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AI is Becoming A Major Focus For Venture Capital Investors



AI is Becoming A Major Focus For Venture Capital Investors

Silicon Valley investors have gone crazy with artificial intelligence after ChatGPT’s seismic breakthrough a year ago. They’re constantly searching for the next big thing amid a sea of hype and overpromising.

With ChatGPT, which can develop computer code, write stories, draw drawings, and more with simple text inputs, OpenAI ignited a generative AI frenzy.

Venture investors have immediately doubled down on artificial intelligence (AI), a new promised land in the never-ending chase for massive tech riches, after being hurt by the failures of cryptocurrencies and other failed Silicon Valley fads in recent years.

After meeting with a number of investment fund directors, Denis Barrier, co-founder of the venture capital firm Cathay Innovation, told AFP that for the large investors, “if it’s not AI, it’s not worth it.”

“Funds are looking to make big moves,” Barrier said.

“And that’s pretty unlikely outside AI in the next few years.”

While budget cuts and layoffs became commonplace at internet companies last year, according to market tracker Crunchbase, startups in the AI space attracted close to $50 billion from investors.

During the initial phase of the AI boom, a lot of capital was allocated to businesses creating the massive language models that enable generative AI capabilities.

PitchBook reports that a record $29 billion was invested in generative AI in 2023.

“Cost lives”

However, the computational requirements of creating foundational models from scratch are quite high, and the majority of funding for this kind of work can only come from the wealthiest investors, like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Nvidia, and goes to select groups like Anthropic and OpenAI.

This week, Microsoft announced that Mistral, a burgeoning French startup creating its own models, had raised further funding from some of Silicon Valley’s wealthiest investors, including Nvidia and Andreessen Horowitz, one of the industry’s most assertive companies.

“We believe that any slowdown in AI will cost lives,” wrote the rock star venture capitalist Marc Andreessen last year in his “Techno-Optimist Manifesto.”

However, many venture capitalists have shifted their focus to more narrowly focused AI businesses that have the potential to disrupt the banking, healthcare, energy, and other industries because they are intimidated by the cost of entry.

Recently, Bioptimus, a French biotech startup using AI to develop novel medications, received funding from Cathay.

Barrier indicated in his downtown office with a view of San Francisco Bay that Cathay looked at engineering skill, data access, cost restrictions, and a goal to alter a sector while searching for promising startups.

Barrier stated, “You have to have a little faith.”

‘For real’

Last week, Loora, an Israeli firm that teaches English through generative AI, raised $12 million.

With a price tag that is comparable to a Netflix membership, over 15,000 users have downloaded Loora’s mobile applications, which teach English through conversation.

From his Tel Aviv headquarters, Loora co-founder Roy Mor told AFP that simply embracing AI is not going to attract investors.

According to him, what businesses really need is more of the appropriate data to enhance the app and user experience.

“I think the use cases where AI really brings value, where it solves problems, are not yet widespread,” he stated.

As of right now, the business sector holds the greatest promise for returns on investment, which is why a lot of startups are concentrating there.

The leader in large-scale data analysis, or the core of artificial intelligence, Alembic, recently raised $14 million.

The startup assesses marketing campaign efficacy using methods initially created to analyze health data during the coronavirus outbreak.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, the co-founder of DreamWorks and former chairman of Walt Disney Studios, founded WndrCo, a venture capital firm that is supporting Alembic.

“AI is real,” the former high-ranking Hollywood official told AFP.

“It’s not an evolution, but a revolution, a positive revolution.”


Biden, Kishida Secure Support from Amazon and Nvidia for $50 Million Joint AI Research Program



As the two countries seek to enhance cooperation around the rapidly advancing technology, President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida have enlisted Inc. and Nvidia Corp. to fund a new joint artificial intelligence research program.

A senior US official briefed reporters prior to Wednesday’s official visit at the White House, stating that the $50 million project will be a collaborative effort between Tsukuba University outside of Tokyo and the University of Washington in Seattle. A separate collaborative AI research program between Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and Tokyo’s Keio University is also being planned by the two nations.

