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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Why Animal Extinction Is Crippling Computer Science

Opinion: As the work of biologists and computer scientists converge, algorithmic secrets are increasingly found in nature
Source: Wired

Announcing the agenda for TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018 in Beirut

We’re excited to head to Beirut, Lebanon, on October 3rd for TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018. Yes, we’re bringing our premier startup pitch competition to the Middle East / North Africa, and as well as launching 15 of the hottest startups in MENA on stage for the first time, we’ll also be joined by some leading lights of the scene.

Tickets to this event — our first in this part of the world — cost $29 (including VAT), and you can buy your tickets right here.

Startup Battlefield consists of three preliminary rounds with 15 teams — five startups per round — who have six minutes to pitch and present a live demo to a panel of expert technologists and VC investors. After each pitch, the judges have six minutes to grill the team with tough questions. This is all after the free pitch-coaching they receive from TechCrunch editors.

One startup will emerge the winner of TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018 — and receive a US$25,000 no-equity cash prize and win a trip for two to compete in the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2019 (assuming the company still qualifies to compete at the time).

We still have a few tricks up our sleeves and will be adding some new names to the agenda over the few weeks so keep your eyes open. In the meantime, check out these agenda highlights:

Fireside Chat
With Imad Kreidieh (Ogero Telecom) and Ari Kesisoglu (Facebook)

Startup Battlefield Competition, Session 1
TechCrunch’s iconic startup competition is here and for the first time in MENA, as entrepreneurs from around the region pitch expert judges and vie for the Battlefield Cup.

Konstantinos Papamiltiadis (Facebook)
Hear from Facebook’s Director of Developer Platforms & Programs about how his team supports Facebook’s product and platform strategy through partnerships with technology companies and programs for startups.

Startup Battlefield Competition, Session 2
TechCrunch’s iconic startup competition is here and for the first time in MENA, as entrepreneurs from around the region pitch expert judges and vie for US$25,000 no-equity cash prize and a trip for two to compete in the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2019.

Lessons 10 Years On
With Omar Gabr (Instabug), Nour Al Hassan (Tarjama) and Ameer Sherif (Wuzzuf)
Ten years ago the Middle East and North Africa’s tech ecosystem was worth perhaps tens of millions of dollars. Today it’s in the hundreds of millions, and beyond. A decade ago the societal landscape was very different from today. Let’s discuss the huge changes that have happened and challenges and opportunities ahead.

Startup Battlefield Competition, Session 3
TechCrunch’s iconic startup competition is here and for the first time in MENA, as entrepreneurs from around the region pitch expert judges and vie for the Battlefield Cup.

Fireside chat
With Magnus Olsson (Careem)
How do you scale a big startup in MENA? We hear from Magnus Olson, founder and Managing Director of ride-hailing giant Careem on how they joined the unicorn club with Lyft and Uber.

Where Will the Exits Come From?
With Henri Asseily (Leap Ventures), Priscilla Elora Sharuk (Myki), and Kenza Lahlou (Outlierz Ventures)
Both VCs and startups in MENA alike are furiously building the companies of the future. But you can’t have a startup without an acquisition or IPO, so where are these going to come from? We’ll hear from both the founder and investor perspectives.

Startup Battlefield Competition – Final Round
TechCrunch’s iconic startup competition is here and for the first time in MENA, as entrepreneurs from around the region pitch expert judges and vie for the Battlefield Cup.

MENA Content Plays
with Hussam Hammo (Tamaten) and Rami Al Qawasmi (Mawdoo3)
A little-known fact about the MENA market is the sheer lack of Arabic language content online for consumers, whether it be media, music, games or events. Arabic-specific sites have appeared, tailor-made to the market. We’ll get the perspective of key entrepreneurs in this space.

Startup Battlefield Closing Awards Ceremony
Watch the crowning of the latest winner of the Startup Battlefield


Source: TechCrunch

Vezeeta, the leading MENA healthcare startup, secures $12M Series C led by STV

One of the major structural issues in the Middle East is the lack of consistent healthcare across the region. So this market was clearly waiting to be disrupted by technology.

In 2011 Vezeeta came along to change that. Launched initially in Cairo as a sort of “Uber for Ambulances”, it has since expanded to cover a wide area of the MENA population across several cities, and now provides a much wider range of health services to both patients and healthcare professionals.

By solving the ambulance problem, it reversed backwards inside the healthcare systems to provide a free of charge medical search platform for end users by integrating information about medical practices and doctors’ individual schedules. This scheduling system is provided on a paid subscription basis for medical personnel, allowing users to find a free slot in a doctor’s schedule and make appointments. And it’s gradually going well beyond that.

Vezeeta, has today announced a Series C investment of $12M led by Saudi Technology Ventures, the largest VC fund in the region. Joining the round are existing investors: BECO Capital (UAE), Vostok New Ventures (Sweden) and Silicon Badia (Jordan), along with new investor Crescent Enterprises’ CE-Ventures (UAE). Vezeeta says the financing will be used to fund its continued expansion primarily in (the increasingly more open) Saudi Arabia and for further investments in key new products.

Competition-wise Vezeeta is in a good place with only smaller players like Dabadoc in Morocco which are usually very region-locked. Vezeeta has alone succeeded in expanding across the whole region.

