Looks like Elon Musk’s Neuralink has finally convinced a few biggies in the tech industry. On Thursday, Neuralink announced a Series C funding round of $205 million, which featured Google Ventures and OpenAI’s founder Sam Altman among others that included Fred Ehrsam co-founder of Coinbase and Ken Howery co-founder of PayPal. Neuralink was founded by Elon Musk to help those with brain injuries in the near term and reduce AI risk to humanity in the long term. The company’s mission is to develop brain-machine interfaces that treat various brain related ailments, with the eventual goal of creating a whole brain interface capable of more closely connecting biological and artificial intelligence. Neuralink has spent the last four years building the first high channel count brain machine interface intended for therapeutic use in patients. Neuralink’s brain implants are intended to help quadriplegics regain their digital freedom by allowing users to interact with their computers or phones in a high bandwidth and naturalistic way. “The funds from the round will be used to take Neuralink’s first product to market and accelerate the research and development of future products,” said Neuralink in their press release.
AI’s Patent Rights
There is a case quietly making its way through the Federal Court of Australia that can change the way we look at the concept of invention. According to reports, an Australian court has been tasked with finding an answer to whether a patent can be granted for an invention that was devised by a machine, or is a human inventor required. A US based computer programmer claims that his AI project, DABUS (‘Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience’) is capable of inventing on its own. The AI Inventor Project(AIP) has already filed patent applications in 17 countries, including the US and the UK. To even have an argument like this is unprecedented and can shake up the foundations of research, ethics and innovation.
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Apple Gets Gassed
On Friday, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company(TSMC) said that one of its plants that makes Apple processors was hit by contamination of gas. According to Nikkei, the factory — dubbed Fab 18 — is the company’s most advanced chip making facility. All of the latest processors for upcoming iPhones and Mac computers are produced there. “Some TSMC production lines in the South Taiwan Science Park received certain gases from suppliers that are believed to be contaminated. These were quickly replaced with other gas supplies,” the company told Nikkei, adding that the contamination was discovered on Thursday night. The ongoing chip drought has already disrupted the global supply chain markets. From automobiles to GPUs, many markets are struggling to keep up with the demands. The latest mishap in the Taiwanese company underlines the perils of isolated manufacturing hubs.
PM Modi Bets Big On AI
On Thursday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched key initiatives marking the first anniversary of National Education Policy (NEP 2020). The live webcast featured the Prime Minister along with members from Ministry of Education, NCC-New Delhi, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras, UGC, AICTE etc. The major announcements include the AI for All initiative by the central board of secondary education(CBSE) in collaboration with Intel, SAFAL assessment framework etc. AI For All is a four-hour, self-paced learning program that demystifies AI in an inclusive manner.
SAFAL is an assessment proposed by NEP 2020 to assess students at school level. The assessment system, according to CBSE, is designed to promote development of students and suggests a shift from testing rote memorisation to competency-based learning. SAFAL will have an annual school examination for all students in Grades 3, 5, and 8, which will focus on testing core concepts, application of knowledge and higher order thinking skills. Read the full story here.
Amazon Sets A New Record
We are not talking about Blue Origin or the quarterly earnings. This is a record that Amazon is not very proud of. According to reports, Amazon has been fined a record $887 million, by a European Union(EU) privacy regulator for violations related to its advertising. This is the largest-ever fine under the EU’s data-protection law. Big tech and their big fines have become a common sighting in the last couple of years. This year especially, the crackdown has been more palpable. Both the US and the UK have been levying heavy fines and proposing regulations that end the “monopolisation” of the markets.
Duolingo Talks Numbers
On Wednesday, language learning app Duolingo made a grand debut on Nasdaq with its valuation touching $6.5 billion. Duolingo began as a computer science project for co-founders Severin Hacker and Luis von Ahn aimed at teaching people foreign languages while trying to translate the entire internet. The app has 40 million monthly active users and more than 500 million downloads. In 2020 alone, the company raked in 51% of revenue from Apple’s App Store and 19 % from the Google Play Store, and was the top-grossing app in the education category on both the platforms.