Sherpa, a Spanish voice assistant, expands Series A to $15M as it passes 5M users


When we think of the AI platforms that are shaping how we use voice to interact with phones, home devices and other services, we tend to think of Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, Google and Microsoft's Cortana. But there are other players that may prove to have a compelling value proposition of their own., a voice assistant out of Spain that also provides predictive recommendations with a focus on the Spanish language, today is announcing that it has expanded its Series A by $8.5 million to $15 million as it passes 5 million active users of its app. Investors include Mundi Ventures, a Spanish VC fund focused on AI, and Alex Cruz, the chairman and CEO of British Airways. In a still-heated tech climate where startups are raising tens and sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars in rounds that sometimes happen only months apart, Sherpa's Series A has been a comparatively slow burn: the startup first announced a Series A of $6.5 million nearly three years ago.

Microsoft's Bing search engine goes offline in China, raising fears it was 'walled off'

The Japan Times

BEIJING - The Microsoft-run search engine Bing was unavailable in mainland China late Wednesday, raising concerns among some social media users that it could be the latest foreign website to be blocked by censors. It is not clear whether Bing has joined China's long list of prohibited websites or if its China service is experiencing technical difficulties. Facebook, Twitter and a host of Western media websites are blocked in China. While its rival Google shut down its search engine in China in 2010, Bing has continued to operate in the country along with Microsoft-owned Skype. On Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media site, people complained about the lack of access, with some speculating that Bing too had been "walled off.

[REPLACE] Microsoft


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Why AI Hasn't Lived Up To The Hype In The Workplace


You don't have to look very far to see a world of optimism in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). IBM, Amazon and Microsoft are investing millions in developing and marketing solutions aimed at streamlining business decisions (some of which are incredibly cool, like Microsoft's AI for Good initiative or Amazon's language transcription). And while much of the optimism is well-founded as new applications for AI begin to gain traction in the workplace, noticeably absent are AI tools for front-line and information workers. Don't get me wrong -- I love that Amazon suggests other products I might like and Netflix is always trying to predict my movie night preferences. But those examples of AI represent a closed approach to delivering AI solutions to a passive audience.

10 ways machine learning is revolutionising sales


Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning show the potential to reduce the most time-consuming, manual tasks that keep sales teams away from spending more time with customers. Automating account-based marketing support with predictive analytics and supporting account-centered research, forecasting, reporting, and recommending which customers to upsell first are all techniques freeing sales teams from manually intensive tasks. CRM and Configure, Price & Quote (CPQ) providers continue to develop and fine-tune their digital assistants, which are specifically designed to help the sales team get the most value from AI and machine learning. Salesforces' Einstein supports voice-activation commands from Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google. Salesforce and other enterprise software companies continue to aggressively invest in research & development (R&D).

Face recognition: Are Italy's police using millions more mugshots than is legal?


Italy's police have been using a new facial-recognition system for the past few months. It's based on a database of 16 million mugshots, nine million of which belong to people who have been identified by the police only once, while the other seven million are of individuals who have been stopped repeatedly. Officially introduced in July last year following an eight-month testing phase, SARI (Automated System for Image Recognition) has already helped in the arrests of shoplifters and burglars across the country. But it's also raised doubts and questions about its legality. The first question mark surfaced over the number of people included in the database.

Using Machine Learning to Build Better Machine Learning


Automated machine learning(AutoML) is becoming one of the most popular topics in modern data science applications. Often, people see AutoML as a mechanism to use out-of-the-box machine learning models without the need of sophisticated data science knowledge. While theoretically, this argument makes sense the reality if a bit different. In the current stage of artificial intelligence(AI), most real world applications require some level of machine learning knowledge. The scenarios that you can solve with a vanilla API like the Watson Developer Cloud or Microsoft Cognitive Services are very basic and represent only a small percentage of the broader spectrum of machine learning scenarios.

Are Robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Threats to Human Employment?


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is simply an attempt to create machines that mimic the human mind. Although AI has become the buzzword in tech circles in recent times, it's not a new thing. Remember when Deep Blue beat the world best chess player in 1997? The main idea behind AI is to perform repetitive, monotonous and possibly dangerous tasks with machines. Much of humanity will now be free to focus on higher intellectual pursuits that promise a better life.

Microsoft lays AI sensors for smart farming, cutting-edge healthcare in India - Weekly Voice


The aim is clear: To help the community digitally record information to cut costs and increase yields -- with just a smartphone in their hands as AI leveraged Cloud computing to make sense of the data for farmers. India has now embarked on a journey to bring AI sensors into the fields. For Anant Maheshwari, the company's India President, Microsoft has begun empowering small-holder farmers in India to increase their income through higher crop yield and greater price control. "We are working with farmers, state governments, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare to create an ecosystem for AI into farming," Maheshwari told IANS. In some villages in Telangana, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, farmers are receiving automated voice calls that tell them whether their cotton crops are at risk of a pest attack, based on weather conditions and crop stage.

Your Guide to Natural Language Processing (NLP)


Everything we express (either verbally or in written) carries huge amounts of information. The topic we choose, our tone, our selection of words, everything adds some type of information that can be interpreted and value extracted from it. In theory, we can understand and even predict human behaviour using that information. But there is a problem: one person may generate hundreds or thousands of words in a declaration, each sentence with its corresponding complexity. If you want to scale and analyze several hundreds, thousands or millions of people or declarations in a given geography, then the situation is unmanageable.