Technology

Technology

Twitter puts Infowars’ Alex Jones in the ‘read-only’ sin bin for 7 days

Twitter has finally taken action against Infowars creator Alex Jones, but it isn’t what you might think. While Apple, Facebook, Google/YouTube, Spotify and many others have removed Jones and his conspiracy-peddling organization Infowars from their platforms, Twitter has remained unmoved with its claim that Jones hasn’t violated rules on its platform. That was helped in no small way by the mysterious removal of some tweets last week, but now Jones has been found to have violated Twitter’s rules, as CNET first noted. Twitter is punishing Jones for a tweet that violates its community standards but it isn’t locking him out forever. Instead, a spokesperson for the company confirmed that Jones’ account is in “read-only mode” for up to seven days. That means he will still be able to use the servi...

Karma raises $12M to let restaurants and grocery stores offer unsold food at a discount

Karma, the Stockholm-based startup that offers a marketplace to let local restaurants and grocery offer unsold food at a discount, has raised $12 million in Series A funding. Swedish investment firm Kinnevik led the round, with participation from U.S. venture capital firm Bessemer Venture Partners, appliance manufacturer Electrolux, and previous backer VC firm e.ventures. It brings total funding to $18 million. Founded in late 2015 by Hjalmar Ståhlberg Nordegren, Ludvig Berling, Mattis Larsson and Elsa Bernadotte, and launched the following year, Karma is an app-based marketplace that helps restaurants and grocery stores reduce food waste by selling unsold food at a discount direct to consumers. You simply register your location with the iOS or Android app and can browse various food merch...

‘Unhackable’ BitFi crypto wallet has been hacked

The BitFi crypto wallet was supposed to be unhackable and none other than famous weirdo John McAfee claimed that the device – essentially an Android-based mini tablet – would withstand any attack. Spoiler alert: it couldn’t. First, a bit of background. The $120 device launched at the beginning of this month to much fanfare. It consisted of a device that McAfee claimed contained no software or storage and was instead a standalone wallet similar to the Trezor. The website featured a bold claim by McAfee himself, one that would give a normal security researcher pause: Further, the company offered a bug bounty that seems to be slowly being eroded by outside forces. They asked hackers to pull coins off of a specially prepared $10 wallet, a move that is uncommon in the world of bug bounties. The...

Revcontent is trying to get rid of misinformation with help from the Poynter Institute

CEO John Lemp recently said that thanks to a new policy, publishers in Revcontent‘s content recommendation network “won’t ever make a cent” on false and misleading stories — at least, not from the network. To achieve this, the company is relying on fact-checking provided by the Poynter Institute’s International Fact Checking Network. If any two independent fact checkers from International Fact Checking flag a story from the Revcontent network as false, the company’s widget will be removed, and Revcontent will not pay out any money on that story (not even revenue earned before the story was flagged). In some ways, Revcontent’s approach to fighting fake news and misinformation sounds similar to the big social media companies — Lemp, like Twitter, has said his company cannot be the “arbiter o...

Finding the Goldilocks zone for applied AI

Ivy Nguyen Contributor More posts by this contributor GDPR panic may spur data and AI innovation Data is not the new oil While Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg debate the dangers of artificial general intelligence, startups applying AI to more narrowly defined problems such as accelerating the performance of sales teams and improving the operating efficiency of manufacturing lines are building billion-dollar businesses. Narrowly defining a problem, however, is only the first step to finding valuable business applications of AI. To find the right opportunity around which to build an AI business, startups must apply the “Goldilocks principle” in several different dimensions to find the sweet spot that is “just right” to begin — not too far in one dimension, not too far in another. Here are some...

This robot maintains tender, unnerving eye contact

Humans already find it unnerving enough when extremely alien-looking robots are kicked and interfered with, so one can only imagine how much worse it will be when they make unbroken eye contact and mirror your expressions while you heap abuse on them. This is the future we have selected. The Simulative Emotional Expression Robot, or SEER, was on display at SIGGRAPH here in Vancouver, and it’s definitely an experience. The robot, a creation of Takayuki Todo, is a small humanoid head and neck that responds to the nearest person by making eye contact and imitating their expression. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s pretty complex to execute well, which, despite a few glitches, SEER managed to do. At present it alternates between two modes: imitative and eye contact. Both, of course, rely o...

