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Computer Vision Startup Yitu Nabs $100 Million in Funding

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Shanghai-based computer vision company Yitu announced today that it has acquired an additional US$100 million in funding, with China Industrial Asset Management as the sole investor this round. Yitu is one of China's four AI unicorns, along with Face, Cloudwalk and SenseTime. On June 12th, 2018, Yitu completed its C Round with US$200 Million from GC Capital, ICBC International, and SPDB International. This new funding raises Yitu's valuation to over US$2.3 billion. Yitu was found in 2012 and focuses on computer vision, natural language processing, knowledge reasoning, intelligent hardware, and robotics.


10 things in tech you need to know today

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This is the tech news you need to know this Thursday. News of this deal comes just four months after President Trump blocked Broadcom from acquiring chipmaker Qualcomm in a $103 billion hostile takeover on national security grounds. The new terms give Facebook explicit permission to audit developers' use of data, in what looks an effort to prevent a second Cambridge Analytica-style scandal. Musk was responding to a Twitter user who said he had been told Musk wouldn't be able to help bring clean water to Flint. According to an excerpt of the account in Vanity Fair, employees feared Brin's behaviour would lead to a sexual harassment lawsuit.


Tesla goes big in China with Shanghai plant

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk on Tuesday landed a deal with Chinese authorities to build a new auto plant in Shanghai, its first factory outside the United States, that would double the size of the electric car maker's global manufacturing. The deal was announced as Tesla raised prices on U.S.-made vehicles it sells in China to offset the cost of new tariffs imposed by the Chinese government in retaliation for U.S. President Donald Trump's heavier duties on Chinese goods. Musk was in Shanghai Tuesday, and the Shanghai government in a statement said it welcomed Tesla's move to invest not only in a new factory in the city, a center of the Chinese auto industry, but in research and development, as well. China has long pushed to capture more of the talent and capital invested by global automakers in advanced electric vehicle technology. Tesla plans to produce the first cars about two years after construction begins on its Shanghai factory, ramping up to as many as 500,000 vehicles a year about two to three years later, the company said.


News Release: U.S. Canada Kick off Artificial Intelligence Initiative

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WASHINGTON--A new initiative kicks off today to evaluate the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and situational awareness technologies during critical incidents. The effort is a joint partnership between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and Canada's Department of National Defence science and technology organization, Defence Research and Development Canada Centre for Security Science (DRDC CSS) to ensure both American and Canadian next generation first responders are better connected, protected and fully aware during critical incidents. Over the next two years, the two countries will collaborate on new research and development projects, hold joint workshops and field experiments and share best practices and lessons learned to ensure the safety and effectiveness of first responders and the public. "Canadian and American responders have very similar requirements," said John Merrill, DHS S&T's Director of Next Generation First Responder Apex Program. "By jointly determining research and development priorities between the two countries, we can reach our goal faster and more efficiently, eliminating duplication of effort and optimizing funding."


Salesforce employees ask CEO to reconsider contract with border protection agency

USATODAY

Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff at Salesforce Dreamfest 17. Employees at Salesforce sent a letter to Benioff asking him to reconsider the company's contract with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. SAN FRANCISCO – Employees at Salesforce signed a letter to their CEO Marc Benioff asking him to reconsider the company's contracts with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the latest in a string of staff protests at major tech companies over government contracts. More than 650 employees signed the letter, according to Bloomberg and Buzzfeed, which obtained a copy. The letter says Salesforce employees are aware that certain company products and tools are being used by CBP, and they are particularly concerned about Salesforce's Service Cloud being used in border activities. "Given the inhumane separation of children from their parents currently taking place at the border, we believe that our core value of Equality is at stake and that Salesforce should re-examine our contractual relationship with CBP and speak out against its practices," the letter said.


