The AI in your non-autonomous car

Sorry. Your next car probably won’t be autonomous. But, it will still have artificial intelligence (AI). While most of the attention has been on advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving, AI will penetrate far deeper into the car. These overlooked areas offer fertile ground for incumbents and startups alike. Where is the fertile ground for these features? And where is the opportunity for startups?

Inside the cabin

Inward-facing AI cameras can be used to prevent accidents before they occur. These are currently widely deployed in commercial vehicles and trucks to monitor drivers to detect inebriation, distraction, drowsiness and fatigue to alert the driver. ADAS, inward-facing cameras and coaching have shown to drastically decrease insurance costs for commercial vehicle fleets. The same technology is beginning to penetrate personal vehicles to monitor driver-related behavior for safety purposes. AI-powered cameras also can identify when children and pets are left in the
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Navigating the risks of artificial intelligence and machine learning in low-income countries

On a recent work trip, I found myself in a swanky-but-still-hip office of a private tech firm. I was drinking a freshly frothed cappuccino, eyeing a mini-fridge stocked with local beer, and standing amidst a group of hoodie-clad software developers typing away diligently at their laptops against a backdrop of Star Wars and xkcd comic wallpaper.

I wasn’t in Silicon Valley: I was in Johannesburg, South Africa, meeting with a firm that is designing machine learning (ML) tools for a local project backed by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Around the world, tech startups are partnering with NGOs to bring machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to bear on problems that the international aid sector has wrestled with for decades. ML is uncovering new

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How [and why] I invest in startups

A lot of people ask me how I choose to invest in startups. Stage? Revenue metrics? Sector? I’m not proactively funding at different stages. I’m proactively funding brilliant people trying to solve hard problems. Focusing on this simple goal of identifying and enabling amazing entrepreneurs to create a better tomorrow is the crux of my investment strategy.

My startup investment “formula”

A lot of venture funds try to optimize for returns. They run complex ratio economic models to determine what their diluted value will be at the end of the life cycle of the optimal and non-optimal case of every given company. I don’t do that. I just try to fund the best and brightest. I love working with the smartest and brightest people in the world on some of
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Gaming monitors, headsets and peripherals for a winning desktop setup

Editor’s note: This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and TechCrunch earn affiliate commissions. New and serious gamers know that it takes a significant amount of time sharpen skills, and to strategize ways to capture high scores. Staying ahead of player 2 is easier when you have the right gaming peripherals. A monitor with a crisp display, a responsive gaming mouse, a comfortable headset—or all of these items combined—are what you need to take your PC gaming experience to the next level. We can’t promise that new equipment will keep you at the top of the board, but the best gear with accommodating features is essential to a great setup, and to helping you try.
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The birth of the Universal Digital Profile

It is a well-known fact that Europeans are generally more concerned about privacy than some other countries. Indeed, we’ve had a history of major privacy breaches that had such catastrophic consequences that it is now part of our culture that personal data should be treated as highly sensitive — something the U.S. is now catching up to in the wake of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal. The culmination of this is the new EU-wide privacy regulation, the GDPR, which will come into effect on May 25, 2018, and was a hot topic during the recent Zuckerberg testimony.

One key article is the right to personal data portability. In a nutshell, it states that users of a service can request their personal data to be transferred to another provider, without hindrance (read: in the format the other provider requests). This means that if you are no longer happy using

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Are algorithms hacking our thoughts?

As Facebook shapes our access to information, Twitter dictates public opinion, and Tinder influences our dating decisions, the algorithms we’ve developed to help us navigate choice are now actively driving every aspect of our lives.

But as we increasingly rely on them for everything from how we seek out news to how we relate to the people around us, have we automated the way we

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A simple solution to end the encryption debate

Criminals and terrorists, like millions of others, rely on smartphone encryption to protect the information on their mobile devices. But unlike most of us, the data on their phones could endanger lives and pose a great threat to national security.

The challenge for law enforcement, and for us as a society, is how to reconcile the advantages of gaining access to the plans of dangerous individuals with the cost of opening a door to the lives of everyone else. It is the modern manifestation of the age-old conflict between privacy versus security, playing out in our pockets and palms.

