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Tag Archives: images

Ford is betting big on Detroit

The Ford Motor Company now owns one of Detroit’s iconic buildings in the Michigan Central Station. The monumental building looms over Detroit’s oldest neighborhood. It’s long been a symbol of Detroit’s decay, and now it could become the symbol of Detroit’s revival, and Ford’s along with it. The building is set to become the anchor of Ford’s 1.2 million-square-foot campus in the Detroit neighborhood. The Michigan Central Station will house more than just Ford employees, though. The auto company says it will be a mixed-use facility with facilities for up to 5,000 office workers and space for shops, restaurants and maybe even residential housing. Ford has a substantial undertaking before employees and businesses move into the building. The Michigan Central Station is nearly literally a shell of its former self. The station was built in 1913 by the same firm responsible for New York’s Grand Central Terminal. In its day, the 21-story building stood proudly with marble floors under an arched 65-foot ceiling.

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Blockchain technology could be the great equalizer for American cities

Brooks Rainwater Contributor Brooks Rainwater is the director of the Center for City Solutions and Applied Research at the National League of Cities . More posts by this contributor Do cities still want a sharing economy? As tech startups surge in cities, inclusive economic growth must be a priority The city of  Austin  is currently piloting a program in which its 2,000 homeless residents will be given a unique identifier that’s safely and securely recorded on the blockchain. This identifier will help individuals consolidate their records and seek out crucial services. Service providers will also be able to access the information. If successful, we’ll have a new, more efficient way to communicate and ensure that the right people are at the table to help the homeless. in Austin and around the country, it seems that blockchain technology is opening a range of opportunities for city service delivery and operations. At its core, blockchain is a secure, inalterable electronic register. Serving as a shared  database  or distributed ledger, it is located permanently online for anything represented digitally, such as rights, goods and property. Through enhanced trust, consensus and autonomy, blockchain brings widespread decentralization to transactions. At the municipal level, blockchain has the potential to create countless smart networks and grids, altering how we do everything from vote and build credit to receive energy. In many ways, it could be a crucial component of what is needed to circumvent outdated systems and build long-lasting solutions for cities. AUSTIN, TX – APRIL 14: A homeless man stands outside in front of a colorful wall mural at the Flat Track Coffee Shop on Cesar Chavez Blvd on April 14, 2017, in Austin, Texas

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Dank learning system autogenerates memes

We all know that in the near future humanity will come to a crossroads. With 99% of the world’s population currently tasked with creating memes and/or dank memes, what will happen when computers get better at it than humans? Researchers may have just found out. Using machine learning, a pair of Stanford researchers, Abel L. Peirson V and E. Meltem Tolunay, have created a system that automatically generates memes including the ones visible above. Their system, they’ve discovered “produces original memes that cannot on the whole be differentiated from real ones.” You can read the report here . The system uses a pre-trained Inception-v3 network using the long short-term memory model to produce captions that are applicable to a particular picture. Humans then assess the humor of the meme, rewarding the system for true LOLs. The researchers trained the network with “400.000 image, label and caption triplets with 2600 unique image-label pairs” including funny memes generated by actual humans. The system then recreates memes in a similar vein. Does it work?

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Africa Roundup: African startup investments turn to fintech this winter season

