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Humans + Algorithms: Best Friends Forever?

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INTRO INTRO The technological singularity, that "hypothetical future point in time when artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence and be able to self-replicate and improve itself autonomously" is no longer hypothetical. In any case, they'rebecoming more and more numerous, this "nerd nation," as their prince Marc Andreessen likes to call them, considering them eminent, and even preparing for their reign. Like the police and the thieves who pursue eachother, humans and robots challenge each other, but no longer only at chess, like Kasparov and Deep Blue. Tomorrow, we will no longer differentiate between a powerful machine (who will, of course, borrow Scarlett Johansson's voice in Her) and Turing and his test. This is a prominent trend in our crowdfunding trendwatch this trimester. But just like in Terminator, resistance is activating, and in Hot Off the Crowd, one can see the growth of the sensitive human being, like for example, since the advent of the Internet, the increase of hand-written letters. We return to the operator of the speaking clock that wakes us up in the morning (Remember Aurore, in one of my favorite films, well before Her). Also at work here: if Uber uberizes us and one day replaces drivers with robots, and if tomorrow, as LinkedIn predicts, we are all self-employed, then new services should accompany this revolution of the workplace. This edition of HOTC newly reinforces one of FABERNOVEL's most tenacious convictions, and serves our mission of "distributing the future in the most equitable way." The human beings who constitute our teams remain better than robots and their algorithms, and we hope –because we are optimists – that they become our best friends. And while someone may still ask if androids dream of electric sheep, there's no doubt about human "startupers": they dream about Goliath's fall. It's this very human side that characterizes our latest trend: one always finds gentle entrepreneurs to create the next social network. Stéphane Distinguin CEO FABERNOVEL Group


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SUMMARY Ex Machina _ Human After All _ Remote Work _ Rise of the Contractor Ecosystem _ Better Call My Startup _ Reality Live Stream _ The Return of the Facebook Killers


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Ex Machina


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EX MACHINA CAN YOU PREDICT THIS IS AN ALGORITHM? The Turing Test is obsolete. Algorithms are the new biggest manufacturing secret of the connected era. The tasks algorithms now manage were until recently considered as chiefly human due to their dependence on communication skills or deep knowledge of financial institutions or creativity - all skills that would seem difficult to replicate. Yet algorithmic science keeps expanding artificial intelligence by copying the human brain mechanism. And some companies aim at going further. Why should you pay attention to it? The advent of algorithms is repositioning human thinking. Can there be a limit to algorithmic expansion expansion? The science fiction vision of a world dominated by machines seems to be fast becoming reality. Algorithmic reseacrh is not limited to GAFA: many startups break into this lucrative market of predictive algorithms, as we can see on CrunchBase, AngelList, etc.


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EX MACHINA HELLO, IT'S NOT ME Three projects stood out on our favorite crowdfunding and crowdsourcing platforms. These projects seem to challenge human skills with predictive analytics. Kensho is a cloud-based AI system. Backed by Goldman Sachs and Google Ventures, Kensho is capable of answering complex financial questions asked in natural language in real-time, such as "which Apple supplier's share price goes up the most when the company releases a new iPad?" Blab is a predictive social intelligence platform that enables brands to know what customers of a specific brand will talk about on what platforms in the next few days. Crystal is a new email advice service which claims to know how you like to be spoken to. It offers guidance on how to speak, write, and sell something to the targeted person.


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Human After All


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ERSATZ HUMAN Robots and algorithms may be taking over the world but some new services underline their technical and emotional shortcomings. Despite the astronomic rise of algorithms, there remain tasks for which computers offer at best a mediocre alternative to human labor. In these areas, human touch is still considered important - but not too important, since we are ready to delegate it to outside services. For instance, Fountain Greetings turns your typed text into handwritten letters, like a computersimulated scriveners. The value of the human touch is shifting from "usefulness" to "nostalgia". As the divide between our expectation of "human touch" and machines' capacity to provide this emotional element narrows, the necessity for human labor in these areas will wane. HUMAN AFTER ALL Why should you pay attention? The projects we have found do not prove that human is better, in the Promethean sense - it could even be the contrary. Instead, what they do is re-create interpersonal relationships, mutual help between strangers. Their assumption: the service could be used if it is human - all too human.


