Band of AI startups launch ‘rebel alliance’ for interoperability

Server stack

The AI Infrastructure Alliance wants to improve interoperability between tools and frameworks made by small to medium-size AI startups. More than 20 AI startups have banded together to create the AI Infrastructure Alliance in order to build a software and hardware stack for machine learning and adopt common standards.

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Recogni raises $48.9 million for AI-powered perception chips

Prism Chip

Recogni, a startup designing an AI-powered vision recognition module for autonomous vehicles, today announced it raised $48.9 million. The company says the funds will help it bring its perception product to market while expanding the size of its engineering and go-to-market teams.

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IBM’s Arin Bhowmick explains why AI trust is hard to achieve in the enterprise

IBM AI Trust

While appreciation of the potential impact AI can have on business processes has been building for some time, progress has not nearly been as quick as many initial forecasts led many organizations to expect.
Arin Bhowmick, chief design officer for IBM, explained to VentureBeat what needs to be done to achieve the level of AI explainability that will be required to take AI to the next level in the enterprise.

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Exploring AWS SageMaker’s new features — Clarify, Pipelines, Feature Store

Feature store comparison

Welcome to part 2 of our two-part series on AWS SageMaker. If you haven’t read part 1, hop over and do that first. Otherwise, let’s dive in and look at some important new SageMaker features:
Clarify, which claims to “detect bias in ML models” and to aid in model interpretability
SageMaker Pipelines, which help automate and organize the flow of ML pipelines
Feature Store, a tool for storing, retrieving, editing, and sharing purpose-built features for ML workflows.
Clarify: debiasing AI needs a human element

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Exploring AWS SageMaker’s new features — Formation Stacks, Data Wrangler

2020 data landscape

The data tooling and infrastructure space is growing rapidly, and this trend is showing no signs of slowing down. Behemoth data storage firm Snowflake IPOed late last year and became more valuable than IBM, and Databricks recently raised a $1 billion Series G with a $28 billion post-money valuation, to name two examples. The long tail of the data tools space is becoming increasingly crowded, as evidenced by Matt Turck’s 2020 Data & AI Landscape (just look at the image below).

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CYE raises $120 million for security that uses hackers and AI

Cye five men standing

The soaring number of cyberattacks in recent years has propelled a massive expansion of potential solutions as startups and incumbent security providers jostle to address the market opportunity. But Tel Aviv-based CYE believes it has developed a way to cut through that clutter with a solution that uses artificial intelligence to probe for technical weaknesses and human hackers to test a company’s overall security resilience.

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Lusha raises $40 million to surface sales lead contact info in your browser

Lusha platform

Lusha, a Tel Aviv-based startup developing a crowdsourced data community for business-to-business salespeople, today announced it has raised $40 million. The company plans to use the funds to further grow its sales platform as it looks to invest in R&D.

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Apple’s self-driving car strategy may be stuck in neutral

KIA Motors factory

After weeks of confusion and contradictory news, it has almost become confirmed that Hyundai-Kia will start manufacturing Apple’s mysterious self-driving electric vehicle at one of its factories in 2024. Or later. Or not at all.
As is with nearly all news coming from Apple, the report is shrouded in secrecy, unconfirmed facts, and lots of quotes from anonymous sources. But this latest news does have some key points that, if true, paint a clearer picture about Apple’s self-driving plans — and leave many more questions unanswered about the future of the company.

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Kong raises $100 million for software that scales cloud infrastructure

As APIs and microservices become critical tools to drive innovation and automation for a wider range of companies, they are also creating new management challenges. Enterprises are attracted by their potential to create greater flexibility but must find ways to coordinate these cloud-based services. Kong, one of the new breed of companies trying to address this problem…

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Microsoft details Speller100, an AI system that checks spelling in over 100 languages


In a post on its AI research blog, Microsoft today detailed a new language system, Speller100, that the company claims is one of the most comprehensive ever made in terms of language coverage and accuracy. Comprising a number of AI models that can understand speech in over 100 languages collectively, Speller100 now powers all spelling correction on Bing.

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Monte Carlo raises $25 million for AI that monitors data reliability

San Francisco-based data reliability startup Monte Carlo today announced that it raised $25 million, bringing the company’s total capital raised to date to over $40 million. Monte Carlo says the proceeds will allow it to foster its community of users and further develop its data and analytics products as it looks to expand the size of its workforce.
It’s estimated that the average company spends upwards of $15 million annually tackling periods of time where data is missing, broken, or otherwise inaccurate.

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Why process mining is seeing triple-digit growth

Process mining

A rise in technologies like AI and robotic process automation (RPA) has increased demand for process mining tools. And more recently, an enterprise spurt in technology investment to respond to the pandemic has accelerated that demand. Gartner estimated the market for dedicated process mining tools grew between from $110 million in 2018 to $320 million in 2019.

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Microsoft launches Custom Neural Voice in limited access

Microsoft today announced the general availability of Custom Neural Voice, an Azure Cognitive Services product that lets developers create synthetic voices with neural text-to-speech technology. It’s in limited access, meaning customers must apply and be approved by Microsoft, but it’s ready for production and available in most Azure cloud regions.

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RPA startup UiPath raises $750 million

UiPath $750m raise

Robotic process automation (RPA) startup UiPath today announced that it raised $750 million in series F funding, bringing its total raised to nearly $2 billion. It brings the New York-based company’s post-money valuation to $35 billion, up from $3 billion in 2018, and will likely lay the groundwork for strategic acquisitions following UiPath’s purchase of startups StepShot and ProcessGold.

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Databricks raises $1 billion funding round at $28 billion valuation

Databricks logo stacked

Databricks today announced the close of a $1 billion funding round, bringing the company’s valuation to $28 billion after post-money valuation, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat. News of the funding round — the largest to-date for Databricks — was first reported in late January by Newcomer.

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Weights and Biases raises $45 million to advance MLOps governance

Weights and Biases, provider of a platform for enabling collaboration and governance across teams building machine learning models, today revealed it has raised a $45 million series B round led by Insight Partners. The company provides a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform designed to make it easier for AI teams to first reproduce results and then ultimately explain how an AI model actually works, Weights and Biases CEO Lukas Biewald said.

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Here’s where AI will advance in 2021

Artificial intelligence continues to advance at a rapid pace. Even in 2020, a year that did not lack compelling news, AI advances commanded mainstream attention on multiple occasions. OpenAI’s GPT-3, in particular, showed new and surprising ways we may soon be seeing AI penetrate daily life. Such rapid progress makes prediction about the future of AI somewhat difficult, but some areas do seem ripe for breakthroughs. Here are a few areas in AI that we feel particularly optimistic about in 2021.

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Physna raises $20 million for AI that analyzes and digitizes 3D objects

Jet engine wireframe

Physna, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based startup developing an AI-powered 3D modeling platform for industrial engineering, today announced that it raised $20 million. The company says the funds will be used to grow its team and increase development as new customers sign on.

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Lynk raises $24 million to bring knowledge-as-a-service platform to more industries

Woman sitting and smiling

Lynk, a “knowledge-as-a-service” platform that connects domain-specific experts with businesses, has raised $24 million to fuel expansion in the U.S.
While there are myriad platforms and tools that unlock insights from vast swathes of data, Lynk offers an AI-powered engine that indexes “knowledge domains” and vetted experts to find answers to questions businesses are asking.

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