Google Says It Won't Allow Its Artificial Intelligence in Military Weapons

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

In a new 8,000-word set of ethical principles and guidelines, Google outlined how it plans to manage--and in some cases limit--the application of artificial intelligence, a powerful and emerging set of technologies that Google views as key to its growth. Google, the primary business unit of Alphabet Inc., GOOGL -1.09% has recently come under criticism from its own employees for supplying image-recognition technology to the U.S. Department of Defense, in a partnership called Project Maven. Google told employees earlier this month it wouldn't seek to renew its contract for Project Maven, a person familiar with the matter said at the time, and that decision in turn was blasted by some who said the company shouldn't be conflicted about supporting national security. Google's artificial intelligence also recently generated public alarm after the company demonstrated a robotic voice that can trick humans into thinking it is real. Google is having to expand its definition of ethics as its technology seeps more and more into the institutions of public life, from scientific research to military intelligence.


Google Says It Won't Allow Its Artificial Intelligence in Military Weapons

#artificialintelligence

In a new 8,000-word set of ethicals principles and guidelines, Google outlined how it plans to manage--and in some cases limit--the application of artificial intelligence, a powerful and emerging set of technologies that Google views as key to its growth. Google, the primary business unit of Alphabet Inc., GOOGL -1.09% has recently come under criticism from its own employees for supplying image-recognition technology to the U.S. Department of Defense, in a partnership called Project Maven. Google told employees earlier this month it wouldn't seek to renew its contract for Project Maven, a person familiar with the matter said at the time, and that decision in turn was blasted by some who said the company shouldn't be conflicted about supporting national security. Google's artificial intelligence also recently generated public alarm after the company demonstrated a robotic voice that can trick humans into thinking it is real. Google is having to expand its definition of ethics as its technology seeps more and more into the institutions of public life, from scientific research to military intelligence.


Fiat Chrysler Unveils Plan to Invest in Electric, Self-Driving Vehicles

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

If that works out as planned, the auto maker expects to double operating profit to €16 billion ($18.71 billion) by 2022 and hit double-digit profit margins from 6.8% today. Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said the company will invest €9 billion to develop and deploy electric engines as it expands its lineup of electric-powered vehicles, part of a €45 billion spending plan over the next five years focused on four core brands: Jeep SUVs, Ram pickups and Alfa Romeo and Maserati luxury cars. "This plan will provide the portfolio of products aligned with our brands that will ensure our ability to comply in each region" with stricter emissions and fuel-economy standards, Mr. Marchionne told financial analysts and media at a meeting on a company test track located outside Milan. In the U.S., the company is expanding its bet on bigger SUVs and trucks, reflecting consumer demand and a more relaxed approach to increasing fuel economy standards in Washington. Mr. Marchionne chided his peers for appearing to back away from what he said was a unified request to President Donald Trump by auto industry leaders to ease fuel economy regulations.


Should bots have a right to free speech? This non-profit thinks so.

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Do you have a right to know if you're talking to a bot? Does it have the right to keep that information from you? Those questions have been stirring in the minds of many since well before Google demoed Duplex, a human-like AI that makes phone calls on a user's behalf, earlier this month. Bots -- online accounts that appear to be controlled by a human, but are actually powered by AI -- are now prevalent all across the internet, specifically on social media sites. While some people think legally forcing these bots to "out" themselves as non-human would be beneficial, others think doing so violates the bot's right to free speech.


Congress, Privacy Groups Question Amazon's Echo Dot for Kids

WIRED

Lawmakers, child development experts, and privacy advocates are expressing concerns about two new Amazon products targeting children, questioning whether they prod kids to be too dependent on technology and potentially jeopardize their privacy. In a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Friday, two members of the bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus raised concerns about Amazon's smart speaker Echo Dot Kids and a companion service called FreeTime Unlimited that lets kids access a children's version of Alexa, Amazon's voice-controlled digital assistant. "While these types of artificial intelligence and voice recognition technology offer potentially new educational and entertainment opportunities, Americans' privacy, particularly children's privacy, must be paramount," wrote Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Representative Joe Barton (R-Texas), both cofounders of the privacy caucus. The letter includes a dozen questions, including requests for details about how audio of children's interactions is recorded and saved, parental control over deleting recordings, a list of third parties with access to the data, whether data will be used for marketing purposes, and Amazon's intentions on maintaining a profile on kids who use these products. Echo Dot Kids is the latest in a wave of products from dominant tech players targeting children, including Facebook's communications app Messenger Kids and Google's YouTube Kids, both of which have been criticized by child health experts concerned about privacy and developmental issues.