One-size-fits all technological solutions, like a manufacturer-built universal backdoor tool for smartphones, likely create

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Shared housing startups are taking off

When young adults leave the parental nest, they often follow a predictable pattern. First, move in with roommates. Then graduate to a single or couple’s pad. After that comes the big purchase of a single-family home. A lawnmower might be next. Looking at the new home construction industry, one would have good reason to presume those norms were holding steady. About two-thirds of new homes being built in the U.S. this year are single-family dwellings, complete with tidy yards and plentiful parking. In startup-land, however, the presumptions about where housing demand is going looks a bit different. Home sharing is on the rise, along with more temporary lease options, high-touch service and smaller spaces in sought-after urban locations.

Seeking roommates and venture capital

Crunchbase News analysis of residential-focused real estate startups uncovered a raft of companies with a shared and temporary housing focus that have raised funding in
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For Apple, this year’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day is all about education

Following Apple’s education event in Chicago in March, I wrote about what the company’s announcements might mean for accessibility. After sitting in the audience covering the event, the big takeaway I had was Apple could “make serious inroads in furthering special education as well.” As I wrote, despite how well-designed the Classroom and Schoolwork apps seemingly are, Apple should do more to tailor their new tools to better serve students and educators in special education settings. After all, accessibility and special education are inextricably tied. It turns out, Apple has, unsurprisingly, considered this. “In many ways, education and accessibility beautifully overlap,” Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s Senior Director of Global
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Technology innovation on the second half of the chessboard

EarthNow recently announced a $1 billion investment, perhaps the largest-ever Series A financing round, to build a global constellation of satellites. Ant Financial announced plans to raise $9 billion at an expected $150 billion valuation, making it the most highly valued privately held company. Last year, SoftBank embarked on a $100 billion investment fund, 30 times larger than any prior venture fund. The venture industry is scrambling to respond. Several established funds, including Sequoia, Khosla, Norwest and Battery, have recently announced by far their largest funds raised to date. Valuations and round sizes have doubled on average in the past five years. The speed and magnitude with which technology innovation is moving is mind-boggling, even for those of us who have worked at the center of it for decades. Staid industries for which technology seemed irrelevant are transforming themselves or being disrupted by the Connected World, innovation made
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Food delivery’s untapped opportunity

Investors may have already placed their orders in the consumer food delivery space, but there’s still a missing recipe for solving the over $250 billion business-to-business foodservice distribution problem that’s begging for venture firms to put more cooks in the kitchen.  Stock prices for Sysco and US Foods, the two largest food distributors, are up by over 20% since last summer when Amazon bought Whole Foods. But, these companies haven’t made any material changes to their business model to counteract the threat of Amazon. I know a thing or two about the food services industry and the need for a B2B marketplace in an industry ripe with all of our favorite buzz words: fragmentation, last mile logistics and a lack of pricing transparency.

The business-to-business food
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Society needs the Artificial Intelligence Data Protection Act now

On December 31, 2015, I published my original call to arms for society’s rational regulation of artificial intelligence before it is too late. I explained certain reasons why someone who is against solving problems through regulation would propose precisely that mechanism to help hedge the threats created by AI, and announced my proposed legislation: The Artificial Intelligence Data Protection Act (AIDPA).

Since 2015, we have witnessed AI’s rapidly evolving national and international growth and adoption that will soon impact every phase of mankind’s life, from birth to death, sex to religion, politics to war, education to emotion, jobs to unemployment.

Three of many recent developments confirm why now is the time for the AIDPA: (1) a McKinsey study from late 2017 determined that up to 800 million workers worldwide may lose their jobs to AI by 2030, half of contemporary work functions could be automated by 2055 and other recent studies suggest

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Broadening education investments to full-stack solutions

As an education investor, one of my favorite sayings is that education is the next industry to be disrupted by technology, and has been for the past twenty years. When I started my career at Warburg Pincus, I inherited a portfolio of technology companies that senior partners naively believed would solve major problems in our education system. It would have worked out fine, of course, except for all the people. Teachers weren’t always interested in changing the way they taught. IT staff weren’t always capable of implementing new technologies. And schools weren’t always 100% rational in their purchasing decisions. And so while, given the size of the market, projections inexorably led to $100M companies, sales cycles stretched asymptotically and deals never seemed to close, particularly
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Looking for a better exit? Get out of the game early