Jake Bright Contributor Jake Bright is a writer and author in New York City. He is co-author of The Next Africa . More posts by this contributor Nigeria’s Piggybank.ng raises $1.1M, announces group investment product Africa Roundup: Safaricom unveils Bonga, Africa’s Talking gets $8.6M, TechCrunch visits Nigeria, Ghana Forty-seven and a half million dollars is a big commitment to African technology companies — even with the recent uptick in VC investment on the continent. But for the Kenyan-based fintech firm  Cellulant , whose digital payments platform processed 7 million transactions worth $350 million across 33 African countries in the last month alone, raising that amount in a series C round led by  TPG Growth’s Rise Fund  just makes sense. In 2017, the company processed $2.7 billion in payments, said chief executive, Ken Njoroge. Clients include the continent’s largest banks: Barclays Bank, Standard Chartered, Standard Bank, and Ecobank. Cellulant also has multiple revenue streams and is EBITDA positive, according to its CEO. So what does an African technology company do with $47.5 million? “The round is to accelerate our growth of around 20 percent…north of 50 percent,” said Njoroge. “Most of the investment is to scale out our existing platform in Africa and build usage on our existing network.” Founded in 2004, Cellulant offers Person-to-Business,  B2B , and P2B services on its Mula and Tingg products. It’s also developing a blockchain based  Agrikore  product for agriculture related market activity. On Africa’s digital payments potential, “We’ve built internal value models that estimate the size of the market at somewhere between $25BN and $40BN,” said Njoroge. He differentiates Cellulant’s focus from  Safaricom’s M-Pesa –one of Africa most recognized payment products — by transaction type and scope

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Synthego’s new products give scientists access to edited genetic material

Synthego , a provider of gene editing services for genomics research and experimentation, has launched a new suite of products that give researchers access to edited genetic material to make experimenting with programmable biology easier. The company’s new service will provide researchers with genetic material that has already been edited using the CRISPR process so that scientists can test their hypotheses around new treatments for diseases or new expressions of genetic traits faster. “Gene editing technologies like CRISPR have dramatically improved how researchers make genomic modifications. As with many new biological tools, not everyone has the access, time and ability to learn and use CRISPR efficiently to get the results they want. Due to these barriers, there is significant demand for products that make CRISPR accessible to the masses so researchers can focus on experimental outcomes rather than method development,” said George Church, Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and MIT, in a statement.  CRISPR technology allows scientists to edit genetic material to suppress or promote certain biological traits and has broad applications from material science to energy to agriculture to health. What Synthego is offering is basically gene editing as a service, according to the company’s chief executive Paul Dabrowski. Photo: Andrew Brookes/Getty Images There are two basic functions that people use CRISPR for, said Dabrowski. The first is to remove a gene or function and the second is adding a function to genetic material. Both of those processes involve three (very complicated) steps. First scientists have to identify the gene that they want to target and then understand what genetic material within that gene they want to target for removal. Then a research team would need to identify and procure the reagents and components they need to edit a gene. Finally, the team would need to figure out whether the edit was made successfully and watch for results when the edited genetic material is cultivated.

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Sony RX100 VI Sample Images

Ahead of our full review, here are some sample images and movies taken with the new Sony RX100 VI compact camera, including the full ISO range. The Sony RX100 VI has a versatile 24-200mm lens, can shoot at 24fps for up to 233 shots with full AF/AE tracking, and offers the fastest auto-focusing of any 1-inch sensor compact camera.

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How Yelp (mostly) shut down its own data centers and moved to AWS

Back in 2013, Yelp was a 9-year old company built on a set of internal systems. It was coming to the realization that running its own data centers might not be the most efficient way to run a business that was continuing to scale rapidly. At the same time, the company understood that the tech world had changed dramatically from 2004 when it launched and it needed to transform the underlying technology to a more modern approach. That’s a lot to take on in one bite, but it wasn’t something that happened willy-nilly or overnight says Jason Yellen, SVP of engineering at Yelp . The vast majority of the company’s data was being processed in a massive Python repository that was getting bigger all the time. The conversation about shifting to a microservices architecture began in 2012. The company was also running the massive Yelp application inside its own datacenters, and as it grew it was increasingly becoming limited by long lead times required to procure and get new hardware online. It saw this was an unsustainable situation over the long-term and began a process of transforming from running a huge monolithic application on-premises to one built on microservices running in the cloud. It was a quite a journey. The data center conundrum Yellen described the classic scenario of a company that could benefit from a shift to the cloud. Yelp had a small operations team dedicated to setting up new machines. When engineering anticipated a new resource requirement, they had to give the operations team sufficient lead time to order new servers and get them up and running, certainly not the most efficient way to deal with a resource problem, and one that would have been easily solved by the cloud. “We kept running into a bottleneck, I was running a chunk of the search team at the time and I had to project capacity out to 6-9 months.

