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Showing posts from February, 2019

SeaBubbles shows off its ‘flying’ all-electric boat in Miami

We were promised flying cars but, as it turns out, flying boats were easier to build.SeaBubbles, a “flying” boat startup that uses electric power instead of gas, hit Miami this weekend to show off one of its five prototype boats — or six, if you count an early, windowless white boat they’ve lovingly dubbed the “soapdish.” This innovative boat design combines technology from nautical industries, aviation, and intelligent software to raise the hull of the boat out of the water using foils, which helps it to consume less energy by allowing it to travel on rougher waters with reduced drag, while also keeping the passenger cabin relatively comfortable.When raised, the boat is “flying” above the water, so to speak.Founded only three years ago in Paris, the idea for SeaBubbles was dreamed up by Alain Thébault, a sailor who previously designed and piloted the Hydroptère, an experimental hydrofoil trimaran, using a similar system that lifts the boat up in order to reduce drag. That boat went o…

OpenAI built a text generator so good, it’s considered too dangerous to release

A storm is brewing over a new language model, built by non-profit artificial intelligence research company OpenAI, which it says is so good at generating convincing, well-written text that it’s worried about potential abuse.That’s angered some in the community, who have accused the company of reneging on a promise not to close off its research.OpenAI said its new natural language model, GPT-2, was trained to predict the next word in a sample of 40 gigabytes of internet text. The end result was the system generating text that “adapts to the style and content of the conditioning text,” allowing the user to “generate realistic and coherent continuations about a topic of their choosing.” The model is a vast improvement on the first version by producing longer text with greater coherence.But with every good application of the system, such as bots capable of better dialog and better speech recognition, the non-profit found several more, like generating fake news, impersonating people, or au…

VCs aren’t falling in love with dating startups

Joanna GlasnerContributor More posts by this contributorStartup names may have passed peak weirdnessWhere seed and early-stage funding is growing, contracting or holding steady Some 17 years ago, when internet dating was popular but still kind of embarrassing to talk about, I interviewed an author who was particularly bullish on the practice. Millions of people, he said, have found gratifying relationships online. Were it not for the internet, they would probably never have met.A lot of years have passed since then. Yet thanks to Joe Schwartz, an author of a 20-year-old dating advice book, “gratifying relationship” is still the term that sticks in my mind when contemplating the end-goal of internet dating tools.Gratifying is a vague term, yet also uniquely accurate. It encompasses everything from the forever love of a soul mate to the temporary fix of a one-night stand. Romantics can talk about true love. Yet when it comes to the algorithm-and-swipe-driven world of online dating, it’s a…

Please stop marking yourself safe on Facebook

Let me begin by saying that Facebook’s Crisis Response pages do a lot of good. They are a locus for donations and offers of help. But that said, for the love of humanity, when something bad happens, please stop marking yourself safe on Facebook.They don’t mean to prey on our anxieties. They mean to assuage them. But all they do is reinforce the incorrect notion that the world is a terrifying place where unpredictable awful things happen frequently; they worsen the problem by attempting to treat the symptom.Consider, for instance, “The Tornado in Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec, Canada” a few months ago. As a former Ottawa resident I have multiple Facebook friends there. Todd and Jennifer marked themselves safe; but what about Joe? Stefan? Stephane? What happened to them?Yeah, they’re fine, thanks, because that region has a population of 1.3 million, and while it is a shame that six of them were hospitalized as a result of that tornado (which hit Canada frequently) when you do the…

ClassPass, Gfycat, StreetEasy hit in latest round of mass site hacks

In just a week, a single seller put close to 750 million records from 24 hacked sites up for sale. Now, the hacker has struck again.The hacker, whose identity isn’t known, began listing user data from several major websites — including MyFitnessPal, 500px and Coffee Meets Bagel, and more recently Houzz and Roll20 — earlier this week. This weekend, the hacker added their third round of data breaches — another eight sites, amounting to another 91 million user records — on their dark web marketplace.To date, the hacker has revealed breaches at 30 companies, totaling some 841 million records.According to the latest listing, the sites include 20 million accounts from Legendas.tv, OneBip, Storybird, and Jobandtalent, as well as eight million accounts at Gfycat, 1.5 million ClassPass accounts, 60 million Pizap accounts, and another one million StreetEasy property searching accounts.In all, the hacker is selling the eight additional hacked sites for 2.6 bitcoin, or about $9,350.From the sampl…

NBA’s App-Controlled ‘Smart Jersey’ Can Change Your Player Name and Number

The NBA is taking basketball fans to the future with a cool innovation: A “smart jersey” that can change players’ names and numbers with a phone app. On Friday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver unveiled […]The post NBA’s App-Controlled ‘Smart Jersey’ Can Change Your Player Name and Number appeared first on Geek.com.

from Geek.com http://bit.ly/2SWWhqt

Vision system for autonomous vehicles watches not just where pedestrians walk, but how

The University of Michigan, well known for its efforts in self-driving car tech, has been working on an improved algorithm for predicting the movements of pedestrians that takes into account not just what they’re doing, but how they’re doing it. This body language could be critical to predicting what a person does next.Keeping an eye on pedestrians and predicting what they’re going to do is a major part of any autonomous vehicle’s vision system. Understanding that a person is present and where makes a huge difference to how the vehicle can operate — but while some companies advertise that they can see and label people at such and such a range, or under these or those conditions, few if any can or say they can see gestures and posture.WTF is computer vision? Such vision algorithms can (though nowadays are unlikely to) be as simple as identifying a human and seeing how many pixels it moves over a few frames, then extrapolating from there. But naturally human movement is a bit more comple…