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WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM STRANGERS HUMAN AFTER ALL eAngel offers a Gmail plugin that provides proofreading and grammatical correction for email. Their conviction: nothing can replace a human brain. Wakie is a social alarm clock that provides a human wake-up call from a member of the community — a total stranger. Spare5 gives small paid tasks to the users of its app who have spare time, such as tagging pictures - a chore still too complex for a machine to carry out, but for how long?


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Remote Work


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REMOTE WORK HOME NOT ALONE Work conditions are going through an important period of changes because nowadays, an increasing number of people want to work remotely. The number of jobs which are unattached to a specific physical space is growing, and these jobs benefit from an expanding range of dedicated services. Consequently, plenty of new projects have emerged. Classically, there are some job boards specializing in remote work opportunities. But we also observe that dedicated newsletters, productivity tools, and even a kind of community spirit have developped. Apparently, jobs and place of work are not the same anymore. Why should you pay attention to it? At the start, only the tech-heavy professional circle was affected but the trend has spread thanks to the high correlation in location and cost of living. This phenomenon shows a paradox of modern living: physical proximity has become more valuable whereas technology and transportation have made connections across long distances cheaper. And it creates a brand new ecosystem with its own actors and services.


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OFFICE NOT REQUIRED Remote work is booming, and job boards are the first resource for workers looking to find a gig that will give them this crucial flexibility. We Work Remotely is a catchall of remote jobs from customer service to web design to programming. It hosts remote opportunities at some of the hottest tech companies. WorkingNomads delivers a curated list of remote jobs right to your inbox. Remote work also appeals to venture capital firms. Andreessen Horowitz has invested in Teleport, which compares startup cities. It aims at helping a community of mobile workers to find the jobs and places that maximize their quality of life, based on their pay and interests. It introduces itself as a « life search engine ». Remote Year allows participants to travel to12 different locations in a year to give them the opportunity to connect with business ecosystems. They offer workspace, activites, and events in each city. REMOTE WORK There are more and more tools for remote workers, like Remotive, a specialized newsletter, Airety, an online hiring tool for tech companies and Deekit, an online whiteboard for remote teams. All these services point to the emergence of a unique remote work ecosystem.


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Rise of the Contractor Ecosystem


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THE RISE OF CONTRACTOR ECOSYSTEM YOUR JOB, YOUR RIGHTS As we can see above, work is currently changing: by 2020, independent workers will make up 40% of the workforce in the United States. People will have more and more control over when, where and how they work. More freedom means more responsibilities, but also more precariousness: what about job security or working tools? More and more services rely on an army of contractors on the field, such as Uber, Instacart (delivery of groceries) or even TaskRabbit (marketplace for small tasks). Why should you pay attention to it? An ecosystem of complementary services rises to serve contractors, who are free but lacking any kind of safety net. These services help them to find gigs and rent out their working tools. There are also some services supporting startups in their hiring processes.


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RISE OF CONTRACTOR ECOSYSTEM LEGALIZE IT Checkr runs background checks automatically and makes pre-employment background screening fast, legal and ethical: they are compliant with state and federal employment laws. Zen99 provides support services for independent contractors, starting with taxes management and insurance. Burst finds on-demand jobs and gigs in a users' area.


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BETTER CALL MY STARTUP


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BETTER CALL MY STARTUP LEGAL ON DEMAND Thanks to crowdsourcing, automation and smart data, a significant number of startups have started to offer legal support to individuals and companies, making reliable legal resources a commodity. Individuals and companies are increasingly able to access simplified, fast, and cheap legal resources with contract templates, lawyers on demand, etc. For instance, in case of flight cancellation, denied boarding, or long flight delay, FlightRight renders enforcement of customers' compensation claim for a share of the amount collected from the airline. Why should you pay attention to it? Many companies are fighting - consciously or not - for the democratization of legal services, prompting us to become increasingly litigious. Meanwhile, white-shoe law firms will move up the value chain by offering premium advice. What could be the next step? We may imagine crowdsourced advice, a robot lawyer or even data law firms.


