Bits and Bytes

Interesting tidbits from recent news:

  • Microsoft develops AI powered sketch artist. The new bot, based on recent GAN research, is capable of generating “drawings” from caption-like text descriptions. Applications for this technology include the arts, design, and perhaps at some point, police sketches. Overall very cool.
  • IBM and Salesforce announce Watson + Einstein collaboration.The two tech giants are teaming up to integrate their two eponymously named, over-marketed, poorly understood machine learning products. Oh boy! Although it’s not immediately obvious in what ways Watson and Einstein are “combining”, Salesforce and IBM are making it clear that they are prioritizing AI and fleshing out their offerings. #SnarkLevelHigh
  • Baidu grows AI research team. The new hires are Dr. Kenneth Church a pioneer in Natural Language Pioneering, Dr. Jun Huan a big data and data mining expert and Dr. Hui Xiong who specializes in data and knowledge engineering.
  • Dating services firm Lunch Actually to launch ICO for Viola.AI. The dating service aims to not only match couples but also track their relationships, suggest date venues, remind them of new dates and advise them on relationship problems. Potentially a very interesting AI application, but one with tons of potential privacy implications.
  • UC Berkeley & Facebook introduce House3D for reinforcement learning. The two teamed up to enable more robust intelligent agents by publishing a new dataset called “House3D”. House3D contains 45,622 3D scenes of houses, ranging from single-room studios to multi-storeyed houses equipped fully labeled 3D objects. In doing so, the groups aim to push RL research away towards focusing on tasks that more easily applicable to the real world.
  • App claims to predict if an image will “go viral.” ParallelDots released the app with an open API that allows user to upload images then receive a “virality” score. It’s no secret that viral sharing is the dream of many marketers, so it’ll be interesting to see if this type of service could provide beneficial insights when planning ad campaigns.
  • Amazon launched SageMaker BlazingText. BlazingText is an unsupervised learning algorithm for generating word2vec (see TT # 48) embeddings and is the latest addition to Amazon SageMaker’s suite of built-in algorithms.


Deal Flow

There seemed to be an abundance of deals last week:

  • Smartphone-maker Coolpad has raised $300 million from Chinese property mogul Chen Hua-backed Power Sun Ventures to enhance its artificial intelligence capabilities.
  •, a Karlsruhe, Germany-based machine learning startup for training and validation data in autonomous vehicles, raised $2.8 million in seed funding.
  • C3 IoT, a provider whose software offerings include AI-for-IoT tools, announced a $100 million new round of financing.
  • Data Nerds, a Canada-based developer of data products, raised $3m in Series A funding.
  • Techcyte, Inc. closed a $4.3 million funding round to commercialize its digital pathology platform.
  • Babblabs, a fresh start-up in advanced speech processing, announced today a Series Seed investment of $4 million.
  • Owkin, a NYC-based predictive analytics company that utilizes transfer learning to accelerate drug discovery and development, raised $11m in Series A funding.
  •, a year-old California-based self-driving car startup, announced it recently completed a $112 million Series A funding round.
  • Smartsheet, that builds software for corporate process management, acquires business automation chatbot startup Converse.AI.
  • Workday, the cloud HR and financials SaaS provider, buys SkipFlag to bolster machine learning capabilities.

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