Ranging from a lack of women in leadership positions to disparities in pay, gender discrimination remains a significant problem in the technology industry. Google is now aiming to improve its practices, announcing this week that it is changing the way its Translate service approaches the issue. When producing translations in languages where words have multiple gender options, such as Spanish or Turkish, its technology has too often adopted widespread industry biases - giving “strong” or “doctor” the masculine form, while giving “beautiful” or “nurse” the feminine form, for example. Now the tech giant has announced it will give users both options for such translations. The move is part of a broader push to reduce bias in machine learning technology, including in facial recognition and crime analysis.
Companies around the world are increasingly using intelligent spacing technology to create “digital twins” that virtually represent physical spaces and surveying, construction and exhibit halls are just a few of the areas that stand to benefit. Industry leader NavVis says digital twin technology is growing so fast that the entire sector could be worth more than $15 billion by 2023. In fact, the German firm announced this week it has already raised $35.5 million. NavVis’ digital twin system uses location-based apps that employ AI-powered positioning technology to produce detailed mapping and 3D visualizations. Its interactive platform also encourages user collaboration, which it says helps to improve strategy decisions as well as day-to-day operations. “Our mission is now to empower every enterprise with the easiest and most powerful way to build and operate their own digital twin to the fullest potential,” said CEO and co-founder Felix Reinshagen.
Korean payment app Toss has seen its popularity explode since launching in 2015. The app, a product of startup Viva Republica, came up with a way to side-step South Korea’s cumbersome online payment system by allowing users to make payments and transfers in just three steps. Toss now boasts more than 10 million users and has since expanded to include credit, loan, insurance and investment services. Viva Republica highlighted their app’s growth by announcing this week they have raised $80 million in new funding. The investment puts the company at a valuation of $1.2 billion, making it just the fourth unicorn startup in the country. Viva Republica, which has raised $200 million to date, says it plans to use the funds to establish a securities brokerage business and expand across Southeast Asia.
Plant-based diets are more popular than ever, but enjoying meals that champion high-quality meat alternatives often requires ordering online or visiting vegan restaurants. That’s about to change for residents of Halifax, Canada, where Real Fake Meats is set to open its doors next week. The city’s first vegan butcher shop focuses on home cooking and is owned by Lauren Marshall, a seasoned chef who uses a variety of ingredients and cooking techniques to create tasty vegetable-based versions of bacon, turkey, beef and even cheese. Real Fake Meats started as an online store in May, but demand has been so high that the company decided to open a brick-and-mortar location as well. Opening just in time for the holidays, the shop eventually hopes to offer ready-made food items as well as products for wholesale.
Blackberry announced this week it is launching a service to help connect vehicles with smart city infrastructure. The mobile communications giant said it is “helping the private and public sectors come together” by offering the technology, which will debut in Canada, without service fees to automakers and public authorities. While Blackberry has been tight-lipped on the details, the idea of the service is to provide a secure mechanism for vehicles to share information with city infrastructure, such as traffic lights. Blackberry, a leader in tech security, said that having a safe way to transmit traffic data is necessary for the public and civil authorities to feel assured the information they receive is trustworthy. This will become even more important as city streets become increasingly populated by driverless cars. “By removing barriers such as security, privacy, and cost,” said CEO John Chen, Blackberry’s new service “will help accelerate the many smart city and connected vehicle pilot programs taking place around the world.”