Jul 25, 2017

A stealthy startup says it's building A.I. for robots

Vicarious, a seven-year-old startup in Silicon Valley startup working on artificial general intelligence, has raised $50 million Series C funding led by Khosla Ventures, bringing its total to $122 million.

A.I. for robots: What Vicarious is building is ambitious—artificial intelligence for robots, the kind you imagine with arms, that can box up orders in warehouses or help prepare food. According to co-founder and CEO D. Scott Phoenix, Vicarious's technology will be "super general and adaptable," enabling robots to use one skill, such as picking up an object, to do similar tasks.

Deployment: Vicarious is "on the cusp of starting to do field testing with customers," Phoenix tells Axios.

Though Phoenix declined to discuss the Vicarious's plans to showcase its technology, he did say it has plans to do additional demos later this year. It recently released a program that can play Atari and in 2013, it released one that can solve CAPTCHA.

Not a "science project:"

Vicarious has plenty of skeptics, of course. For one, its lack of extensive publication of papers is a red flag for some. Others point to the company's many years of stealthy research without releasing any products (yet), though Phoenix says that Vicarious has always planned to build commercial products. In fact, the $50 million it recently raised will be enough to get the company to product commercialization, he said in a bold statement. "From the very beginning we said, 'here are the things that we can apply A.I,'" he says. "But to get there you have to do a lot of applied research."

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 5,463,392 — Total deaths: 344,503 — Total recoveries — 2,195,325Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,653,904 — Total deaths: 97,948 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: Italy reports lowest number of new cases since February — Ireland reports no new coronavirus deaths on Monday for the first time since March 21 — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: New York stock exchange to reopen its floor on Tuesday — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Italy reports lowest number of new coronavirus cases since February

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Why it matters: Italy, the first country in Europe to implement a nationwide lockdown after emerging as a hotspot in March, appears to have finally weathered its coronavirus outbreak. Italy has reported nearly 33,000 total deaths, the third-highest total behind the U.S. and U.K.

Joe Biden makes first public appearance in over two months

Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in over two months on Monday to honor Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a Delaware veterans park, AP reports.

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