Jan 3, 2020

Snap continues its acquisition spree with video animation startup

Photo: DENIS CHARLET/AFP via Getty Images

Snapchat's parent company confirmed to Axios that it has acquired AI Factory, the Ukrainian startup it worked with to develop its new "Cameos" feature that maps selfies onto videos, deepfake-style, a deal first reported by Ukraine tech publication AIN.UA.

Why it matters: Snap has a long history of smartly acquiring small, innovative startups to feed its product development. In 2015, Snap acquired AI Factory founder Victor Shaburov's previous company, Looksery, to use its facial feature detection and manipulation tech as the basis for one of Snapchat's most successful features, "Lenses."

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Google CEO calls for balanced regulations on artificial intelligence

Photo: Carsten Koall/Getty Images.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai is calling for regulations on artificial intelligence, warning that the technology can bring both positive and negative consequences, AP reports.

Why it matters: Lawmakers are largely scrambling to play catch-up on AI regulation as the technology continues to grow. Pichai did not provide specific proposals, but did urge while speaking at the Bruegel European economic think tank Monday that "international alignment" between the United States and the European Union will help ensure AI is used primarily for good.

Go deeperArrowJan 20, 2020

Apple confirms purchase of AI startup Xnor.ai

Screenshot: Xnor.ai

Apple confirmed to Axios it has purchased Xnor.ai, a Seattle-based startup that specializes in putting artificial intelligence on devices rather than via centralized servers.

Why it matters: Doing AI work on devices is a key trend, especially for Apple, as it makes it easier to offer privacy protections. Apple, for example, does all of its automated tagging and categorization of photos on its devices.

Go deeperArrowJan 15, 2020

How Snapchat has dodged the techlash over speech issues

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel says his company has managed to avoid heavy criticism over speech issues by clearly dividing private, largely unregulated communications from heavily moderated public broadcasts.

Why it matters: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have all struggled in recent years over where to draw the line on permitted speech.

Go deeperArrowJan 21, 2020