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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Bay Area-based startup Primer is offering natural language processing (NLP) models for businesses that can rapidly read and analyze written text of all kinds.

Why it matters: NLP — machine-learning agents that comprehend and even write text — is one of the most exciting areas of AI research, and the new product points to a future when text-crunching AI will be available as a service, accelerating the technology's adoption.

How it works: Primer NLP Engines are pre-trained NLP models that can read and summarize long bodies of text, pulling out key concepts, recognizing and identifying individuals who might be mentioned, and identifying patterns and structures that might elude human readers.

  • For instance, a financial company might use Primer Engine to read masses of 10K regulatory filings, "with the aim of identifying all of the companies that have increasing competitive risk exposure to China," says Sean Gourley, Primer's CEO.
  • An intelligence agency might use a different Primer Engine to identify existing quotes from a foreign official, and then run a sentiment analysis on them — analyzing the quotes to indicate positive or negative sentiment.
  • Though the engines come pre-trained by Primer, the company can also work with clients to fine-tune the models for specific tasks or data sets.

What they're saying: "We're in the middle of a revolution with natural language processing right now," says Gourley. "That means a bunch of the reading and writing tasks that would have been done by humans can now be done by machines."

Between the lines: More important than the technical advances here are the business ones that will contribute to the spread of NLP applications.

  • Before, these kinds of NLP models "were done in a bespoke way by internal data science teams," says Gourley. "But now just as individual compute has been replaced by cloud computing, we can do the same thing with natural language processing."
We're going to see intelligence and insights emerge with a speed and scale that has previously not been accessible to us as humans, simply because we couldn't read enough.
— Sean Gourley, Primer

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Aug 10, 2021 - Technology

OpenAI's Codex turns written language into computer code

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

A new AI system can read written instructions in conversational language and transform it into working computer code.

Why it matters: The model is the latest example of progress in natural language processing, the ability of AIs to read and write text.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
28 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Jared Kushner wants to Trump-proof his private equity future

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Jared Kushner appears to have convinced the private equity market that he'll stick with his new firm, called Affinity Partners, even if his father-in-law returns to the White House.

The big picture: Private equity is littered with former presidential advisers and cabinet officials, and Trump's is proving to be no different.

58 mins ago - World

Ukraine president to Biden: "There are no minor incursions"

Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded on Thursday to President Biden's suggestion that a "minor incursion" by Russia may not draw the same response as a large invasion, which some in Kyiv saw as inviting Russian aggression.

What he's saying: "We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations. Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones. I say this as the President of a great power," Zelensky tweeted.

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