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Why SoftBank invested $2.25 billion in Cruise

Earlier today, General Motors’ Cruise received a $2.25 billion investment from SoftBank’s Vision Fund . Once that deal closes, GM will invest another $1.1 billion. SoftBank landed on Cruise because it’s one of “a handful that in our view have a meaningful opportunity in front of them,” SoftBank Vision Fund Managing Partner Michael Ronen told TechCrunch. Cruise’s integrated play of hardware and software attracted SoftBank, Ronen said, as well as the fact that Cruise’s spirit, creativity and energy “has not been diminished at all.” These investments are expected to enable Cruise to deploy commercially starting next year. But what’s most important about this investment to Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt, he told TechCrunch, is the fact that Cruise — which sold to GM for more than $1 billion in 2016 — now has stock and equity in the company again. That’s because “we’re in a war right now to attract the greatest minds in the world to work on this,” Vogt told me. And in order to keep those great minds on board and continue attracting new ones, Vogt said he wants to give them a chance to “participate in the value we create.” “From my standpoint, it’s like we’re a startup all over again,” he told me. Based on Cruise’s rate of improvement in self-driving testing, the company is still on track to commercialization next year, GM President Dan Ammann told TechCrunch. Regarding what that commercialization looks like has yet to be determined. While Cruise’s service will be a consumer-facing experience and network, “we remain open to other opportunities to partner with folks if and when that makes sense,” Ammann said. He added that partnering with SoftBank, which has invested in ride-hailing companies like Didi, Uber and Grab, brings an ecosystem and relationships along with it.

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Google is quietly formulating a new strategy for China

Google is slowing piecing together a strategy for China to ensure that it doesn’t miss out on the growth of technology in the world’s largest country. It’s been months in the making through a series of gradual plays, but further evidence of those plans comes today via a product launch. Files Go — a file manager for Android devices released last year — has made its way to China today . Not a huge launch, for sure, but the mechanisms behind it provide insight into how Google may be thinking about the country, where it has been absent since 2010 after  redirecting its Chinese search service to Hong Kong  in the face of government pressure. For Files Go, Google is taking a partner-led approach to distribution because the Google Play Store does not operate in China. The company is working with Tencent, Huawei, Xiaomi and  Baidu, each of which will stock the app in their independent app stores, which are among the country’s most prominent third-party stores. Let that sink in a little: the creator of Android is using third-party Android app stores to distribute one of its products. On the outside that’s quite the scenario, but in China it makes perfect of sense. There’s been regular media speculation  in recent about Google’s desire to return to China which, during its absence, has become the largest single market for smartphone users, and  the country with the most app downloads  and highest app revenue per year. Mostly the rumors have centered around audacious strategies such as the return of the Google Play Store or the restoration of Google’s Chinese search business, both of which would mean complying with demands from the Chinese government. Then there’s the politics. The U.S. and China are currently in an ongoing trade standoff that has spilled into tech, impacting deals , while Chinese premier Xi Jinping has taken a protectionist approach to promoting local business and industries, in particular AI .

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Former journo Alexia Bonatsos unveils her new venture fund, Dream Machine

Five years ago, Alexia Bonatsos, née Tsotsis, was co-editor of TechCrunch, a job that made her renowned in startup circles and familiar with a wide number of startups and their founders. What she really longed to do, in fact, was invest in some of them. “I was among the first people to write about Pinterest and Wish — when it was known as ContextLogic — and Uber and Instagram and WhatsApp,” says Bonatsos. “I started to wonder if I was in the right place at the right time — so, luck — or if I’m in the right information flows. I was curious: What if I’d been writing checks?” She talked occasionally with venture firms, but the right job didn’t materialize. So she set to work on creating her own dream job. Her first move was to  step down from her post at TechCrunch in 2015 to enter into an accelerated, one-year master’s degree program at Stanford University’s business school. (“I wanted to be able to communicate in the same language” as other VCs, she says with a shrug.) All the while, and in the year afterward, she was talking with founders about how to tell their story and shape their editorial and convince people with large followings that they are worth tracking — skills Bonatsos had herself honed as a reporter. She wasn’t building out her network merely to stay connected; she was also slowly piecing together checks from individual investors for a debut venture fund. Toward that end, last December, she registered her San Francisco-based firm, Dream Machine , with the SEC, listing the target amount at $25 million . If she has reached or is nearing that number, she won’t say out of an abundance of caution around securities regulations. (This is what happens when business journalists become VCs.) Still, when we caught up with her recently, she disclosed that she has already made seven investments, including as part of one token sale. She also shared a bit about what they have in common, which seemingly centers on two things: they involve the ever-growing sharing economy, and they take advantage of an overarching trend toward decentralization.   One of those bets, for example, is TruStory, which we’d written about earlier this week

