Summary List Placement
Tel Aviv-based startup AI21 Labs raised $25 million in Series A funding, according to an announcement Thursday, as the startup looks to scale its artificial intelligence-backed writing companion.
The round was led by Pitango First, the unit within Israel venture capital giant Pitango that focuses on early-stage funding. AI21 Labs did not disclose the valuation after this round, but PitchBook listed it as $18 million following the startup’s seed round in 2019. Overall, it has raised $34.5 million in outside funding.
AI21 came out of stealth mode in October with WordTune, an AI-backed writing assistant that helps users improve their text. It’s led by noted machine learning researchers Ori Goshen and Yoav Shoham who both have a long histories as entrepreneurs. Shoham, for example, sold two companies to Google: Katango in 2013 and Timeful in 2015, both for undisclosed sums. After the last sale, he came onboard with Google as a principal scientist until 2017.
As someone who has been involved with artificial intelligence technology from its boom through the early 1980s, to the so-called winter in the 1990s, and again to the surge in interest happening now, Shoham sees an opportunity for AI to finally fulfill many of the promises that researchers have made over the past few decades.
Back then, “there wasn’t rich data,” he told Business Insider. “There certainly wasn’t the compute power of today. The methods were quite crude. And so there were over-promises and the backlash that followed. Now, it’s the mirror image. There’s endless compute power, and a ton of data, and zero semantics.”
At AI21, the duo is helping to perfect natural language processing — what Shoham calls the “next frontier” of AI. It’s one of the industry’s hottest fields that aims to replicate how humans read, speak, and write. Alongside WordTune, there are startups that help automate operations like customer service or more quickly scan documents like analyst notes for pertinent information.
It’s also an area that is seeing major activity from the open source community. LexisNexis has an AI tool for legal research, for example, based on Google’s open-source language model known as BERT. And OpenAI made waves earlier this year when it released, to much fanfare, a new language generator called GPT-3 that is now being used as a foundation for new startups like OthersideAI.
GPT-3 “is very good for what it does,” said Shoham. But “as soon as you try to do something real with it, you fall flat.”
With WordTune, AI21 Labs is trying to fill the current gaps its founders see in the market. While language models have been effective in helping users write — think Grammarly, an AI-backed browser plug-in that can aids users in word choice and tone, among other use cases — Shoham says that hasn’t evolved enough to provide deeper, more intelligent assistance.
WordTune provides samples of alternative ways that sentences can be written with the same meaning, which could give users options they never considered. It can also provide substitutes that are …read more
Source:: Businessinsider – Tech