Glia raises $78 million to digitize customer service interactions

Customer service startup Glia today announced it raised $78 million. The funds will be used to expand departments across its organization, the company says, with a focus on product development and strategic acquisitions. Multimodality is fast becoming the norm in the $350 billion customer service industry.

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Hootsuite acquires Sparkcentral to unify and automate social customer service

Social media management stalwart Hootsuite has acquired Sparkcentral, a messaging app-focused customer engagement platform that offers virtual agents and automated message distribution. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition comes as more companies seek tools that will help them support customers online while working collaboratively with team members based in any number of locations.

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An AI reporter’s favorite books of 2020

The older I get, the more I wish I could stop time so I could read more books. Books that earn my time and attention are those that promise to enrich me as a person and deepen my understanding of AI. This year, I read more than a dozen books, some published in recent months and others in years past, like The Curse of Bigness by Tim Wu, a great read for anyone interested in understanding antitrust, and the novel Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler, one of my favorite books of all time.

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Fable Studio unveils two AI-based virtual beings who can talk to you

Fable Studio has announced two new conversational AI virtual beings, or artificial people. Their names are Charlie and Beck, and they will be able to hold conversations as if they were real people.
The new characters are a blend of storytelling and artificial intelligence, a marriage that Fable is pioneering in the belief that virtual beings will become a huge market as people seek companionship and entertainment during the tough climate of the pandemic.

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Facebook’s news summarization tool reeks of bad intentions

This week, BuzzFeed News, citing sources familiar with the matter, wrote that Facebook is developing an AI tool that summarizes news articles so that users don’t have to read them. The tool — codenamed “TLDR” in reference to the acronym “too long, didn’t read” — reportedly reduces articles to bullet points and provides narration, as well as a virtual assistant to answer questions.

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How Mark Kelly used conversational AI to help win a Senate seat

Conversational artificial intelligence has rapidly smartened and scaled since chatbots first entered mainstream social media in 2016. The first few iterations of chatbots on Facebook Messenger were simple, enabling restaurant reservations, flower deliveries, and other structured calls to action. Now, roughly one U.S. presidential term later, conversational experiences are increasingly intuitive.

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Facebook’s improved AI isn’t preventing harmful content from spreading

Facebook claims it’s becoming better at detecting — and removing — objectionable content from its platform, despite the fact that misleading, untrue, and otherwise harmful posts continue to make their way into millions of users’ feeds.

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AI researchers made a sarcasm detection model and it’s sooo impressive

Researchers in China say they’ve created sarcasm detection AI that achieved state-of-the-art performance on a dataset drawn from Twitter. The AI uses multimodal learning that combines text and imagery since both are often needed to understand whether a person is being sarcastic. The researchers argue that sarcasm detection can…

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Facebook’s redoubled AI efforts won’t stop the spread of harmful content

Facebook says it’s using AI to prioritize potentially problematic posts for human moderators to review as it works to more quickly remove content that violates its community guidelines. The social media giant previously leveraged machine learning models to proactively take down low-priority content and left high-priority content reported by users to human reviewers.

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How AI predictions fared against pollsters in the 2020 U.S. election

Some polls predicting results of the U.S. 2020 presidential election appear to have missed the mark. So is there a more accurate way to project election results than traditional polling?

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MIT CSAIL researchers claim their algorithm helps doctors pick the right antibiotics

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) say they’ve developed a recommendation algorithm that predicts the probability a patient’s urinary tract infection (UTI) can be treated by first- or second-line antibiotics.

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Syte raises $40 million to bring visual search to online retailers

Visual search is now a core part of countless mobile apps, from Google Lens and Bing to Pinterest and eBay. But building the underlying AI infrastructure to let people search databases and catalogs using images rather than words is a resource-intensive endeavor requiring a lot of time and technical expertise, which is where Syte comes into play.

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U.S. Congress calls for antitrust reforms to limit powers of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google

Members of Congress investigating the activity of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google say antitrust law reform is needed to safeguard democracy and “ensure that our economy remains vibrant and open in the digital age.”

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How U.S. tech policy could change if Democrats win back the Senate

Election Day in the U.S. is now only weeks away, and the variables and stakes are rapidly mounting. If Democrats succeed in taking control of the legislative and executive branches of government, the shift could end a long-standing policy gridlock. To get an idea of how Democratic control of Congress could influence tech policy…

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Synthetic media targets politics ahead of U.S. presidential election

‘Fundamentally flawed’ study describes facial recognition system designed to identify non-binary people

As the U.S. presidential election season swings into high gear, the amount of synthetic media targeting politicians is soaring. According to a new report from brand protection startup Creopoint, the number of manipulated videos shared online grew 20 times over the past year.

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Facebook gamifies data collection to boost conversational AI

Facebook once piloted a text-based fantasy role-playing game to improve the conversational models powering things like its chatbots and smart speakers. In a preprint paper, researchers at the company describe a game that iterates between collecting data and retraining models on the collected data, with a metric that evaluates and compares models using players’ continuation rates (i.e., how long they keep playing).

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Antitrust experts weigh in on breaking up Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google

Gary Reback is perhaps best known as the lawyer who helped convince the U.S. Department of Justice to bring an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft in the 1990s.

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