Jarvis and Stability AI achieve $1B unicorn status • The Register

Shortly Stability AI and Jasper — two startups developing AI software that automatically generates images, text, and other things — have each achieved so-called unicorn status (worth over $1 billion) after raising $101 million dollars or $125 million in funding.

Stability AI, best known for open-sourcing the code for its popular text-to-image stable diffusion model, threw a glittering party in San Francisco this week to coincide with the announcement of its funding. Emad Mostaque, the company’s founder, took the stage and announced plans to develop and release more AI tools that can process text, audio and video. Stability’s latest funding round was led by Coatue, Lightspeed Venture Partners and O’Shaughnessy Ventures LLC.

A day later, Jasper, a startup that uses OpenAI’s GPT-3 to output text and images, also announced a successful Series A round. Top investors include Coatue, Bessemer Venture Partners, IVP, Foundation Capital, Founders Circle Capital, HubSpot Ventures and more. With a text prompt, Jasper can apparently be tricked into producing a mountain of social media, optimizing blog posts, ads, and graphics for search.

“Generative AI represents a major breakthrough in creative potential, but it’s still inaccessible and intimidating to many,” CEO Dave Rogenmoser said in a statement. “Jasper works to bring AI to the masses and teach people how to use it responsibly, so businesses and individuals can better communicate their ideas. We are grateful to our investors for believing in this potential as strongly as we do.”

Funding rounds for AI startups like this are usually high because AI models are expensive to train and operate. Cloud computing is expensive. According to Business Insider, Stability’s AWS bill is more than $50 million. $20 billion OpenAI is also reportedly in talks with Microsoft to secure more funding.

Waymo Expands Self-Driving Taxi Service to LA

Residents of Los Angeles, California will soon be able to ride in Waymo’s autonomous vehicles.

The company announced that it will expand its fleet of self-driving taxis to LA after starting operations elsewhere in the US, namely in San Francisco and Phoenix. Over the next few months, Waymo’s computer-controlled cars will begin driving through “several central districts” and providing “round-the-clock” assistance to drivers.

LA is a huge market for Waymo considering about 13 million live in the metro area. The city, America’s second largest by population, is famous for its heavy traffic, and getting around often involves crossing freeways and residential streets.

“If we are to change car culture in Los Angeles, we must offer Angelenos real alternatives to owning a vehicle — including a world-class public transportation network, a range of active transportation options, and the convenience of mobility as a service throughout our city,” argued the Mayor of LA, Eric Garcetti, in a statement.

“By adding Waymo to our growing list of transportation options, we are delivering on our commitment to reducing congestion on our roads, cleaning our air and giving people a better way to get where they need to be.”

AI Bias Bounty Hunter Contest

Volunteers from Twitter, Splunk and Reality Defender have launched a bias bounty competition that challenges developers to create a model capable of accurately classifying the skin tone, gender and age of people in images. It’s a bit like a bug bounty: you’re rewarded for creating something that can be used to weed out bias in training data used by downstream models.

According to MIT Tech Review, the group calls itself the Bias Buccaneers. Participants are given a dataset of 15,000 AI-generated faces and tasked with training a model to accurately label the images.

“We’re trying to create a third space for people who are interested in this type of work, who want to start or are professionals who don’t work in tech companies,” said Rumman Chowdhury, director of Twitter’s ethics team. Transparency and Accountability in Machine Learning, Leading the Bias Buccaneers.

The competition is supported by other technology companies. Microsoft and AI biz Robust Intelligence have pledged to award $6,000 to contest winners; $4,000 and $2,000 will be awarded to second and third place winners respectively. Amazon supports applicants with cloud computing resources worth US$5,000 per applicant.

Find out more about the prize competition here.

Meta builds AI translators for spoken language

Meta researchers have developed a speech-to-speech AI translation system to translate between English and Hokkien, a Chinese dialect spoken with accents that vary by region and country.

Machine translation systems typically rely on text to translate between languages. A text-to-speech model is often used to turn the translated text into audio. What if a language is an oral language not supported by text?

“We have developed a variety of methods, e.g. “By using speech-to-unit translation to translate input speech into a sequence of acoustic sounds and generating waveforms from that, or relying on text from a related language, in this case Mandarin,” Meta explained in a report this week.

The model is slower than other types of machine translation systems; it can only translate one sentence at a time. Ten million people speak Hokkien in China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. Meta said the model is “a work in progress” and hopes to build many more models to support all kinds of languages ​​so people around the world can communicate “both in the physical world and in the metaverse.”

Geez, they had to get a metaverse reference in there. ®

https://www.theregister.com/2022/10/23/two_generative_ai_startups_javis/ Jarvis and Stability AI achieve $1B unicorn status • The Register

Rick Schindler

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