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Fujifilm X-T100 Mirrorless Camera Offers 24 Megapixels, Phase-Detect AF, Electronic Viewfinder and Articulating LCD Screen

The Fujifilm X-T100 is a new mid-range mirrorless camera with a 24.2 megapixel sensor, advanced automatic scene recognition, phase detection autofocus system, three way tilting touch screen, electronic viewfinder and the latest Bluetooth technology. In the UK, the X-T100 comes in three colours; Black, Dark Silver and Champagne Gold. Partnered in a kit with the XC 15-45mm zoom lens, it will be available in late June 2018 for £619.00. In the U.S. and Canada it will cost USD $699.95 and CAD $899.99, or body only for USD $599.95 and CAD $749.99.

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How and why I invest in startups

Ashton Kutcher Contributor Share on Twitter Ashton Kutcher is an actor and investor. He is the co-founder of Sound Ventures . A lot of people ask me how I choose to invest in startups.  Stage?  Revenue metrics?  Sector? I’m not proactively funding at different stages. I’m proactively funding brilliant people trying to solve hard problems. Focusing on this simple goal of identifying and enabling amazing entrepreneurs to create a better tomorrow is the crux of my investment strategy. My startup investment “formula” A lot of venture funds try to optimize for returns.  They run complex ratio economic models to determine what their diluted value will be at the end of the life cycle of the optimal and non-optimal case of every given company. I don’t do that. I just try to fund the best and brightest. I love working with the smartest and brightest people in the world on some of the hardest challenges. And oftentimes I make a return as a result of that. I weigh investments based on two vectors: Return Happiness The primary litmus I put on any investment is on behalf of my LPs. Will the capital have a potential of 6-10x returns in five, eight, 10 years

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Tinder pilots Places, a feature that tracks your location for better matches

Tinder will now help you find matches with those people you may cross paths with in your day-to-day life. As promised earlier , the company today is announcing the launch of a new location-based feature that will narrow your list of potential dating prospects to those who hit up your same bar for after-work drinks, or who stop by your favorite coffee shop for their daily caffeine fix, or who work out at your same gym. Yes, that’s right — you no longer have to say “hello” in real life — you can match first, then speak. This is what it’s come to, friends. Even the “meet cute” story is now a dating app product. The feature, known as Tinder Places, was previously spotted during beta tests. Starting today, Tinder Places is formally being announced as a public beta test that’s underway in three cities: Sydney and Brisbane, Australia and Santiago, Chile. (It was being tested privately in these markets prior to now.) The plan is to collect user feedback from the public trials, and tweak the product before it launches to all users worldwide, the company says. The idea of sharing your location with strangers, however,  is a bit creepy  — especially considering that Tinder users are not always respectful. But Tinder believes that the fact it’s showing you people you might actually run into in real life will actually prompt more civility in those initial chats. “I do think that — and this is a personal hypothesis of mine — if you match with someone who you know goes to the same place as you, I think that will set a very different tone to the conversation than someone who is more or less anonymous as an online match on a dating platform,” says Samantha Stevens, director of Location Products at Tinder, who led the product’s development. She says the larger idea here is to present users with potential matches who you already have things in common with, as reflected by the places you go

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