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Multiverse, the unicorn specializing in apprenticeships, acquires Searchlight with the intention of prioritizing artificial intelligence (AI)

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Multiverse is a unicorn company in the UK that helps people learn technology skills while they’re working. To improve its own skills, it has bought another company. The company acquired Searchlight, a startup that creates AI-based hiring and testing tools. Searchlight’s technology will be used to make new AI products for Multiverse so that it can offer more training services for businesses.

“Searchlight’s AI, platform, and exceptional talent will allow us to better diagnose the skills companies need and deliver impactful solutions,” said Euan Blair, founder and CEO of Multiverse. “Searchlight’s technology and team, along with our size and world-class learning, will help even more businesses and people.”

Kerry and Anna Wang, twin sisters, helped start Searchlight. Kerry is CEO, and Anna is CTO. Udemy, Zapier, Talkdesk, and other tech companies are already its customers, and Kerry said that they will continue to be treated until the end of their contracts. After that, Multiverse will stop using Searchlight’s job-seeking services so that it can focus on its own business.

The deal shows that AI is becoming more important for startups that work in both the work and school worlds. Some people use AI to get things done faster, while others say AI is taking over whole jobs. This purchase is related to another use of AI: edtech companies that focus on working situations want to use AI to make their professional training services more efficient so they can hire more people when positions open up. Their customers expect them to do so.

AI and hiring people have sometimes gone together in strange ways. Amazon famously had to get rid of an AI recruitment tool because it was naturally biased against women for technical jobs. This was because it was trained on typical recruitment data from men.

Searchlight’s CEO said that technology has come a long way since then, and people are more aware of how models are built and taught.

Wang said, “Our AI model can find a good fit for a role four times faster than a traditional interview.” She said that Searchlight was one of the first companies in the world to have its own AI models checked by a third party to make sure that the talent suggestions they made were fair. “We’re all trying to solve the same problem, which is making sure that everyone has equal access to economic opportunities.” Multiverse had a great business, but they want to grow into a platform for developing the whole workforce. Anna will be in charge of AI at Multiverse, and Kerry will be in charge of products.

Another thing you could think about is what role AI should play in learning and whether some of its effects are worse than good. Some people worry that if students rely too much on generative AI, it will be harder to tell what they are really learning. For example, students might use it to write articles or take tests. But in supplemental training settings, it can help tailor learning to each person’s needs on a large scale, and for some students, it can be more fun and interesting than more standard learning.

Blair started and runs Multiverse. Blair is the son of former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and famous barrister Cherie Booth Blair. The company has about 1,000 customers right now, including Cisco, government agencies, financial services companies, and oil and gas companies.

Multiverse first became known for apprenticeships as an option for people wanting to work in areas that change quickly, like technology. Since then, it has grown to include professional training for people who already have jobs.

Ujjwal Singh, the CTO and CPO of Multiverse, said that the company already has some AI-based services live. For example, it has a personalized AI assistant guide for users. Now it’s clear that it wants to keep adding more technology to the platform to make it better overall and build trust with customers who want to buy and use more modern services.

The deal’s terms are not being made public, but to give you an idea, the Wang sisters, who are both impressive and successful Stanford graduates, took their business through Y Combinator in 2018. But in times like these, those calling cards aren’t the only thing that determines which startups do well and which don’t.

Searchlight raised almost $20 million all together, mostly through a fundraiser from a few years ago and a $17 million Series A round in 2021. Accel, Founders Fund, Emerson Collective, and Shasta Ventures were just a few of the well-known backers on its long list. Pitchbook thought it was worth $64 million in 2021.

Multiverse, on the other hand, was last worth $1.7 billion in 2022. It has been raising money like crazy over the last few years, getting several hundred million dollars from backers like General Catalyst and Lightspeed. The first company the company bought was Eduflow, which was also a YC company. When I asked Singh how the startup would pay for this round and if it was in the process of raising more money, he said that it still had “plenty” of cash.

We think that buyers are “happy” with how things turned out. “From the beginning, Anna and Kerry have thought carefully about how to build Searchlight’s AI models to fit with their vision,” Keith Rabois, who led the Series A, told in a statement. Innovative businesses like Multiverse are drawn to Searchlight’s unique technology. What’s good about this deal for Searchlight and Multiverse? It makes me happy.

As Editor here at GeekReply, I'm a big fan of all things Geeky. Most of my contributions to the site are technology related, but I'm also a big fan of video games. My genres of choice include RPGs, MMOs, Grand Strategy, and Simulation. If I'm not chasing after the latest gear on my MMO of choice, I'm here at GeekReply reporting on the latest in Geek culture.

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Artificial Intelligence

Android’s latest Theft Detection Lock feature serves as a deterrent against smartphone thefts and snatch-and-grab incidents

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Imagine yourself engaged in your own affairs, seated on a park bench, gazing at your mobile device. Explosion. An individual seizes your device and swiftly flees with it. While Android and iOS devices do have certain security measures, what about the brief period of time when the phone is still unlocked? Is there a method available to remotely erase its data?