How to read fiction to build a startup

“The book itself is a curious artefact, not showy in its technology but complex and extremely efficient: a really neat little device, compact, often very pleasant to look at and handle, that can last decades, even centuries. It doesn’t have to be plugged in, activated, or performed by a machine; all it needs is light, a human eye, and a human mind. It is not one of a kind, and it is not ephemeral. It lasts. It is reliable. If a book told you something when you were 15, it will tell it to you again when you’re 50, though you may understand it so differently that it seems you’re reading a whole new book.”—Ursula K. Le GuinEvery year, Bill Gates goes off-grid, leaves friends and family behind, and spends two weeks holed up in a cabin reading books. His annual reading list rivals Oprah’s Book Club as a publishing kingmaker. Not to be outdone, Mark Zuckerberg shared a reading recommendation every two weeks for a year, dubbing 2015 his “Year of Books.” Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, joined…

Visa and Mastercard could raise interchange fees

According to a report from the WSJ, Visa and Mastercard are considering raising interchange fees on card transactions in the U.S. Visa and Mastercard generate most of their revenue from these small processing fees, and it could have implications for merchants and fintech startups.When you pay with a credit or debit card, merchants pay a small fee to the bank that issued this card. Your bank then pays an even smaller fee to the company that operates the card network.In most cases, card issuers and card networks are separate companies. For instance, Chase issues a Visa card, Chase gets an interchange fee on every card transaction, and Chase pays a tiny fee to Visa. Some companies also operate a network and issue cards themselves, such as American Express.The WSJ says that Mastercard and Visa will raise their fees in April — Visa confirmed the change. While fees on each transaction are nearly unnoticeable, they add up quite rapidly. They generate a ton of revenue for Visa and Mastercard,…

Uber sues NYC to contest cap on drivers

Uber filed a lawsuit against New York City, The Verge reported. The company wants to overturn New York City’s rule that caps the number of new ride-hailing drivers. Last summer, the city approved legislation that halts the issuing of new licenses to drivers for 12 months.It has been a multi-year fight between Uber and New York City. NYC mayor Bill de Blasio has been in favor of new legislation to regulate ride-hailing companies for years. And the NYC Council finally voted in favor of such a new rule back in August 2018.Uber has had a strong stance against the new regulatory framework. Before the vote, the company even called loyal customers to ask them to call local council members and support Uber.There are a few reasons why policymakers have been in favor of the halt. First, taxi medallion holders have been suffering from the sudden market changes caused by Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing companies. The value of their licenses have dropped significanyly, which created some financi…

Transportation Weekly: Didi woes, how Nuro met Softbank, Amazon’s appetite

Welcome back to Transportation Weekly; I’m your host Kirsten Korosec, senior transportation reporter at TechCrunch. This is the second edition and seriously people, what happened this week? Too much. Too much!Never heard of TechCrunch’s Transportation Weekly? Catch up here. As I’ve written before, consider this a soft launch. Follow me on Twitter @kirstenkorosec to ensure you see it each week. (An email subscription is coming).Off we go … vroom.ONM …There are OEMs in the automotive world. And here, (wait for it) there are ONMs — original news manufacturers. (Cymbal clash!) This is where investigative reporting, enterprise pieces and analysis on transportation lives.This week, we’ve got some insider info on Didi, China’s largest ride-hailing firm. China-based TechCrunch reporter Rita Liao learned from sources that Didi plans to lay off 15 percent of its employees, or about 2,000 people this year. CEO Cheng Wei made the announcement during an internal meeting Friday morning.Read about i…

Startups Weekly: Is Y Combinator’s latest cohort too big?

Greetings from Chittorgarh, one of my stops on a two-week excursion through Goa and Rajasthan, India. I’ve been a little too busy exploring, photographing cows and monkeys and eating a lot of delicious food to keep up with *all* the tech news, but I’ve still got the highlights.For starters, if you haven’t heard yet, TechCrunch launched Extra Crunch, a paid premium subscription offering full of amazing content. As part of Extra Crunch, we’ll be doing deep dives on select businesses, beginning with Patreon. Read Patreon’s founding story here and learn how two college roommates built the world’s leading creator platform. Plus, we’ve got insights on Patreon’s product, business strategy, competitors and more.Sign up for Extra Crunch membership here.On to other news…Y Combinator’s latest batch of startups is hugeSo huge the Silicon Valley accelerator had to move locations and set up two stages at its upcoming demo days (March 18-19) to accommodate the more than 200 startups ready to pitch i…

ET Deals: Humble Great GameMaker Games Bundle

Thanks to GameMaker Studio, it's never been easier for gamedevs to make incredible 2D projects. And if you'd like to partake in some of the best games made with these handy tools, this week's Humble Bundle full of Steam games is worth checking out.The post ET Deals: Humble Great GameMaker Games Bundle appeared first on ExtremeTech.

from ExtremeTechExtremeTech http://bit.ly/2Na8DGD

Steve Jurvetson tells all: about his new $200 million fund, his new partner, his new shopping list, and more

Steve Jurvetson is staging a comeback, disclosing today that his new San Francisco-based, early-stage venture firm Future Ventures, has raised $200 million for its debut fund.“It’s good to be back in the saddle again,” says Jurvetson, whose career was somewhat famously derailed in the fall of 2017 when a former girlfriend wrote a Facebook post, accusing DFJ — the firm Jurvetson cofounded in 1985 — of “predatory behavior.” DFJ said publicly the next day that it was already investigating “indirect and secondhand allegations” about Jurvetson, and within weeks, the firm and Jurvetson seemingly had enough of each other, mutually deciding that it was time to part ways. (Jurvetson, who was recently wed for the second time, has since said he poorly handled his love interests, some of which he acknowledges were extramarital.)It was surely an embarrassing chapter for Jurvetson, who’d enjoyed a pristine reputation, but notably, he didn’t lose the support of some of his former colleagues. At the …