Watch: How Women Can Build Confidence in a Virtual World

Annie Burford

Annie Burford is dot.LA's director of events. She's an event marketing pro with over ten years of experience producing innovative corporate events, activations and summits for tech startups to Fortune 500 companies. Annie has produced over 200 programs in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City working most recently for a China-based investment bank heading the CEC Capital Tech & Media Summit, formally the Siemer Summit.

Watch: How Women Can Build Confidence in a Virtual World

The latest edition of our dot.LA Convenes series, devoted to empowering women in tech, focused on "Building Confidence in a Virtual World."

dot.LA Convenes: Building Confidence in a Virtual Worldyoutu.be



As movements such as Times Up and Me Too gain in popularity, examples of women using their voices in the workplace have taken center stage. With all this attention on these issues, why is it that we still struggle with self assurance to stand up for ourselves? Why is it more difficult to find the same confidence our male counterparts easily exude in workplace interactions — especially in male-dominated industries like tech?

Challenges around self-censorship have only increased during the pandemic with financial security at stake and working from home making it more difficult to have authentic interactions. We seek to foster an honest dialogue and discuss specific strategies to combat them.

Esports One COO and Co-Founder Sharon Winter, Vurbl Media Co-founder, CEO Audra Everett Gold, and Valence Head of Partnerships Victoria Tinsley held in in-depth discussion on the topic, led by dot.LA Chief Host & Correspondent Kelly O'Grady.

Victoria Tinsley, head of partnerships at Valence

Victoria Tinsley, Head of Partnerships at Valence

Victoria Tinsley is the Head of Partnerships at Valence, a new tech platform and community incubated by Upfront Ventures focused on connecting Black professionals with mentorship, career opportunities and capital. The company's mission is to unlock the global combined power of Black professionals to create massive economic wealth and social progress that impacts current and future generations. Valence was founded in January 2019 and has a thriving membership of thousands of Black leaders across the nation. Valence also partners with a variety of organizations such as PledgeLA, Netflix, Facebook, USC, The Gathering Spot and Silicon Valley Bank.

Prior to joining Valence, Victoria served on the marketing senior leadership team at AAA as vice president, consumer insights & data analytics. In this role, she led the analytics center of excellence that supported four divisions (Insurance, Membership, Travel, A3 Labs) representing over $4 billion in annual revenue.

A traditionally trained CPG marketer, Victoria also previously worked at General Mills managing product development and marketing strategy for the Annie's Homegrown, Immaculate Baking Company and Pillsbury brands. Prior to earning her MBA at the Michigan Ross School of Business, Victoria held a variety of marketing roles during her 7 years at Active Network, a tech startup that had a successful $1 billion IPO and sale.

Audra Everett Gold, co-founder and CEO at Vurbl Media

Audra Everett Gold, Co-founder and CEO at Vurbl Media

Audra Gold has dedicated her entire career to building first to market and scaled mass media digital products. Her passion for product management and her ability to identify new and emerging product trends has led to her reputation for developing novel, cutting-edge products across gaming, streaming video, digital media, enterprise SaaS platforms, in various business verticals.

Today, as the founder of Product N, a product management consulting and recruitment firm, Audra and her team work with early-stage ventured funded start-ups in various verticals to create, launch and grow their digital products. The team also works in partnership with the VC firm Alpha Edison, helping AE portfolio companies in need of product management expertise to either create, expand or pivot their digital product lines.

Prior to Product N, Audra has spent years leading Product teams at Rubicon Project, The Mighty, Pluto TV, Fourthwall Studios and Defy Media (formerly Break Media). She also held senior product roles at WeddingChannel/TheKnot, Viviendi Universal's online division, and IGN.com.

Sharon WInter, COO and co-founder of Esports One

Sharon Winter, COO and Co-Founder of Esports One

Sharon Winter is the COO and Co-Founder of Esports One, the first all-in-one all-in-one fantasy esports platform with real-time predictive data. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Sharon previously worked at IBM's Watson division before becoming CEO and Founder of Hotpoint App, a CRM and data company for the entertainment and hospitality industries with over 2500 clients from Live Nation, Patron, Hakkasan, Wynn, and others.

Sharon has experience building community-centered products within data-rich platforms. She's on the mission of bringing esports to the Olympics by bridging the gap between esports and sports, and the endemics and non-endemics of the gaming world.

http://www.linkedin.com/in/annieburford
annie@dot.la

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This ChatGPT Competitor Wants to Remember Everything for You, Forever

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

AI generated text
Andria Moore

What if you could never forget any memory ever again?

That’s the question at the heart of San Diego-based artificial intelligence company Personal.ai. Formerly named Human AI, the company recently raised $7.8 million in seed funding led by Differential VC and Supernode Global to continue to develop its app, a fluent digital clone of yourself that remembers all the information you feed it at a moment’s notice, while also constantly learning and evolving with every input.

I had recently seen the Blumhouse horror flick “M3gan,” in which an android doll performs this very function for her owner, a child named Cady. So naturally, when I heard about this less creepy (and more real) concept, I was eager to give the platform a try.

The app works by training on information you give it about yourself through text, image or URL inputs. That could include info from your daily itinerary, your personal website or even intimate details about your life and relationships. As it learns, it mimics the way you speak to it, with the goal of becoming an artificial clone of your hippocampus. Once the training is complete, in theory the AI should be able to recall all the information you give it within a few seconds of being prompted.

