AlphaZero Chess: Computers Will Think Differently from Humans, Letting them Outperform Us (on Many Tasks)

Planes fly differently from birds. Cars move differently from horses. And computers think differently from humans. That had always been my assumption but if you needed more proof, Google’s AlphaZero program, which had previously shown novel ways of playing Go, has just learned how to play chess incredibly well. It did so in 24 hours and without studying any prior games. Instead it just played games following the rules of the movement of pieces and learned from that.

I encourage everyone to check out the technical paper on Arxiv, as it contains many fascinating insights. But today I want to focus instead on a key high level implication: Computers are not constrained to learning and thinking like humans. And for many, many tasks that will give them at an extraordinary advantage over humans. Just like mechanized transport turned out to be superior to horses in almost all circumstances.

Our Continue reading "AlphaZero Chess: Computers Will Think Differently from Humans, Letting them Outperform Us (on Many Tasks)"

Will AI match randomness of a human mind?

The other Sunday, I was sitting in Sightglass, chatting with a friend and having coffee. It is what I usually do on the weekend, talk to friends in real life. He stepped away for a few minutes and all I heard between the strains of rock music, the constant rhythmic noise of the belt of the coffee roaster. It was a very mechanical and sweet sound. It was only a few seconds, but I was immediately taken back to when I was six years old. Continue reading "Will AI match randomness of a human mind?"

Should You Fear For Your Job if AI and Big Data Can Do It?

There is a huge amount of fear of artificial intelligence and big data.  What are we all going to do?  The New Yorker put fear on its cover. Have we gone too far in our fear?

Probably.  It doesn’t mean society doesn’t need to be proactive in dealing with the aftershocks of new technology but we are probably hand-wringing a bit too much.

In September, I was an advisor to the G7 on Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and The Future of Work.  We talked about a lot of subjects.  One of the more interesting things that happened was when our group came up with a statement that was given to the bureaucrats of the G7 countries to digest and turn into policy.  Unbeknownst to the participants, Diego Piacentini and his compatriots were loading millions of bytes of information into a supercomputer that used artificial Continue reading "Should You Fear For Your Job if AI and Big Data Can Do It?"

Obama’s former chief data scientist, DJ Patil, joins Venrock as an adviser

 DJ Patil, the chief data scientist under President Barack Obama, has joined Venrock Capital as an adviser. Patil has long been a proponent of using data science and artificial intelligence to solve some of the nation’s biggest problems around areas including medicine, policing and the criminal justice system. “My primary focus is building new models to improve healthcare and… Read More

Famed VC Jim Breyer on finding the next Mark Zuckerberg (and much more)

 Yesterday, at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon, we caught up with Jim Breyer, among the most famous venture capitalists in Silicon Valley thanks to a decades-long track record of smart bets, most notably in Facebook. Breyer was the managing partner at Accel Partners, which invested $12.7 million in Facebook in 2005 when the company was priced around $100 million; that bet proved to be… Read More

a16z Podcast: Putting AI in Medicine, in Practice

There’s been a lot of talk about technology — and AI, deep learning, and machine learning specifically — finally reaching the healthcare sector. But AI in medicine isn’t actually new; it’s actually been there since the 1960s. And yet we …

Evolve Foundation launches a $100 million fund to find startups working to relieve human suffering

 It seems there’s nothing but bad news out there lately, but here’s some good news — the nonprofit Evolve Foundation has raised $100 million for a new fund called the Conscious Accelerator to combat loneliness, purposelessness, fear and anger spreading throughout the world though technology. Co-founder of Matrix Partners China Bo Shao will lead the fund and will be looking… Read More

Berlin’s Ada Health raises $47 million for global expansion of its AI-driven medical app


Using a mix of artificial intelligence and human doctors, Ada Health has seen a surge of users for its telemedicine app that has investors swooning and ready to bet big on the Berlin-based startup.

Today, Ada Health announced it has raised $47 million in venture capital in a funding round led by Access Industries, June Fund, and Berlin-based Cumberland VC. In addition, the company said that William Tunstall-Pedoe, an AI entrepreneur who originally helped develop Amazon’s Alexa, also invested in the round.

“The future of healthcare lies in a much more patient-centric model where individuals have actionable insights at their fingertips, and doctors and artificial intelligence work together to support patients throughout their healthcare journey,” said Daniel Nathrath, CEO and co-founder of Ada Health, in a statement. “We’ve seen incredible traction since launch, receiving countless messages each day about how we’ve helped someone identify an important health issue and get to Continue reading "Berlin’s Ada Health raises $47 million for global expansion of its AI-driven medical app"

New seed funds pursue AI, hard tech and the Midwest

 Stories about seed funding often contain sappy metaphors about planting seedlings and nurturing them to maturity. In reality, it’s a brutally Darwinian business: most companies fail, successful ones get diluted and exits commonly take a decade or more. That said, seed also has the highest potential returns of any investment stage. Here are some trends we observed. Read More

Feedzai closes $50M Series C to help banks and merchants identify fraud with AI

 Feedzai is announcing a $50 million Series C this morning led by an unnamed VC with additional capital from Sapphire Ventures. The six year old startup builds machine learning tools to help banks and merchants spot payment fraud. In today’s rapidly maturing world of fintech, Feedzai is trying to thread the needle between turnkey solution and customizable platform. With 60 clients… Read More

Benchmark just funded a stealthy AI company founded by Qualcomm’s former head of R&D

 Nayeem Islam has spent the last eight years with chipmaker Qualcomm, where he founded its Silicon Valley-based R&D facility, recruited its entire team and oversaw research on all aspects of security, including applying analysis techniques like machine learning on mobile devices and in the network to detect threats early. Now Islam and a group of former execs have created their own company… Read More

Benchmark just funded a stealthy AI company founded by Qualcomm’s former head of R&D

 Nayeem Islam has spent the last eight years with chipmaker Qualcomm, where he founded its Silicon Valley-based R&D facility, recruited its entire team and oversaw research on all aspects of security, including applying analysis techniques like machine learning on mobile devices and in the network to detect threats early. Now Islam and a group of former execs have created their own company… Read More

a16z Podcast: Platforming the Future

In this hallway-style podcast conversation, O’Reilly Media founder Tim O’Reilly and a16z partner Benedict Evans discuss how we make sense of the most recent wave of new technologies — technologies that are perhaps more transformative than any we’ve seen before …

a16z Podcast: A New Lab Rises

We’ve already talked quite a bit about the Algorithms, Machines, and People lab at U.C. Berkeley (AMPLab) — all about making sense of big data — so what happens when the entire world moves towards artificial intelligence — …

ROSS Intelligence lands $8.7M Series A to speed up legal research with AI

 Armed with an understanding of machine learning, ROSS Intelligence is going after LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters for ownership of legal research. The startup is announcing an $8.7 million Series A today led by iNovia Capital with participation from Comcast Ventures Catalyst Fund, Y Combinator Continuity Fund, Real Ventures, Dentons’ NextLaw Labs and angels. Read More

ROSS Intelligence lands $8.7M Series A to speed up legal research with AI

 Armed with an understanding of machine learning, ROSS Intelligence is going after LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters for ownership of legal research. The startup is announcing an $8.7 million Series A today led by iNovia Capital with participation from Comcast Ventures Catalyst Fund, Y Combinator Continuity Fund, Real Ventures, Dentons’ NextLaw Labs and angels. Read More