VC investing is a game of putting money into a company and hopefully getting more out. In an ideal world, the value placed on a company at acquisition or initial public offering would be some large multiple of the amount of money its investors committed. As it happens, that multiple on invested capital (MOIC) makes for a fairly decent heuristic for measuring company and investor performance. Most critically, it provides a handy metric to use for answering these questions: For US-based companies, have exit multiples changed in a meaningful way over time? And, if so, does this suggest something about the investment landscape overall? Coming up with an answer to this question required a specific
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The UK and USA need to extend their “special relationship” to technology development

The UK and the USA have always had an enduring bond, with diplomatic, cultural and economic ties that have remained firm for centuries.

We live in an era of profound change, and are living with technologies set to change things ever faster. If Britain and America work together to develop these technologies for the good of mankind, in a way that is open and free, yet also safe and good for our citizens, we can maintain the global lead our nations have enjoyed in the fields of innovation.

Over past months we have seen some very significant strides forward in this business relationship. All of the biggest US companies have made decisions to invest in the UK. Apple is developing a new HQ in the

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These schools graduate the most funded startup CEOs

There is no degree required to be a CEO of a venture-backed company. But it likely helps to graduate from Harvard, Stanford or one of about a dozen other prominent universities that churn out a high number of top startup executives. That is the central conclusion from our latest graduation season data crunch. For this exercise, Crunchbase News took a look at top U.S. university affiliations for CEOs of startups that raised $1 million or more in the past year. In many ways, the findings weren’t too different from what we unearthed almost a year ago, looking at the university backgrounds of funded startup founders. However, there were a few twists. Here are some key findings: Harvard fares better in its rivalry with Stanford when it
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Deep learning with synthetic data will democratize the tech industry

The visual data sets of images and videos amassed by the most powerful tech companies have been a competitive advantage, a moat that keeps the advances of machine learning out of reach from many. This advantage will be overturned by the advent of synthetic data.

The world’s most valuable technology companies, such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Baidu, among others, are applying computer vision and artificial intelligence to train their computers. They harvest immense visual data sets of images, videos and other visual data from their consumers.

These data sets have been a competitive advantage for major tech companies, keeping out of reach from many the advances of machine learning and the processes that allow computers and algorithms to learn faster.

Now, this advantage is being disrupted by the ability for anyone to create and leverage synthetic data to train computers across many use cases, including retail, robotics, autonomous vehicles,

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Algo-Rhythms: The future of album collaboration

One year ago, I began working on an album. I write vocal melodies and lyrics, while my partner does the composition. We both work on instrumentation, and complement each other well. The only odd part of the relationship is…my partner isn’t human. It’s AI. The relationship was born out of curiosity. Fear-driven headlines had been dominating my news feed for some time….headlines like: AI will take our jobs, our data, and eventually, our souls. The arguments left me wondering. What’s really happening with AI? I stumbled across an article chronicling how AI was now being
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The many twists and turns of hardware

Note: This is the final article in a three-part series on valuation thoughts for common sectors of venture-capital investment. The first article, which attempts to make sense of the SaaS revenue multiple, can be found here; the second, on public marketplaces can be found here.

Over the past year, the VC-backed hardware category got a big boost — Roku was the best-performing tech IPO of 2017 and Ring was acquired by Amazon for a price rumored to exceed $1 billion. In addition to selling into large, strategic markets, both companies have excellent business models. Ring sells a high-margin subscription across a high percentage of its customer base and Roku successfully monetizes its 19 million users through ads and licensing fees.

In the context of these splashy exits, it is interesting to consider the key factors that have made for valuable hardware companies against a backdrop of an investment sector that has

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Tech devices that make for great last-minute gifts for anyone

Editor’s note: This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. It should be easy to give a gift. But it can be hard trying to choose what gift to give. That’s especially true with technology, where products tend to be more functional than emotional. Here’s what matters most: finding a present that connects to the recipient, creates a sense of enjoyment, and that they’re actually going to use. Here are five tech gifts that will appeal to almost anyone. Jaybird X3 Wireless Sport Earbuds The Jaybird X3 earbuds are designed for working out, but their design and great audio makes them perfect for anyone on the go. The X3’s interchangeable tips and fins offer a highly customizable, comfortable fit.
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