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BUSINESS TO BUSINESS More and more legal startups place themselves at the service of individuals and other startups. A company needs a legal aid, but a lawyer may cost too much. Captain Contrat is a startup that offers several categories of legal documents and also the help of a real lawyer. Combining the convenience of a handshake and the protection of a legal agreement, Shake is a technology platform making the law accessible, understandable and affordable for consumers and small businesses. BETTER CALL MY STARTUP Specifically intended for startups, Clerky provides a form library designed for venture-backed technology companies. Founded by Daniel van Binsberger, Lexoo is a digital market for legal services. It brings lawyers with big-firm experience and expertise to the service of midsize companies speedily and at a significant discount.


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Reality Live Stream


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CAM INTO MY LIFE Meerkat, the livestream application, and Periscope, its Twitter-owned competitor, were the talk of SxSW 2015. Far from only fulfilling information or even social networking purposes, livestreaming is deeply intertwined with boredom, as a form of real-time entertainment. It replaces fake "Reality" TV personalities with "real" people, who are the novelty promised by livestreaming. For instance, Watchme24, introduced as an "uncut reality live", livestreams private lives of families in Israel. They live their routine lives and anyone can watch. REALITY LIVE STREAM Why should you pay attention? Livestreaming represents a breakthrough in the field of online content sharing. We all remember the fund raising of Twitch, the video live stream platform for gamers. But why? First of all, its growth is due to convenience: the ability to watch on the device of your choice, wherever you are in the world, particularly since the uptake of smartphones. Leave nothing to chance: startups profit from this increase of livestreamed content with a collaborative approach. And don't underestimate them. Streaming viewers become more than spectators, they become learners and are free to switch places and become livestreamers themselves.


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BETTER CALL MY STARTUP I WILL SHOW YOU More than just entertainment, livestreaming can also be a medium for collaborative learning, as it enables viewers to watch and interact with people doing things in real time. Watch People Code provides livestreams of people who are coding from the channel /r/WatchPeopleCode on reddit. In the same way, Live Coding, known as Twitch for Coders, is a livestreaming platform where people code products. It aims at connecting professional engineers, students and hobby coders around programming languages. Livestreaming could be extended to any field. In the arts, Watch Me Work streams people's processes, creating an online creative coworking space that supports learning via a collaboration environment. Chew allows users to watch the best DJs perform live so that they can "learn from the best". In the financial sphere, Ticker, launched in December 2014,has produced over 25,000 hours of viewed content for an investors-only community.


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The Return of the Facebook Killers


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THE RETURN OF THE FACEBOOK KILLERS SWEET DREAM AND RUNNING GAG Many challengers have emerged since Facebook rose to power in the social networking world. These challengers have a shared focus on reclaiming ownership from advertisers and giving it back to users. They claim themselves as Facebook Killers, like Ello: this social network signed a legally-binding charter never to sell ads or data. Based on love and respect between communities, its founders believe that a social network should not be "a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate". Ello is basically a fail. Why should you pay attention? For these "Facebook killers", a balance of power seems to appear. We seek a new era of user empowerment against big business but none of these alternative social networks has ever succeeded. We may wonder why there are still new challengers throwing down the gauntlet every month. What additional value do they create? A technical, a social, or an economic one?


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THE RETURN OF THE FACEBOOK KILLERS NOT THE SAME PLAYERS Launched in 2014 at Inside Bitcoins Tel Aviv, Gems is a cryptocurrency-based project. Its founders aim at disrupting social networking business through the power of crypto 2.0 technology and the decentralization of the network. Tsu shares 90% of its advertising revenues with all of its users in royalties, enabling its users to maintain ownership of the content they post. The more the content is shared, the more money a user earns. At the moment, the invite-only platform has garnered 3.5 million users who are musicians, artists and everyday social media users. Minds is an open source social network supported by the hacker collective Anonymous. This social network vows more transparency, security and privacy than other social media giants by encrypting all messages, so that they can not be read by advertisers or governments.


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