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. 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

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🏰 Disney's Epic Investment Stands Out Amidst Gaming Industry Layoffs

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

🔦 Spotlight

In the midst of widespread gaming industry layoffs, a glimmer of positive news emerges as Disney announces a significant move: a $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games. 🏰💰🐭

Image Source: Disney

Disney's $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games, disclosed late Wednesday, signals a strategic alignment aimed at expanding the success of "Fortnite." The deal enhances Epic's growth prospects after financial setbacks, including layoffs, and strengthens the partnership between the two companies. With Disney gaining a larger equity stake in Epic, the collaboration will broaden the integration of beloved Disney franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Avatar into the game, potentially boosting its appeal and longevity. This significant investment underscores Disney's commitment to interactive entertainment and signifies a shift towards games as a primary revenue stream, aligning with the growing trend of digital engagement among younger demographics. Moreover, the potential for crossover sales of physical Disney products within "Fortnite" and the exploration of new content distribution channels are just some of the opportunities arising from this partnership.

For LA tech, the Disney-Epic Games partnership represents a validation of the region's burgeoning tech and gaming ecosystem. The substantial investment in Epic, who maintains a large Los Angeles office with 1,000+ employees (according to LinkedIn), reflects confidence in the LA’s talent pool and innovation potential. Additionally, this partnership between two industry giants fosters an environment for further collaboration, investment, and growth within LA's tech sector. As Disney and Epic Games deepen their ties and explore new avenues for content integration and distribution, it not only elevates the prominence of LA as a tech hub but also stimulates economic growth and job creation in the region. This partnership highlights LA's unique position as a hub where technology and entertainment converge. With its ability to integrate diverse industries, LA is driving innovation and expansion in digital entertainment. 🚀💸🎮

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • ProducePay, a financing and marketplace platform for the fresh produce market, raised a $38M Series D led by Syngenta Group Ventures joined by Commonfund, Highgate Private Equity, G2 Venture Partners, Anterra Capital, Astanor Ventures, Endeavor8, Avenue Venture Opportunities, Avenue Sustainable Solutions, and Red Bear Angels. - learn more
  • Blush, an invite-only dating app that drives users to local businesses on dates, raised a $7M Seed Round from individuals like Naval Ravikant. - learn more
  • Mogul, a startup founded last year that provides an overview of an artist's royalty earnings and identifies areas where money is owed but has not yet been collected, raised a $1.9 million seed round from Wonder Ventures, United Talent Agency, AmplifyLA, and Creator Partners. - learn more
  • Avnos, a hybrid direct air capture startup, raised a $36M Series A led by NextEra Energy and joined by Safran Corporate Ventures, Shell Ventures, Envisioning Partners, and Rusheen Capital Management. - learn more
  • AI.fashion, startup whose mission is to help retailers enhance the online shopping experience by providing consumers with virtual try-ons and personalized fashion recommendations, raised a $3.6M Seed Round led by Neo. - learn more
  • Suma Wealth, startup that aims to demystify financial topics and provide culturally relevant content, virtual experiences, and resources to help Latino users navigate financial challenges and opportunities, raised a $2.2M Seed Round . Radicle Impact led, and was joined by Vamos Ventures, OVO fund and the American Heart Association Impact Fund. - learn more
  • 222, a startup that helps users discover their city and meet new people through unique social experiences, raised a $2.5M Seed Round. Investors included 1517 Fund, General Catalyst, Best Nights VC, Scrum Ventures, and Upfront Ventures. - learn more
  • LimaCharlie, a security operations cloud platform, raised a $10.2M Series A led by Sands Capital. - learn more
  • Polycam, an app that uses a smartphone’s sensors to capture 3D scans of objects, raised an $18M Series A co-led by Left Lane Capital and Adjacent, and joined by Adobe Ventures and individuals like Chad Hurley and Shaun Maguire. -learn more.

LA Venture Funds

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a startup building software to decarbonize logistics for logistics businesses and goods business through a vetted marketplace and optimization software. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $1.5M Pre Seed Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

Venture Waves, Climate Tech Wins, and Silicon Beach's Ongoing Evolution

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Anduril Seeks $1.5B in VC Funds

Defense company Anduril Industries Inc., based in Costa Mesa and founded by Palmer Luckey, is seeking to raise $1.5 billion in fresh funds to boost its valuation to $12.5 billion or more, according to sources quoted by The Information. This fundraising effort, if successful, would mark one of the largest venture capital rounds of the year.

