Facebook had a busy November in Africa as it continues to scale up its efforts to assist SMEs on the continent.
In Lagos, the company partnered local incubator CcHub to launch a space for Nigerian entrepreneurswhile it also joined forces with local startup Tizeti to expand its Express Wi-Fi service in the country.
Facebook also announced it had launched its Nigerian SME Council, the first of its kind to launch on the continent. The company is not the only major multinational tech firm getting more involved in the African startup space, with Google picking three companies from the continent to take part in its Launchpad accelerator in November.
A black Friday
A host of Africa-based ecommerce sites buckled under the pressure of Black Friday towards the end of the month, most notably South African market leader Takealot, which had to be taken down.
Nonetheless, ecommerce activity is hotting up on the continent, with Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom the latest to join the party with the launch of online store Masoko. Existing companies are also tweaking their offerings, including the pan-African Jumia, which launched physical shops for its travel service and also launched beverage-ordering service Jumia Party.
In other interesting news, Ghana is launching a digital addressing systemfuneral cover can now be purchased via mobile in South Africaand Kenya has an online auction platform.
Buyouts and funding
November saw a couple of notable acquisitions in the African tech space, with Kenyan HR company Shortlist buying edtech company Spire Education. Meanwhile, in South Africa, on-demand deliveries startup WumDrop was acquired by Makro.
The most notable funding round of the month went to pan-African fintech company JUMO, which raised US$24 million to help it expandwhile Ghanaian e-health company mPharma also raised big — to the tune of US$6.6 million.
There were also funding rounds for Egypt’s EventtusKenya’s Sendyand South African companies i-PayDigital Cabinet, and RecoMed. In Somalia, local accelerator and fund Innovate Ventures pumped cash into five local startups. And that’s your lot.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author’s own and not necessarily shared by TNW.
For roughly three hours Tuesday, senators laid into executives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter about Russia’s attempts to spread disinformation using social media. Lawmakers pressed the tech giants for failing to stop voter suppression, not detecting Russian operatives paying for ads in rubles, and the terrifying power they possess over American politics. Then, lawmakers touted their efforts—on Facebook and Twitter, of course.
Many didn’t wait until the end of the Senate subcommittee hearing, with aides who are social-media whizzes tweeting and retweeting their bosses’ tough stands on big tech in real time. Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana pointedly asked Facebook’s general counsel, “Do you have a profile on me?” and then posted a clip of him asking the question on his Facebook page. Sen. Lindsey Graham, the committee chairman who called the hearing, tweeted a link to a YouTube video of his opening remarks, “ICYMI.”
This inescapable power dynamic between dominant social networks and their users is sometimes mistaken for hypocrisy or irony, rather than what it is: an economic reality. Facebook and Twitter have become essential tools of political communication. When Russia Today and Sputnik were banned from advertising on Twitter as agents of Russian propaganda, they complained about the ruling on Twitter. When Gab, the right-wing social network, wanted to point out the hypocrisy of Twitter’s testimony today, it also did so on Twitter.
Those are companies, and the senators who grilled social-media executives on Tuesday are powerful political actors who are trying to prevent bad actors from undermining democracy again. Yet when Graham found out that 126 million people on Facebook saw election-rated disinformation from Russian operatives, not 10 million as Facebook reported earlier, he shared the news on his Facebook page, not in a press release or on his Senate webpage.
Graham is well aware of the issue. He began his remarks quoting Donald Trump saying he wouldn’t be president without social media. “I would dare say that every politician up here asking you questions uses your service,” said Graham, “and we find it invaluable to communicate with our constituents and get our message out.” Sure they do. What other choice do they have?
Researchers for Facebook’s AI labs lately entered their bot into a StarCraft opposition. Listed here, we’ll discuss about how they did, and why it is significant.
When I was a child, movie online games were being for little ones. For the most section, that was the paradigm, and every single movie activity ad in print or movie realized it.
As I grew up, nevertheless, all of that transformed. Online games for adults hit the sector, and this has branched out into the competitive sphere with the eSports phenomenon (check out out these strategies on currently being a improved competitive gamer below).
