machine learning

Hive raises $10.6 million to bolster project management with AI

For evidence that the future of work is automated (or at least semi-automated), look no further than startups like New York-based Hive. The productivity platform provider offers solutions from meeting scheduling to task management and project monitoring, and in an effort to lay the groundwork for expansion after quintupling revenue this past year, it’s secured fresh funding.

Hive today revealed that it’s raised $10.6 million in a series A round led by Comcast Ventures, with participation from existing seed investors Tribeca Venture Partners, Vocap Investment Partners, and Rembrandt Venture Partners. It brings the company’s total raised to $16.7 million

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AI designed this gin, but would you drink it?

Two years ago, I owned a bar with over 300 different gins — one of the largest collections of juniper-flavored spirits at any establishment in the United States. None of those gins was designed by a computer, a fact that my bartenders would likely have explained was for the best: A gin’s non-juniper botanicals are what make it distinctive, and the most popular recipes have traditionally come from experienced distillers.

But now that we’re in the AI-as-possible-gourmand era, what if a trained AI system took over the process of formulating, naming, labeling, and even marketing a new type of

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Lyft will add Chrysler Pacifica minivans to its self-driving fleet, open new road test center

Lyft is doubling down on its self-driving car efforts with this week’s announcement that it will open a second road test site. The center will be in Palo Alto, California, near its self-driving HQ — the Level 5 Engineering Center. Lyft also took the wraps off a new car that will join its autonomous fleet: a modified Chrysler Pacifica minivan equipped with cameras, radar, and lidar sensors akin to those employed by Alphabet’s Waymo.

Lyft told TechCrunch that work at the new facility will complement the GoMentum Station testing center it uses in Concord, California, enabling a larger number of

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Snapdocs raises $25 million to streamline mortgages with AI

Real estate tech company Snapdocs today revealed that it has raised $25 million in series B funding to further develop its products and platform. Coinciding with the news, the San Francisco-based company announced the opening of a new office in Denver, Colorado. Snapdocs said the new office would serve as a center for a “wide variety” of roles, with an emphasis on engineering and operations.

F-Prime Capital led this latest raise, with participation from Sequoia Capital. (Among previous backers are Y Combinator and SV Angel.) The series B brings Snapdocs’ total raised to around $45 million, following a $15 million

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Ecobee rolls out Eco+, an AI engine in your thermostat

Smart home thermostat company Ecobee today rolled out Eco+, a free suite of machine learning features, to all its thermostats with voice control. The other 1.5 million users with an Ecobee3, Ecobee3 lite, and Ecobee4 will get Eco+ starting in January 2020. Eco+ uses machine learning to tailor temperature settings and cut costs. It also helps you further reduce energy consumption and move to clean energy.

In July 2018, Ecobee kicked off a pilot called Peak Relief that aims to save energy and money by automatically heating or cooling your home when electricity is less expensive. Ecobee then expanded on

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Nest Mini vs Nest Wifi Point: What you need to know about the dedicated ML chip

At its annual hardware event last month, Google unveiled the Nest Mini as well as the Nest Wifi Router and Nest Wifi Point. The former went on sale for $49 on October 22 while the latter goes on sale today starting at $269 for a two-pack and $349 for a three-pack. Unlike their predecessors, Google Wifi and Google Home Mini respectively, these devices come with a dedicated machine learning (ML) chip.

For those who don’t care about the technical details, the equation is simple. If you need a Google Assistant speaker, get the Nest Mini. If you need a

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Microsoft debuts Azure Synapse Analytics, updates database offerings

Workflow automation was a predictable focus as Microsoft Ignite kicked off in Orlando, Florida this morning. To this end, the company took the wraps off new cloud-hosted AI, data analytics, and managed database services in preview and announced updates to existing offerings like Azure SQL Database Edge.

Azure Synapse Analytics

Perhaps the headliner is Azure Synapse Analytics, a service now in preview that leverages on-demand or provisioned resources to ingest, prepare, manage, and serve data for business intelligence and AI apps. It’s the evolution of Azure SQL Data Warehouse and pulls together insights from data warehouses and big data analytics

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Microsoft beefs up Word, Excel, and Outlook with machine learning

Microsoft’s Ignite conference starts today in Orlando, Florida, where the company is expected to announce updates across its product portfolio. More than a few were revealed this morning on the Microsoft 365 side of the business, which encompasses not only Office 365 products like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook but Yammer, OneNote, and OneDrive.

Word and Excel

Word

A preview of Ideas in Word for the web is rolling out for Office 365 commercial users. It’s an AI-powered proofreader that taps natural language processing and machine learning to deliver intelligent, contextually aware suggestions that could improve a document’s readability. For

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Modzy is a marketplace for enterprise AI software and models

Companies are trying to find the most efficient ways to use machine learning models in their businesses. Modzy, a product of Booz Allen, is designed to make that process easier and safer for enterprises. Seth Clark, senior associate at Booz Allen, described Modzy in an interview with VentureBeat as a machine learning operationalization platform. More colloquially, it’s an online store where you can find and acquire AI tools.

“What we’re trying to do is help organizations get AI capabilities out of the lab, off of someone’s laptop, and into a production system,” said Clark. “And that’s something that designers

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Watch Google’s AI teach a picker robot to assemble objects

Manipulating objects in a range of shapes isn’t machines’ forte, but it’s a useful skill for any robot tasked with navigating the physical world. To advance the state-of-the-art in this domain, researchers at Google, Stanford, and Columbia recently investigated a machine learning system dubbed Form2Fit, which aims to teach a picker robot with a suction arm the concept of assembling objects into kits.

“If robots could learn ‘how things fit together,’ then perhaps they could become more adaptable to new manipulation tasks involving objects they have never seen before, like reconnecting severed pipes, or building makeshift shelters by piecing

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