Image Source: Anduril

Anduril recently secured a contract to develop and test small unmanned fighter jet prototypes under the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program, beating out major defense companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Alongside General Atomics, Anduril will design, manufacture, and test these aircraft, with a final multibillion-dollar production decision expected in fiscal year 2026. This program aims to deliver at least 1,000 combat aircraft to fly in concert with manned platforms and is part of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance initiative. Central to Anduril’s success in this contract is the Fury autonomous air vehicle, acquired through the purchase of Blue Force Technologies. This victory underscores Anduril's rapid advancement in the defense sector, aligning with Luckey's vision of building faster and more cost-effective defense assets. - learn more

Los Angeles Ranks Number 1 in Emerging Climate Tech Hub

The 2024 Emerging Climate Tech Hubs Report by Revolution highlights Los Angeles as a burgeoning center for climate tech innovation. LA's growth in this sector is driven by its diverse talent pool, strong research institutions, and a culture of environmental consciousness. The city's unique mix of legacy industries, such as entertainment and aerospace, alongside emerging tech companies, positions it as a pivotal player in the climate tech landscape. This shift reflects a broader trend of decentralized climate tech funding across the U.S., reducing the historical dominance of California's traditional hubs. - learn more

Silicon Beach: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Assessing the overall health of the startup market is challenging, especially as venture capital funding has decreased by an average of 61% from 2021 to 2023 across the top VC markets in the US. Markets with robust ecosystems in AI, SaaS, Biotech, Healthtech, and Fintech appear to be weathering the downturn better than those focused on Consumer and Gaming industries, areas where Los Angeles traditionally excels.

Percent Change In VC Funding By Region

CB Insights

LA Times paints a rather bleak outlook on the Los Angeles tech scene noting venture capital funding in Greater Los Angeles plummeted 73% from 2021 to 2022. Silicon Beach, once a vibrant tech corridor, currently faces high vacancy rates and lacks late-stage financiers, especially in the AI sector. However, there are positive signs, including growth in aerospace startups and increased venture capital investment in early 2024, suggesting a potential rebound for LA's tech ecosystem.

While LA may not be exceeding expectations during this period, its tech ecosystem warrants a nuanced evaluation, given the broader market dynamics and its strong performance in specific sectors. Reach out to us with your thoughts.

🚀 SpaceX gears up for another stellar year, active raises, and more

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Happy Friday Los Angeles! You made it through the first week of 2024!

🔦 Spotlight

Elon Musk may be a divisive (albeit entertaining) figure, but the continued success of SpaceX is pivotal for the aerospace industry in Los Angeles and more broadly around the world.

Image Source: SpaceX webcast

What happened with SpaceX in 2023?

  • Elon Musk challenged Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight.
  • SpaceX launched 96 successful missions with its Falcon series of rockets, a 57% increase over its previous annual record.
  • SpaceX conducted two test flights of the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, Starship.
  • Roughly two-thirds of SpaceX's launches in 2023 were devoted to building out Starlink, the company's satellite-internet megaconstellation.
  • Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography was published in September including everything from Musk’s tumultuous relationship with his father to his work ethic and “demon mode”.

Moving forward what can we expect from SpaceX and its controversial founder? Continued innovation pushing the aerospace industry to new limits? Yes. More drama? Without a doubt.

Here is some of what is to come in 2024:

🤝 Venture Deals

Just Announced

Check back next week!

LA Exits

  • CG Oncology, an Irvine, CA-based developer of immunotherapies for bladder cancer, filed for a $100M IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (CGON) with Morgan Stanley as left lead underwriter, and has raised around $317m in VC funding. - learn more
  • McNally Capital agreed to sell Advanced Micro Instruments, a Costa Mesa, CA-based maker of gas analyzers and sensing technologies, to Enpro (NYSE: NPO). - learn more

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a hard-tech startup that is developing a technology for decarbonizing natural gas, is raising a $1.5M Seed Round. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $250K Angel Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

📅 LA Tech Calendar

Sunday, January 7th

Wednesday, January 10th

  • Startup Cafe: Networking with a Kick - Entrepreneurs, Startups, and Tech Enthusiasts join together to meet and connect with like-minded people, industry professionals and investors, while enjoying a nice cup of coffee in Venice at The KINN. This week’s interactive discussion about AI’s evolution in entertainment will feature Dr. Sam Khoze and Rachel Joy Victor.
  • Venice Tech Happy Hour- Join Startup Coil and FoundrHaus Wednesday evening and enjoy the sunset from the rooftop, grab a bite overlooking Abbot Kinney, and mingle with other tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs by the bar on the patio.

Have an awesome event coming up? Reach out to be featured on next week’s Newsletter!

📙 What We’re Reading

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