Pandora Premium comes to Google Assistant-powered devices

Pandora Premium is coming to Google Home, Mini, and Max devices, and other smart speakers and screens with Google Assistant built-in, the company announced this morning. The integration means listeners who pay for Pandora’s on-demand music service will be able to search and play any song, album, or playlist, just by asking Google, and can even search by lyrics, play their personalized “mood” playlists, and take other actions using their voice. For example, Google Assistant users will be able to thumbs up and thumbs down tracks on Pandora, skip tracks, create new stations, or play a song again, using voice commands. The service can also be set as the default on Google Home, so you don’t have to specify to play the songs via Pandora when issuing commands. Support for Pandora Premium on Googl...

DC Entertainment’s new streaming and digital comics service pops up on Google Play

DC Universe’s digital subscription and streaming service has just appeared on Google Play, ahead of its planned fall 2018 release. Announced in late June, the service includes a streaming library of original programming like a live action version of “Teen Titans” and several other shows; plus a selection of DC animated movies, classic TV series like “Wonder Woman,” the four Christopher Reeve-starring Superman films; and a host of other content like a lineup of digital comics, an online forum, and more. So far, interested users can only sign up to pre-order the service, and that, apparently, has not changed. However, the company has said that it would begin a beta test in August, and the app’s launch appears to be the first indication that’s about to kick off. One screen, for example, shows...

Singapore’s Openspace Ventures closes new $135M fund for Southeast Asia

It seems like everyone is out there raising new funds in Southeast Asia. Weeks after we reported Golden Gate Ventures hit a first close on its third fund aimed at $100 million, so Openspace Ventures — the Singapore-based firm formerly known as NSI — has announced a final close of $135 million for its second fund. Founded in 2014 by entrepreneur Hian Goh and finance exec Shane Chesson, Openspace is best known for being an early backer of Indonesian ride-hailing unicorn Go-Jek. A selection of its other investments includes fintech startup FinAccel, e-commerce player Love Bonito, restaurant booking service Chope, health-focused insurance brokerage CXA Group, and bread maker Rotimatic. Openspace specializes in Series A with a typical check size of $3 million to $5 million, and capital for foll...

Submit your application to TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Africa 2018

If there’s one thing we learned hosting last year’s Startup Battlefield in Kenya, it’s that the tech startup scene across Africa is both impressive and growing rapidly. More than 300 tech hubs connect and mentor entrepreneurs across the continent — making it an exciting time and place to be a startup. And we can’t wait to see even more of Sub-Saharan Africa’s best innovators, makers and technical entrepreneurs compete in TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Africa 2018 in Lagos, Nigeria on December 11. If you haven’t applied yet, what the heck are you waiting for? Submit your application right here and launch your early-stage startup to the world. We’re searching for the best of the best, and our expert TechCrunch editors will review every eligible application and select up to 15 companies to co...

Ethereum’s falling price splits the crypto community

Hello And Welcome Back To The Latest Edition Of All The Cryptos Are Getting Rekt Right Now. Crypto bloodbaths have become fairly common in 2018 — mainly because of the insane growth in 2017 — but we’ve not covered them all because they are so numerous and often include so-called ‘flash crashes’ or small drops, but the fall happening today is worth noting for several wider reasons. Primarily that’s because this is a major test for Ether — the token associated with the Ethereum Foundation that is the second largest cryptocurrency by volume — has been on a downward spiral with little sign of change. Ether, which is the preferred platform of choice for most developers building on the blockchain, is down nearly 17 percent over the past day. That’s erased billions of dollars in paper (crypto) va...

WeWork China rival Ucommune raises $43.5M more at a $1.8B valuation

Barely weeks after WeWork China raised $500 million, one of its main rivals is refueling its tanks too. Ucommune — the company formerly known as UrWork until a WeWork lawsuit forced a rebrand — announced its $43.5 million Series C round. Beijing-based Ucommune’s new round was led by real estate-focused investment firms Prosperity Holdings and RK Properties. The company said the deal gives its business a $1.8 billion post-money valuation. to date, it has raised around $450 million from investors, according to Crunchbase data. For comparison, WeWork China has pulled in $1 billion overall since being spun out of WeWork’s global business one year ago. Both investors are strategic, according to Ucommune. It said that its partnership with Prosperity, in particular, will help it expand its presen...