The push for greater research into artificial intelligence comes as the Biden administration is weighing a series of new regulations designed to minimize the risks of AI technology, which has developed as a key focus for tech companies. The White House announced late last month that federal agencies have until the end of the year to determine how they will assess, test, and monitor the impact of government use of AI technology.

In addition to the university-led projects, Microsoft Corp. announced on Tuesday that it would invest $2.9 billion to expand its cloud computing and artificial intelligence infrastructure in Japan. Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, met with Kishida on Tuesday. The company released a statement announcing its intention to establish a new AI and robotics lab in Japan.

Kishida, the second-largest economy in Asia, urged American business executives to invest more in Japan’s developing technologies on Tuesday.

“Your investments will enable Japan’s economic growth — which will also be capital for more investments from Japan to the US,” Kishida said at a roundtable with business leaders in Washington.

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OnePlus and OPPO Collaborate with Google to Introduce Gemini Models for Enhanced Smartphone AI



As anticipated, original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, are heavily integrating AI into their products. Google is working with OnePlus, OPPO, and other companies to integrate Gemini models into their smartphones. They intend to introduce the Gemini models on smartphones later this year, becoming the first OEMs to do so. Gemini models will go on sale later in 2024, as announced at the Google Cloud Next 24 event. Gemini models are designed to provide users with an enhanced artificial intelligence (AI) experience on their gadgets.

Customers in China can now create AI content on-the-go with devices like the OnePlus 12 and OPPO Find X7 thanks to OnePlus and OPPO’s Generative AI models.

The AI Eraser tool was recently made available to all OnePlus customers worldwide. This AI-powered tool lets users remove unwanted objects from their photos. For OnePlus and OPPO, AI Eraser is only the beginning.

In the future, the businesses hope to add more AI-powered features like creating original social media content and summarizing news stories and audio.

AndesGPT LLM from OnePlus and OPPO powers AI Eraser. Even though the Samsung Galaxy S24 and Google Pixel 8 series already have this feature, it is still encouraging to see OnePlus and OPPO taking the initiative to include AI capabilities in their products.

OnePlus and OPPO devices will be able to provide customers with a more comprehensive and sophisticated AI experience with the release of the Gemini models. It is important to remember that OnePlus and OPPO already power the Trinity Engine, which makes using phones incredibly smooth, and use AI and computational mathematics to enhance mobile photography.

By 2024, more original equipment manufacturers should have AI capabilities on their products. This is probably going to help Google because OEMs will use Gemini as the foundation upon which to build their features.

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Meta Explores AI-Enabled Search Bar on Instagram



In an attempt to expand the user base for its generative AI-powered products, Meta is moving forward. The business is experimenting with inserting Meta AI into the Instagram search bar for both chat with AI and content discovery, in addition to testing the chatbot Meta AI with users in nations like India on WhatsApp.

When you type a query into the search bar, Meta AI initiates a direct message (DM) exchange in which you can ask questions or respond to pre-programmed prompts. Aravind Srinivas, CEO of Perplexity AI, pointed out that the prompt screen’s design is similar to the startup’s search screen.

Plus, it might make it easier for you to find fresh Instagram content. As demonstrated in a user-posted video on Threads, you can search for Reels related to a particular topic by tapping on a prompt such as “Beautiful Maui sunset Reels.”

Additionally, TechCrunch spoke with a few users who had the ability to instruct Meta AI to look for recommendations for Reels.

By using generative AI to surface new content from networks like Instagram, Meta hopes to go beyond text generation.

With TechCrunch, Meta verified the results of its Instagram AI experiment. But the company didn’t say whether or not it uses generative AI technology for search.

A Meta representative told TechCrunch, “We’re testing a range of our generative AI-powered experiences publicly in a limited capacity. They are under development in varying phases.”

There are a ton of posts available discussing Instagram search quality. It is therefore not surprising that Meta would want to enhance search through the use of generative AI.

Furthermore, Instagram should be easier to find than TikTok, according to Meta. In order to display results from Reddit and TikTok, Google unveiled a new perspectives feature last year. Instagram is developing a feature called “Visibility off Instagram” that could allow posts to appear in search engine results, according to reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi, who made this discovery earlier this week on X.

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