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Startups target employment with AI and engagement tools – TechCrunch

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If you have a job today, there’s a good chance you personally reached out to your employer and interviewed with other humans to get it. Now that you’ve been there a while, it’s also likely the workday feels more like a long slog than the fulfilling career move you had envisioned.

But if today’s early-stage startups have their way, your next employment experience could be quite different.

First, forget the networking and interview gauntlet. Instead, let an AI-enabled screening program reach out about a job you don’t seem obviously qualified to do. Or, rather than talk to a company’s employees, wait for them to play some online games instead. If you play similarly, they may decide to hire you.

Once you have the job, software will also make you more efficient and happier at your work.

An AI-driven software platform will deliver regular “nudges,” offering customized suggestions to make you a more effective worker. If you’re feeling burned out, head online to text or video chat with a coach or therapist. Or perhaps you’ll just be happier in your job now that your employer is delivering regular tokens of appreciation.

Those are a few of the ways early-stage startups are looking to change the status quo of job-seeking and employment. While employment is a broad category, an analysis of Crunchbase funding data for the space shows a high concentration of activity in two key areas: AI-driven hiring software and tools to improve employee engagement.

Below, we look at where the money’s going and how today’s early-stage startups could play a role in transforming the work experience of tomorrow.

Artificial intelligence

To begin, let us reflect that we are at a strange inflection point for AI and employment. Our artificially intelligent overlords are not smart enough to actually do our jobs. Nonetheless, they have strong opinions about whether we’re qualified to do them ourselves.

It is at this peculiar point that the alchemic mix of AI software, recruiting-based business models and venture capital are coming together to build startups.

In 2018, at least 43 companies applying AI or machine learning to some facet of employment have raised seed or early-stage funding, according to Crunchbase data. In the chart below, we look at a few startups that have secured rounds, along with their backers and respective business models:

At present, even AI boosters don’t tout the technology as a cure-all for troubles plaguing the talent recruitment space. While it’s true humans are biased and flawed when it comes to evaluating job candidates, artificially intelligent software suffers from many of the same bugs. For instance, Amazon scrapped its AI recruiting tool developed in-house because it exhibited bias against women.

That said, it’s still early innings. Over the next few years, startups will be actively tweaking their software to improve performance and reduce bias.

Happiness and engagement

Once the goal of recruiting the best people is achieved, the next step is ensuring they stay and thrive.

Usually, a paycheck goes a long way to accomplishing the goal of staying. But in case that’s not enough, startups are busily devising a host of tools for employers to boost engagement and fight the scourge of burnout.

In the chart below, we look at a few of the companies that received early-stage funding this year to build out software platforms and services aimed at making people happier and more effective at work:

The most heavily funded of the early-stage crop looks to be Peakon, which offers a software platform for measuring employee engagement and collecting feedback. The Danish firm has raised $33 million to date to fund its expansion.

London-based BioBeats is another up-and-comer aimed at the “corporate wellness” market, with digital tools to help employees track stress levels and other health-related metrics. The company has raised $7 million to date to help keep those stress levels in check.

Early-stage indicators

Early-stage funding activity tends to be an indicator of areas with somewhat low adoption rates today that are poised to take off dramatically. For employment, that means we can likely expect to see AI-based recruitment and software-driven engagement tools become more widespread in the coming years.

What does that mean for job seekers and paycheck toilers? Expect to spend more of your time interfacing with intelligent software. Apparently, it’ll make you more employable, and happier, too.

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10 Iconic Movie Cars That Weren’t Even Real

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James Bond and cool cars together are the epitome of cool. The Bond franchise is famous for its car chases, extravagant crashes, and daring escapes. Six actors have portrayed agent 007 since 1963 and they have all driven a variety of cool cars, some of them equipped with space-age spycraft and defensive capabilities. The fifth Bond, Pierce Brosnan, drove one such cool car in The World is Not Enough, a BMW Z8. As an Englishman, Bond had historically driven English cars, like Aston Martin and Lotus, but a product tie-in with BMW in the nineties changed all that.

In this movie, we get to see Bond utilize some of the obligatory gadgets such as rocket launchers but also see a foretelling of things to come with a remote start and summon feature, something unheard of in 1999. However, something also unheard of is a 1999 Z8, because it did not exist until the 2000 model year. According to Top Gear, the production Z8 was not ready during filming, so BMW provided a couple of unfinished pre-production cars and gave producers specs to create other completely fabricated custom cars powered by a Chevy V8 with a Jaguar suspension for filming, particularly the scene where one gets sawed in half. The Z8 gets very little screen time in this movie, likely because they didn’t really have a complete car to work with.

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Halo Infinite’s Campaign Co-Op Beta Kicks Off Soon

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In the past, and in other major co-op games, playing co-op equals advancing the game only for the person who is hosting it. The other players join the game and progress for the host but are unable to retain that progress for their own saves, and they also cannot start up the game without the host being around to do it for them. It seems that with “Halo Infinite,” the developers behind the game wanted to take a different approach by making co-op progress accessible even after the gaming session is over. As Bender said, “One of our core principles is that we don’t want to require you to have an isolated co-op save.”

As a result of that new policy, every player’s progress is going to count toward their main playthrough. Any items, collectibles, achievements, and mission progress earned during a co-op session will carry over to an individual gamer’s save. There’s also a new approach referred to as “No Spartan Left Behind.” When you join a Fireteam and select your save slot, the game will look at mission completion across all the saves and then set up a game world for you and your friends. In that game world, any mission that has been completed will be marked as such, but only as long as every single member of the Fireteam will have it completed. If there’s even one person that hasn’t tackled it just yet, the mission will be incomplete for everyone in the co-op world.

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Satechi USB-C Slim Dock For 24-Inch iMac Review: Fixing Shortcomings

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There are plenty of iMac docks on the market today, especially after the launch of the 2021 M1 models. Part of the tradeoff for the computer’s gorgeously slim design is the dearth of ports, all of which are hidden behind its screen. But while many of these docks and hubs are advertised as compatible with the 24-inch iMac, Satechi’s new dock takes that to the extreme — in fact, the USB-C Slim Dock is designed only for the 24-inch M1 iMac. Sure, you could use it for other computers, but then you lose one of its biggest features.

That feature is actually the wide gap on its bottom that perfectly fits the base of the iMac. This makes the dock look almost like it’s part of the iMac itself, especially if you get matching colors. The dock also creates a wider base that you could put things on if you like. Either way, its exclusivity to the 2021 and 2022 M1 iMacs works in its favor, creating a seamless appearance that fits the machine perfectly.

Whether you match colors or not, the Satechi USB-C dock matches the build quality of the iMac it sits on. Made from durable aluminum, the accessory looks premium and stylish, adding some character to your desk just as much as the iMac does. The material also makes heat dissipation more effective, which comes in handy given its hidden superpower. If there’s one disappointing aspect of the dock, it would be that it’s available only in silver and blue colorways that won’t color match all the available iMac hues.

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