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NY AG is investigating Twitch, Discord and 4chan for their role in the Buffalo mass shooting – TechCrunch

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New York Attorney General Letitia James will launch an investigation into the role that social media and online message boards played in the tragedy that unfolded in Buffalo over the weekend.

On Saturday, an 18-year-old shooter opened fire at a Tops supermarket, killing 10 people and wounding three others. In online materials, the suspected shooter describes how discovering white supremacy on 4chan radicalized his thinking and ultimately inspired him to carry out the deadly attack.

The investigation was prompted by a referral from New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who called on social media companies to monitor content more aggressively for dangerous extremism in the days following the mass shooting.

“I am seeking your assistance to investigate the specific online platforms that were used to broadcast and amplify the acts and intentions of the mass shooting that took place in Buffalo on May 14, 2022 and determine whether specific companies have civil or criminal liability for their role in promoting, facilitating, or providing a platform to plan and promote violence,” Hochul wrote in a letter to the AG’s office Wednesday.

The attorney general’s office plans to examine social apps and sites “including but not limited to” Twitch, Discord, 4chan and 8chan.

“Time and time again, we have seen the real-world devastation that is borne of these dangerous and hateful platforms, and we are doing everything in our power to shine a spotlight on this alarming behavior and take action to ensure it never happens again,” James said.

Her office did not provide much detail on the investigation, which lumps mainstream social media services with content moderation together with notorious, anything goes hubs of extremism like 4chan and 8chan. While the former will likely comply with the AG’s office, the latter two web forums are less likely to humor the investigation.

8chan, which is run out of the Philippines, in particular is a hotbed of activity for extremists planning racist violence. Mass shooters in El Paso, Christchurch, New Zealand, Poway, California and now Buffalo all posted their plans and screeds to 8chan prior to their deadly attacks. In a journal entry prior to the attack, the Buffalo shooter noted that he would publish his writing on 8chan and 4chan in addition to sending it to his Discord servers and friends list.

The web forum that appears to be the main source of the suspected shooter’s ideals, 4chan, refuses to make any proactive efforts to moderate content and has long incubated white supremacy and other dangerous forms of extremism.

Amazon-owned Twitch detected the shooter’s livestream within two minutes of the violence beginning and removed the video, though it continues to circulate openly on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. It’s not clear if the AG’s investigation will also examine the spread of the graphic video, which has been copied many times and shared around the web.

The suspected shooter published his plans in detail to a private Discord server and on Google Docs, but neither private digital space is scanned to detect extremist threats. The question of how much online platforms should monitor non-public spaces is a difficult one given privacy concerns and existing laws, but it’s also a conversation we’re likely to be hearing a lot about in the coming days.

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Azota is solving exam headaches for Vietnam’s teachers – TechCrunch

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Creating and grading tests is one of the most time-consuming tasks teachers need to deal with. In Vietnam, a startup called Azota wants to help with an online software platform that not only helps educators develop and proctor tests, but also automatically grades them using information from Vietnamese teaching materials. The company announced today it has raised $2.4 million in pre-Series A funding led by GGV Capital, with participation from Nextrans and returning investor Do Ventures. 

Founded last year, Azota now counts 700,000 teachers and 10 million students in primary, secondary and high schools among its users. It says that during peak test periods, it serves over six million users each month, or about 30% of the total number of teachers and students in Vietnam. It claims it can cut down the grading process from two hours when done manually to just two minutes. 

Azota’s creation came amidst the pandemic in 2021. Before co-founding the startup, Au Nguyen, its CEO, worked for Viettel, one of the largest telecoms in Vietnam. He led an educational unit on school management solutions, but realized that educators had many pain points that his team could not solve. As a result, he decided to team up with his friends, Dai Nguyen and Hung Le, to create Azota. 

“As the team sees it, there are two major scopes of work for teachers: teaching and assigning and grading tests,” they told TechCrunch in an email. “During the COVID times, teaching had to go online, and there were numerous tools to support this change such as Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Team, etc. But when it comes to online assigning and grading, there were few tools available, which made the process very labor-intensive and time-consuming.” 

Azota built an optical character recognition app to automatically recognize Q&A’s from test images taken from teachers’ phones. It shuffles those questions and answers to create hundreds of modified test combinations. Since the OCR was built using Vietnamese teaching materials, the team said it can recognize Vietnamese tests with a 99% accuracy rate. 