Amir Barsoum, founder and CEO of Vezeeta said in a statement: “We could not find a better investment team or strategic partner to help us take Vezeeta to its next stage in the region. We also welcome to our prominent investors profile, CE-Ventures, and we are proud to receive the continuous support from our current investors BECO Capital, Vostok New Ventures and Silicon Badia.”

“Upon meeting Amir and Vezeeta’s management team, it was immediately apparent to us that they are on such a mission. We believe Amir and the Vezeeta team can truly elevate the healthcare experience in the region,” said Hani Enaya, Partner at STV.

Vezeeta claims it has managed 3 million bookings in the region, served 2.5 million consumers/patients and connected more than 10,000 doctors in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.


Source: TechCrunch

The Case for Expensive Antibiotics

A rogue pharmaceutical company ramped up the cost of a common antibiotic by 400 percent. While the medical community is irate, could high prices make antibiotics worth investing in?
Source: Wired

The Best Accessories for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR

Gear up with everything you’ll want for your iPhone—from Airpods to headphone dongles.
Source: Wired

For JavaScript Developers, More Choices Mean Hard Choices

A wave of new programming tools promises to make developers’ lives easier. But the turbulence makes it hard to stay current.
Source: Wired

IBM launches cloud tool to detect AI bias and explain automated decisions

IBM has launched a software service that scans AI systems as they work in order to detect bias and provide explanations for the automated decisions being made — a degree of transparency that may be necessary for compliance purposes not just a company’s own due diligence.

The new trust and transparency system runs on the IBM cloud and works with models built from what IBM bills as a wide variety of popular machine learning frameworks and AI-build environments — including its own Watson tech, as well as Tensorflow, SparkML, AWS SageMaker, and AzureML.

It says the service can be customized to specific organizational needs via programming to take account of the “unique decision factors of any business workflow”.

The fully automated SaaS explains decision-making and detects bias in AI models at runtime — so as decisions are being made — which means it’s capturing “potentially unfair outcomes as they occur”, as IBM puts it.

It will also automatically recommend data to add to the model to help mitigate any bias that has been detected.

Explanations of AI decisions include showing which factors weighted the decision in one direction vs another; the confidence in the recommendation; and the factors behind that confidence.

IBM also says the software keeps records of the AI model’s accuracy, performance and fairness, along with the lineage of the AI systems — meaning they can be “easily traced and recalled for customer service, regulatory or compliance reasons”.

For one example on the compliance front, the EU’s GDPR privacy framework references automated decision making, and includes a right for people to be given detailed explanations of how algorithms work in certain scenarios — meaning businesses may need to be able to audit their AIs.

The IBM AI scanner tool provides a breakdown of automated decisions via visual dashboards — an approach it bills as reducing dependency on “specialized AI skills”.

However it is also intending its own professional services staff to work with businesses to use the new software service. So it will be both selling AI, ‘a fix’ for AI’s imperfections, and experts to help smooth any wrinkles when enterprises are trying to fix their AIs… Which suggests that while AI will indeed remove some jobs, automation will be busy creating other types of work.

Nor is IBM the first professional services firm to spot a business opportunity around AI bias. A few months ago Accenture outed a fairness tool for identifying and fixing unfair AIs.

So with a major push towards automation across multiple industries there also looks to be a pretty sizeable scramble to set up and sell services to patch any problems that arise as a result of increasing use of AI.

And, indeed, to encourage more businesses to feel confident about jumping in and automating more. (On that front IBM cites research it conducted which found that while 82% of enterprises are considering AI deployments, 60% fear liability issues and 63% lack the in-house talent to confidently manage the technology.)

In additional to launching its own (paid for) AI auditing tool, IBM says its research division will be open sourcing an AI bias detection and mitigation toolkit — with the aim of encouraging “global collaboration around addressing bias in AI”.

“IBM led the industry in establishing trust and transparency principles for the development of new AI technologies. It’s time to translate principles into practice,” said David Kenny, SVP of cognitive solutions at IBM, commenting in a statement. “We are giving new transparency and control to the businesses who use AI and face the most potential risk from any flawed decision making.”


Source: TechCrunch

Daimler pours millions into electric bus company Proterra

Proterra has raised $155 million in a funding round co-led by Daimler and Tao Capital Partner, a deal that could transform the school bus market in North America.

Until now, Proterra has focused on producing electric buses for municipal, federal and commercial transit agencies. The company has developed a line of electric buses that can travel 350 miles on a single charge, enough range to last entire day. Proterra has sold hundreds of its all-electric buses as cities try to reduce tailpipe emissions.

This latest investment comes with a catch: Proterra will work with Daimler to possibly electrify the company’s Thomas Built Buses division, which manufactures a line of school buses. The two companies didn’t provide a lot of detail on when electric school buses might come to market.

For now, the two companies are only committing publicly to collaborating on an electric vehicle for the school bus market. Proterra, which has two factories in the U.S., will lend its battery and drive train expertise. Daimler will show Proterra how to scale its manufacturing business even further.

Proterra raised $140 million in January 2017.  The company filed a restated certificate of Incorporation authorizing $100M in new equity funding on May 18, according to the Prime Unicorn Index.

G2VP and other technology investors also participated in this latest funding round, Proterra said.


Source: TechCrunch

State Department email data breach exposes employee data – CNET

Personal info was exposed by an unclassified email system breach.
Source: CNET

Sony’s PlayStation Classic will fit in your hand and cost you $100 – CNET

And it comes with 20 preloaded games for epic nostalgia.
Source: CNET

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