China is one of the foremost nations embracing a fully connected society. In many major Chinese cities, sensor-filled machines that accept digital payments and support public data-collection are commonplace. Such technologies are found in supermarkets, malls, and even on sidewalks -- Chinese panhandlers have notably used the WeChat platform to collect donations from passersby. Already, China's mobile payments market is nearly 50 times that of the U.S.'s. China represents a significant investment opportunity for breakthrough innovations in digital industries.
Will 2020 be the year of drone taxis? I'm going to peg it on'unlikely.' Drone taxi company EHang, which made its debut on the stock market in December 2019 with a public offering price of $12.50 per share, opened on its first trading day of 2020 in the $10 realm. But $10 might not be too shabby. While EHang stock hit as high as $13.70 per share, it has also dipped as low as $7.84 in the short timespan that it's been on the public market.
University of Toronto graduate student Avishek "Joey" Bose, under the supervision of associate professor Parham Aarabi in the school's department of electrical and computer engineering, has created an algorithm that dynamically disrupts facial recognition systems. The project has privacy-related and even safety-related implications for systems that use so-called machine learning -- and for all of us whose data may be used in ways we don't realize. Major companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook and Netflix are today leveraging machine learning. Financial trading firms and health care companies are using it, too -- as are smart car manufacturers. What is machine learning, anyway?
Wayve, a U.K.-based startup that's developing artificial intelligence (AI) that teaches cars to drive autonomously using reinforcement learning, simulation, and computer vision, has raised $20 million in a series A round of funding led by Palo Alto venture capital (VC) firm Eclipse Ventures, with participation from Balderton Capital, Compound Ventures, Fly Ventures, and First Minute Capital. Several notable angel investors also participated in the round, including Uber's chief scientist Zoubin Ghahramani and Pieter Abbeel, a UC Berkeley robotics professor and pioneer of deep reinforcement learning. Founded out of Cambridge, U.K., in 2017, Wayve's core premise is that the big breakthrough in self-driving cars will come from better AI brains rather than more sensors or "hand-coded" rules. The company said that it trains its autonomous driving system using simulated environments and then transfers that knowledge into the real world, where it emulates how humans adapt to conditions in real time. Wayve's systems learn from each safety driver intervention to understand why the driver had to intervene, bypassing HD maps, lidar, and other sensors that have become synonymous with the burgeoning autonomous vehicle movement.