, are simply not enough.

In its blog post, Facebook said it has started to reduce the distribution of content from people in Myanmar who have consistently violated its community standards with previous posts. Facebook said it will use learnings to explore expanding this approach to other markets in the future.

“By limiting visibility in this way, we hope to mitigate against the risk of offline harm and violence,” Facebook’s Samidh Chakrabarti, director of product management and civic integrity, and Rosa Birch, director of strategic response, wrote in the blog post.

In cases where it identifies individuals or organizations “more directly promote or engage violence”, the company said it would ban those accounts. Facebook is also extending the use of AI to recognize posts that may contain graphic violence and comments that are “potentially violent or dehumanizing.”

The social network has, in the past, banned armed groups and accounts run by the military in Myanmar, but it has been criticized for reacting slowly and, also, for promoting a false narrative that suggested its AI systems handle the work.

Last month, Facebook said it was able to detect 65% of the hate speech content that it proactively removed (relying on users’ reporting for the rest), up from 24% just over a year ago. In the quarter that ended in March this year, Facebook said it had taken down 4 million hate speech posts.

Facebook continues to face similar challenges in other markets, including India, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Following a riot last month, Indonesia restricted the usage of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp in an attempt to contain the flow of false information.