See the disparity below? I assume there’s an clear various age group currently being qualified.
Now, movie online games are the inspiration for several of today’s technologists, and in a superb twist of destiny, they are currently being utilised as teaching grounds for the future of AI technological innovation. Just about every tech big from Google to Apple has dipped their fingers into the AI boom that has occur with Marketplace 4..
That features social media giants as well, thoughts you. Fb has their arms on some AI study, you might don’t forget this fiasco from July when Facebook’s chat AI invented its very own language.
Program has been applying online games for teaching for a long time. For instance, IBM’s computer Deep Blue conquer a entire world winner in chess back again in 1997.
Online games are a great environment to train AI how to make judgement phone calls, in particular when it arrives to human habits. In simple fact, judgement is anything that has come to be a vital part of modern day AI study. You can see it in anything from AI that can help diagnose most cancers sufferers to self-driving cars that really do not get perplexed by decals.
So far, nevertheless, the finest activity I have observed AI perform still has been Blizzard’s StarCraft.
A StarCraft Tournament With a Twist
Teaching AI to perform online games is some very critical business. That currently being mentioned, it is also very enjoyable, in particular when it arrives in the variety of a StarCraft match for AI called The AIIDE StarCraft AI Level of competition.
It is an interesting match, in which the real opposition isn’t exactly the activity by itself but how well the programmers have designed their automatic gamers. So, it is like eSports, but the gamers really do not use shirts (so they really do not have to just take them off).
And the finest section? Fb quietly slipped into the opposition unannounced with an AI called CherryPi.
Despite their the latest significant announcement of assistance for the Canadian Institute for Highly developed Research (CIFAR), we have not read much too a lot about Facebook’s very own AI study until finally now.
Now that we’ve observed how CherryPi did at AIIDE, we know a little bit a lot more. The bot arrived in sixth position in general (out of 28), but opponents did remark that it had distinctive reactions.
Dan Gant, a software program hobbyist whose bot PurpleWave positioned next, mentioned that CherryPi had a keen comprehending of motion speeds inside of the activity. When most bots innovative or retreated based on relative quantities, CherryPi was various.
“CherryPi appeared to know when it could move rapid plenty of to sneak about an enemy to attack its base,” mentioned Gant.
So, okay, it didn’t gain, but that comment is very interesting mainly because it reveals us that CherryPi ‘thinks’ a little bit unconventionally, at least when StarCraft is worried.
This is in which issues get seriously interesting because it reveals us how this tiny opposition could have significant implications for the course that AI study is heading in.
Is there a improved teaching floor for AI than StarCraft? #no #AIIDE #CherryPiClick To Tweet
What StarCraft has to do With Predictive AI
Authentic-time approach online games like StarCraft require a ton of snap judgement. StarCraft took up a ton of my teenage many years, so I like to assume that I know what I’m chatting about.
Snap judgements, as researchers have occur to discover, are very really hard to plan. To put it into perspective, when Deep Mind wins at chess, or Google’s AI AlphaGo wins at Go (study about that below), they have time to run by all the variables.
When you perform a activity like StarCraft, you have to make selections on the fly. As I can attest, that can put tension on your potential to strategy issues out. For me, at least, the only way to get improved is to perform a lot more, so you can get utilised to dealing with conditions on the fly.
Several of us discover kinesthetically, or by contact and with encounter, like with driving cars. Learning how to do these issues arrives naturally to us, but not so a lot for AI. That is why deep understanding platforms have come to be so significant to AI study.
I received very very good at StarCraft, myself, but that was just after many years of observe. Possibly that is why I’m very amazed with CherryPi, even nevertheless it concluded in sixth position in its to start with ever contest.
#FacebookAI #CherryPi 6th position in AIIDE StarCraft opposition, 2,049 wins out of 2,966 matches.Click To Tweet
See, CherryPi isn’t like the other bots in the opposition. It is understanding, and I would not be astonished if it arrives back again with a improved displaying upcoming year–just like AlphaGo received way improved just after just a year.
What do you assume AI will be utilised for when it can make predictions like a human? Let us know in the comments under!