Amba Kak is the executive director of the AI Now Institute, where she helps create policy recommendations to address AI concerns. She was also a senior AI advisor at the Federal Trade Commission and previously worked as a global policy advisor at Mozilla and a legal advisor to India’s telecom regulator on net-netruality. How do you navigate the challenges of the male-dominated tech industry and, by extension, the male-dominated AI industry? The tech industry, and AI in particular, remains overwhelmingly white and male and geographically concentrated in very wealthy urban bubbles. By exposing the power dynamics that the tech industry tries very hard to conceal.
We’ll publish several pieces throughout the year as the AI boom continues, highlighting key work that often goes unrecognized. Mutale Nkonde is the founding CEO of the nonprofit AI For the People (AFP), which seeks to increase the amount of Black voices in tech. It established AI for the People as a key thought leader around how to develop protocols to guide the design, deployment, and governance of AI systems that comply with local nondiscrimination laws. There is so much work to be done on reskilling our workforce for a time when AI systems do low-stakes labor-saving tasks. What information can they give us about how AI systems work and do not work from them, and how can we use these insights to make sure AI truly is for the People?
And tech companies in the West have rallied around the sector, increasingly working with Ukrainian tech firms on a range of initiatives. This week Google launched its second ‘Google for Startups Ukraine Support Fund’ with a budget of $10M to support Ukrainian startups during 2024 and 2025. Selected Ukrainian startups will receive up to $200,000 in equity-free funding, as well as Google mentorship, product support, and $300,000 in Google Cloud credits. Meanwhile, Estonian accelerator Startup Wise Guys launched Growth Ukraine, a programme for startups in Ukraine. And the EU-funded project ‘Seeds of Bravery’ programme has five programmes to support Ukrainian tech startups with grants ranging from €10,000 to €50,000.
To give AI-focused women academics and others their well-deserved — and overdue — time in the spotlight, TechCrunch is launching a series of interviews focusing on remarkable women who’ve contributed to the AI revolution. Despite the many ways in which women have advanced AI tech, they make up a tiny sliver of the global AI workforce. According to a 2021 Stanford study, just 16% of tenure-track faculty focused on AI are women. With any luck, TechCrunch’s humble contribution — a series on accomplished women in AI — will help move the needle in the right direction. The women we profile share many suggestions for those who wish to grow and evolve the AI field for the better.
Massive training data sets are the gateway to powerful AI models — but often, also those models’ downfall. Morcos’ company, DatologyAI, builds tooling to automatically curate data sets like those used to train OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Gemini and other like GenAI models. “However, not all data are created equal, and some training data are vastly more useful than others. History has shown automated data curation doesn’t always work as intended, however sophisticated the method — or diverse the data. The largest vendors today, from AWS to Google to OpenAI, rely on teams of human experts and (sometimes underpaid) annotators to shape and refine their training data sets.
Golden Ventures, a Canada-based venture capital firm, closed on over $100 million in capital commitments for its fifth fund targeting high-potential, seed-stage founders working across technologies, including AI, climate, blockchain and quantum. “This is a continuation of our core thesis and created to be super founder-aligned,” Golden told TechCrunch. The firm makes both core investments and those that lean more on the angel side. Over 13 years, Golden Ventures has backed over 100 companies at the seed stage. Golden Ventures V is backed by a group of existing institutional limited partners, including BDC Capital, ECMC Group, Foundry, HarbourVest Partners, Kensington Capital Partners, Northleaf Capital Partners, RBC, Teralys Capital, University of Chicago and Vintage Investment Partners, and new institutional partner Deloitte Ventures.
funding “Revolutionizing South Africa’s Solar Adoption: How Hohm Energy Secured $8M for Rooftop Expansion”
In the latest development, three-year-old Hohm Energy, which connects homeowners and businesses with accredited solar installers, product suppliers, and embedded solar finance in South Africa, has raised $8 million in seed investment. The funding, whose first tranche of $4.25 million came in Q4 2022, is the largest seed round for a tech startup in South Africa, according to Hohm Energy. Hohm Energy says its solution was built as an alternative and sustainable energy source for over 7 million addressable households connected to South Africa’s national grid. Hohm Energy would then generate a final engineering proposal and present it to its banking partners for financing approval. “We are thrilled to announce our inaugural investment in Hohm Energy.
After a few years of funding frenzy, autonomous driving companies in China are experiencing a slowdown in investment. Haomo.ai, an autonomous driving startup backed by Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor, has raised 100 million yuan, or $14 million, from a fresh round of funding, it said today. Four-year-old Haomo has raised over $200 million worth of equity funding, according to startup database ITJuzi, and all of that money was denominated in Chinese yuan. Chinese food delivery giant Meituan and Qualcomm Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Qualcomm, are among Haomo’s past investors. Haomo is competing with a rank of Chinese AV upstarts that raised money from Western VCs and, such as Pony.ai, WeRide, Momenta, Deeproute.
U.S. healthcare technology giant Change Healthcare has confirmed a cyberattack on its systems. Most of the login pages for Change Healthcare are inaccessible or offline when TechCrunch checked at the time of writing. Michigan local newspaper the Huron Daily Tribune is reporting that local pharmacies are experiencing outages due to the Change Healthcare cyberattack. Change Healthcare is one of the largest healthcare technology companies in the United States. Both Optum and Change Healthcare are owned by health insurance giant UnitedHealth Group.
India has updated official rules in the space sector to attract global investors and companies, after opening it up to private players four years ago. The new foreign direct investment (FDI) policy raises limits on foreign investment, potentially spurring renewed interest in the South Asian space community. Private and public actors in India have been taking measures to increase participation in the country’s space sector. India has around 190 space tech startups, offering solutions including launch vehicles, space situational awareness and hyperspectral imagery. Investments in Indian space startups reached over $124 million last year, per government data.