Azota’s founders are also working on a more advanced question bank features that will allow teachers to pick and chose from its inventory to create exams from scratch. 

The startup is used by educators across the nation, with about 22% coming from the major cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and the rest distributed equally among all provinces in Vietnam, they added. 

The team identifies two main groups of competitors. The first are big corporations that provide learning management software (LMS) to schools, but they say it’s still a fragmented market in Vietnam with different companies dominating different regions.

The second are startups that provide tools for teachers, but Azota’s founders say the teaching tool segment is still early and Azota differentiates by using a product-led growth model, solving teachers’ main challenges as they grow, especially for assigning and grading, instead of trying to address every issue that comes up. 

In a prepared statement, GGV Capital global managing partner Jixun Foo said, “Using technology to empower teachers to teach better, Azota makes great education accessible to millions of students. They can unleash the true potential of teachers to groom the next generation of Vietnamese youth.”

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Raising capital for robotics startups with Bee Partners and Rapid Robotics – TechCrunch

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Jordan Kretchmer founded Rapid Robotics with the mission of simplifying robotics for manufacturing by providing out-of-the-box automation solutions. Founded in 2019, the company quickly gained the attention of top VCs, including Bee Partners, which led Rapid Robotics’ seed round and participated in each of the following rounds. Hear Rapid Robotics’ pitch and hear from Kira Noodleman, partner at Bee Partners, to learn why robotic companies are quickly (and easily) gaining VC money.

This TechCrunch Live event opens on July 6 at 11:30 a.m. PDT/2:30 p.m. EDT with networking. The interview begins at 12 p.m. PDT followed by the TCL Pitch Practice at 12:30 p.m. PDT. Register here for free.

TechCrunch Live records weekly on Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. PDT/2:30 p.m. EDT. Join us! Click here to register for free and gain access to all TechCrunch Live events — including TechCrunch Live, City Spotlight, Startup Pitch Practice, Networking and other TechCrunch community events — with just one registration.

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AI chipmaker Rebellions gets $22.8M Series A extension from Korean telco company KT  – TechCrunch

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South Korean AI chip developer Rebellions has raised a $22.8 million (30 billion KRW) extension to its Series A financing from a strategic investor KT, one of the largest telecom companies in South Korea. 

Last month, TechCrunch reported on Rebellions closing on $50 million in funding that valued the company at an estimated $283 million. At that time, Rebellions CEO and co-founder Sunghyun Park told TechCrunch that the startup wrapped up its initial Series A, which was oversubscribed, in less than three months from financial investors. 

The Pavilion Capital-backed AI chipmaker has raised about $72.8 million (92 billion KRW) in total Series A funding, bringing its total funding to about $102.8 million since its inception in 2020. 

Rebellions spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company plans to use the extension round to mass-produce its second AI chip prototype, ATOM, that will be used for large companies in the cloud sector and data centers. 

KT says it wants to develop AI chips such as NPU (neural processing unit) that will be used for data centers, autonomous vehicles and fintech.

This is the second strategic investment KT has made with AI chipmakers in South Korea in its effort to accelerate the AI semiconductor business. Ku also said in a prepared statement that KT would continue to invest in startups amid a tough investment environment. 

The competition for AI chips has been heating up as companies, including big tech giants like Nvidia, Intel, Google, and Apple, develop competing products. Intel acquired Habana Labs, an Israeli startup developing AI chipmaker for data centers, in 2019.  

The global AI chip market is projected to reach $194.9 billion by 2030, up from $8.02 billion in 2021, per the AI chip market outlook report. 

“AI semiconductor is one of the next big technologies,” said CEO of KT Hyeon-Mo Ku in a prepared statement. “Through the partnership with KT, we hope Rebellions will become a global fabless company like NVIDIA and Qualcomm.”  

Rebellions is also currently in discussions with potential customers in the financial sector to get its first AI chip, ION, which was launched in November 2021.

“We are looking forward to collaborating with KT, a leader in the Cloud and internet data center industry, and the strategic partnership will be the driving force behind Rebellions’ new growth and business,” Park said in the statement. 

Investors participating in Rebellions’ Series A include Temasek’s Pavilion Capital, Korean Development Bank, SV Investment, Mirae Asset Capital, KT Investment and Kakao Ventures. 

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