Weekend update: Firing virtual employees, San Francisco startup investments, Lyft goes public and deep learning changes the world

An enlightening synopsis of the most interesting, relevant and engaging news, analysis and interviews published by the Innovation Enterprise team over the last seven days


It has been a week of difficult conversations as we watched on the sidelines as issues of equality once more hit the headlines. After we reported a few weeks back that female tech leaders were out-earning men for the first time, a Glassdoor survey sadly revealed that the gender pay gap could prevail until 2070, with women in the US making $0.79 for every dollar their male counterparts earn. Facebook was in our good books for the first time in a while, however, when it announced it will begin blocking white nationalist and separatist content from Facebook and Instagram, instead directing those searching for offending terms to a brilliant non-profit founded by former extremists called Life After Hate .

Meanwhile, the EU's new copyright law has faced heavy criticism for its potential to favor tech giants as it pushes out smaller players, with Julia Reda, MEP for the German Pirate Party, tweeting that it was "a dark day for the internet". And Apple signaled it will be taking in a new direction in the wake of flagging iPhone sales when it announced it is launching a credit card built into the Apple Wallet.

Below, we highlight some of our other favorite stories, interviews and analysis from across our Channels.

Investment ramps up in San Francisco

Over the past few years, San Francisco has proven itself time and time again to be an incredibly accommodating home for startups (exactly why we chose it as the location for our next DATAx festival in May). It helps that it also houses a number of investors hungry for the latest innovative tech, and, this week, the world of San Francisco startup investment ramped up a gear.

Bouyant, the creator of open source service mesh Linkerd, enjoyed a $10m boost in an investment round led by GV, raising the total amount the company has raised to $24m that it plans to use to drive Linkerd's feature velocity and community growth. Meanwhile, Mursion, a startup that provides immersive VR training to tackle workplace bias and nurture emotional intelligence in workers, announced its Series A funding round had raised $8m.

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DATAx presents: How deep learning is impacting the world in 2019

As autonomy becomes the new normal, machine learning (ML) and AI are starting to inhabit commonplace terminology – however, less is known about an incredibly effective branch of AI: Deep learning. So DATAx took a closer look at the impact deep learning is having on the world today .

From self-driving cars to endless healthcare applications, deep learning uses algorithms to rank and categorize elements of unstructured data, much like the way a human brain processes information. Unfortunately, in this age of "fake news", the most famous use of deep learning is in the creation of "deepfakes", where the technology is used to create fake pornographic videos – with real, non-consenting individual's faces supplanted on the X-rated videos.

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Transformation or termination: The issues facing tomorrow's workforce

With AI fast becoming our newest (welcome or not) colleague, workplaces are looking toward a future which will see mass displacement and mass re-training as workers today transform into the workers of tomorrow. Contributor Paul Heald explores how we plan for this eventuality.

"To prepare for this new reality, professionals will need to embrace continuous learning, adapt to new technologies and sharpen soft skills that will never be fully automated," writes Heald. "Technology skills and tools will be core to professional livelihoods, and the speed at which those skills are put to use will lead to new opportunities for professionals and businesses alike."

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Lyft beats expectations (and Uber) to value $20bn ahead of IPO

Despite earlier estimates suggesting Lyft would hit IPO with shares priced at as little as $62, the ride-hailing giant has revealed that its IPO will see the company valued at $20bn, with shares costing $72 apiece.

The news confirms that Lyft has beaten its main competitor, Uber, to public market following a close race. However, earlier this week, Uber acquired Careem, its Dubai-based rival, for $3.1bn, suggesting it is gearing up to announce its IPO very soon, with some estimates putting its value at a whopping $120bn.

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How pharma companies are applying ML to patient data

The rise of big data in healthcare has been particularly notable, and one of the most effective ways it can be applied to help patients is through utilizing ML to study public health trends and prevent health crises. Tech and science expert Gary Eastwood investigates this trend.

"Most of the pharma companies that are interested in patient data are using ML to detect notable patterns in a hue data set," notes Eastwood. "Whereas human experts can only manage so much information at once, these complicated algorithms can conquer an entire data set in seconds to churn out useful insights that may save lives or point researchers in the direction of a new cure."

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Uniting VR and AI to supercharge HR practices

Letting go of employees is every manager's least favorite part of their role. It is also a very difficult situation to train, which is why Talespin have used VR and AI to create a virtual employee, 'Barry', so that people canpractice firing workers, training soft skills and emotional intelligence in the process.

"If we could make a VR termination feel real, and show people where they made mistakes, or successfully navigated the scenario, then we knew we were on the right track," Talespin CEO Kyle Jackson told us in an exclusive interview on our Channels.

As brilliant and innovative as this is, we cannot help but feel sorry for poor old Barry, who simply can't hold down a job, even if he is just a few lines of code…

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