Burglars can obtain a substantial amount of information within that brief duration. Each moment is significant. During the Google I/O 2024 developer conference, Google unveiled a new feature for Android called Theft Detection Lock. This feature is specifically designed to safeguard against the increasing risk of theft. Once activated, the AI-driven function will automatically secure the device.

According to Google, if your phone detects a typical movement related to theft, it will rapidly lock the screen to prevent thieves from easily accessing your data. An instance of such a stimulus is a mechanism that abruptly initiates rapid motion in the opposite direction.

Google is implementing an offline device lock feature, specifically designed to safeguard the device in the event of intentional disconnection from the network. Occurrences such as consistently failing to authenticate the phone will activate that functionality.

The forthcoming update will also introduce functionality that enhances the level of difficulty for malefactors attempting to perform a remote factory reset on your device. According to Google, this upgrade prevents thieves from setting up a stolen device again without having knowledge of your device or Google account credentials, even if they force a reset. By rendering a stolen device unsellable, it diminishes the motivation for individuals to engage in phone theft.

Biometric authentication will be mandatory for modifying sensitive information while the device is connected from an unsecured location.

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As AI comes out, Google adds a “Web” search filter that shows old-school text links

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Google is undergoing a transformation to adapt to the AI era. As part of this, the company is now providing AI summaries directly in its search results. Additionally, Google is introducing a new feature that allows users to filter their search results to only display text-based links. The addition of the new “Web” filter at the top of the results page will allow users to specifically filter for text links, similar to how they can currently filter for images, video, news, or shopping.

The announcement was made on Tuesday through a post on X during Google I/O, the company’s developer conference. During the conference, Google introduced significant changes to its search engine, including AI-organized search results and AI overviews in search.

Google states that the new “Web” filter will be visible either at the top of the results page or within the “More” option, depending on the specific search query.

The launch acknowledges that there are instances when individuals simply desire to display text-based links to web pages, which are typically considered less significant nowadays as Google either provides answers directly in its informational Knowledge Panels or, more recently, through AI experiments.

The Google SearchLiaison X account is noted. The post stated that this addition was made in response to feedback from users who expressed a preference for seeing only web page links in their search results. This preference may arise when users are searching for longer-form text documents, using devices with limited internet access, or simply preferring text-based results to be displayed separately from search features. “If you belong to that particular group, I hope you have a pleasant experience!”

Google has specified that on mobile devices, the new “Web” filter will be displayed by default, along with the other filters, without necessitating users to access the “More” menu. On desktop, Google will display the filters that appear to be the most pertinent to the search results.

Google announced that the feature will be gradually released to users worldwide over the course of today and tomorrow.

The announcement of a “Web” filter is bound to spark some controversy, especially among the SEO community. These experts have always strived to enhance their links in order to secure a spot on the first page of Google search results for specific keywords. However, this type of SEO manipulation has potentially diminished the usefulness of Google compared to its early days. At that time, search experts weren’t manipulating the PageRank algorithm.

The move is a significant gamble that suggests the future of search may not revolve around presenting website links. Instead, users may find the answers they are looking for in alternative forms of content or even AI responses that provide sources for those who want to explore the topic in more depth. It is yet to be determined how these changes will impact industries that heavily depend on clicks and visitors.

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Artificial Intelligence

New 3D displays are coming out from Looking Glass

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Looking Glass produces immersive mixed-reality displays that create a three-dimensional visual experience without the requirement of specialized eyewear. Today, it introduces two new displays, one of which is a 16-inch model priced at $4,000. Additionally, there is a 32-inch screen available, which comes with a price tag that is intentionally kept high to deter those who cannot afford it from inquiring about its cost. The displays are offered in both landscape and portrait orientations, allowing for increased versatility to accommodate various content formats and applications.

The price of the previous 15-inch model was $6,000, thus indicating a slight decrease in prices. Additionally, a few years ago, the company unveiled a $350 holographic digital photo frame along with software that enables the enhancement of your vacation photos to produce a three-dimensional effect.

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The new displays offer stunning group 3D visualization without the need for headsets. This means that professionals working with 3D content can get things done without having to deal with the hassle and fatigue of wearing extra hardware. The company says that its products are made for professionals in design, engineering, education, research, and healthcare who need cutting-edge visualization tools.

The new displays, along with the recently announced Looking Glass Go, complete the company’s range of space-related products. Looking Glass Go turns 2D photos into 3D memories, but the bigger formats are better for XR developers and professionals.

Groups can view the content, which is another advantage of these displays. This is especially useful when working together. The business says that up to 100 different people can use the content at the same time.

The screens can show a lot of different types of media, like holographic images, high-quality videos, and real-time apps. They also have gesture-based controls that make the experience even more immersive without having to touch the computer screen.

Looking Glass has many ways to make content, such as plugins for Unity, Unreal, Blender, and WebXR. It also comes with a software development kit and a 3D model importer for making your own holographic content.

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