That said, according to Personal.ai’s head of finance Jonathan Bikoff, the AI is “not a replacement for you, it’s a supplement.” Most of the app is built on Personal.ai’s proprietary AI system called GCT-1, which learns from personal data, unlike ChatGPT’s popular GPT-3 model trained on publicly available data online. This means GCT-1 provides more limited, but also more tailored personal responses. In other words, it’s more likely to know your schedule from two years ago based on your input than it is to know the name of the current president.

Personal.ai's head of finance Jonathan Bikoff

Photo: Personal.ai/Bikoff.

But there is a component of Personal.ai’s model that does use GPT-3. Part of the app that lets users give the AI more detailed prompts and receive longer generative replies is based on the GPT-3 model, Bikoff said.

Everything you do on Personal.ai has the option to be added to the AI’s “memory stack,” a repository of all it’s learned. Most of the time, the user has to manually select this button before inputting commands or questions.

The main hurdle, for both me and the AI, was training it. First, I input my bio from the dot.LA website, recent clips and a link to my own online portfolio. Then I asked the AI to tell me if it knew things like when I got my degree and from where and when I began specific jobs.

Once the AI quickly learned my basic background, it was on to the fun part – trying to get it to glitch. That proved harder than expected. When asking the AI “what is your name,” it replied, “my name is Samson,” and when I asked “who are you,” expecting a regular response like “I am a journalist based in Los Angeles,” the AI instead uncannily replied, “I am a person, albeit an artificial one.”

Each AI response has a meter to track accuracy, relevance and fluency – basically the AI’s confidence in its answer – which should theoretically increase the more you train it, something I found to be true. There’s also an emoji function that gives the AI an “emotional” response. It felt “anxious” when it didn’t know the answer to a question and “nostalgic” when reminiscing about past conversations.

I was mostly careful about what I input, only giving it source material that’s already been published online. That’s more of my own tech reporter paranoia than it is a recommendation by the Personal.ai team. But I imagine others will also share my reluctance.

That said, Personal.ai uses a third-party decentralized service Oasis to secure the data on the blockchain. Personal.ai CEO Suman Kanuganti said that users own all their data within the app, and that it isn’t aggregated or “sent to big tech.”

Kanuganti also claimed the company can’t see how you’re training your AI: “Users will control the input and output, when and where [and] the company cannot access data,” he said.

Since launching in 2020 Personal.ai has existed as a desktop app. But Bikoff and CEO Suman Kanuganti said the plan is to develop it into a standalone mobile app with a messaging feature so users can communicate with each other’s AIs. To do so, of course, you have to be on the app to message other AIs and can only send AI replies through it. Messages coming from the AI will be marked as such, so people know when they’re communicating with the “real” you or not. But if the AI learns enough about you, the texts should be eventually indistinguishable.

“By simply messaging people, friends and family and colleagues, your AI is learning so much about you, and it’s able to generate better and better draft responses for you to send, saving you time and helping you remember things,” Bikoff added.

Right now the desktop app costs $40/month, but Bikoff said the plan is to reduce that subscription price soon.

Despite the obvious work applications, Bikoff said Personal.ai is designed to be for the general public first. “This is an assistant to help with everyday communications, whether you’re 18 or 80 years old,” Bikoff said.

For his part, Bikoff uses the AI to keep track of which reporters he’s speaking to, his to-do lists, and upcoming travel plans. He added that older users might find the AI beneficial as an everyday assistant as their memory degrades. Hence why he believes onboarding to the app,“should be as easy as iMessage.”

“If you can send a text message, you can train your own AI,” Bikoff added.

Some issues I ran into were that the app’s search function was hyper-specific. Looking for GPT-3 without the hyphen didn’t produce the memory I was searching for: I’d previously asked the AI to define the difference between GPT-3 and Personal.ai’s GCT-1 model. The AI also had to be trained every time it was wrong, otherwise it wouldn’t learn which answers were incorrect. For example, when I asked for the date,it would repeatedly tell me the wrong date, unless I corrected it. But unlike humans, the AI only makes a mistake once; when I relayed the same question a few minutes later it knew the right answer.

I also asked the AI to write me a kicker for this story based on Personal.ai’s press releases.It spit out that, “while these AIs can perform many tasks, from managing our schedules to providing customer service, their true potential lies in their ability to generate new ideas and solutions.”

That’s not exactly what I had in mind. But I can’t blame the AI for being biased.

https://twitter.com/samsonamore
samsonamore@dot.la

Office Hours: AOL and Revolution Founder Steve Case On Entrepreneurship That Makes A ‘Broader Impact’

Spencer Rascoff

Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

Office Hours: AOL and Revolution Founder Steve Case On Entrepreneurship That Makes A ‘Broader Impact’
Steve Case

When you think of thriving tech scenes, San Francisco and the Bay Area probably come to mind. Steve Case has spent most of his career working to expand the tech scene out of the Bay area bubble.

“I recognize great ideas are everywhere, great entrepreneurs are everywhere,” Case said. “But for a lot of people…they don't really have the opportunity to turn those [ideas] into companies.”

On this episode of Office Hours, AOL Co-founder and Revolution CEO and Chairman Steve Case talks about empowering tech communities through his work at Revolution and his entrepreneurial journey in founding one of the most important contributions to the internet – AOL.

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https://twitter.com/spencerrascoff
https://www.linkedin.com/in/spencerrascoff/
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