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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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Vietnamese Automaker’s EV Shipment Is Big Competition For The US

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Bloomberg reports that VinFast is exporting 999 electric vehicles to the U.S. market. The electric vehicles were dispatched on Nov. 25, and they’re expected to arrive in California right around Christmas. The specific model that is en route to the U.S. is the VinFast VF 8 — a 402 hp electric SUV with a battery range of 292 miles. This is similar to the VF 32 model that was unveiled last year. With a price tag of about $41,000, the VinFast VF 8 will be competing with the likes of the Volkwagen ID.4, Tesla Model Y, and Hyundai Ioniq 5.

Another model, the VinFast VF 9, is scheduled to be shipped out from Vietnam in January. But unlike the VF 8, the VF 9 model will include a bigger battery to increase the range up to 342 miles after a full charge. Just like the VF 32 model that was unveiled last year, the VF 9 is designed with all-wheel drive dual electric motors to optimize performance. All VinFast electric vehicles that will be sold in the U.S. will have a battery warranty of 125,000 miles or 10 years.

However, the VinFast VF 8 and VF 9 will not qualify for the new tax credit because they’re not assembled in North America. Then again, VinFast is working to solve that problem since it’s building an electric vehicle manufacturing plant in North Carolina. “As soon as we start manufacturing cars in the U.S., our customers will be eligible (for) the tax incentive,” Le Thi Thu Thuy, the CEO of VinFast told Reuters. The Vietnamese company has also received about 65,000 pre-orders from the international market, and 17,000 bookings from the U.S. 

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Amazon Gives Discounted Xbox Series S A $40 Credit For Cyber Monday

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The Xbox Series S is an ideal backup console for a second room in your home (perhaps used with your monitor to complement your gaming PC), or for your young ones who don’t get caught up in pixel peeping and only care about playing the latest games. Even if you have a 4K TV and you intend to use this as your primary console, games can look pretty great with the advanced resolution upscaling available in most of today’s sets, and you still get that smooth 120Hz performance in games that support it.

Sadly, affordable storage space remains a problem for all current-gen consoles. While Microsoft advertises 512GB, you might get less than 400GB after the system OS eats its share. With some games demanding as much as 100-150GB, you can quickly run out of headroom. You might survive with an affordable external hard drive to store games on while you’re not playing them, as moving games from one hard drive to another is much quicker than redownloading them.

It’s also worth noting that older, non-optimized games can be played directly from an external hard drive. If you anticipate needing more storage for current games, your best bet might be to step up to the 1TB Xbox Series X, which costs $260 more than this deal (and is typically harder to find), or add an optional storage expansion card, which is similarly costly, starting at $220 for 1TB.

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ARK: Ultimate Survivor Edition Review For Nintendo Switch: Fight For Your Fun

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Whether you’re playing the standard version of “ARK” or this new all-in-one Switch port, the fundamental game is the same: Your character wakes up in a semi-random spot on your chosen map, then you get to work crafting survival implements and putting together a shelter. Eventually you branch out into bigger and better stuff, and even start to tame dinosaurs to act as mounts, protectors, or specialized material gatherers.

Gather materials and supplies, craft tools and gear, level-up to learn more crafting recipes, gather more materials, craft better stuff, and so on. All while balancing your character’s need for food and water, navigating extreme temperatures, and trying not to get eaten by prehistoric animals. Comparing it to “Minecraft” might seem disingenuous, but the game runs on similar principles.

Some things are a bit more complicated in “ARK,” however, even without the need for terrain manipulation found in “Minecraft.” There are a lot of status effects to consider (get too warm, too cold, poisoned, knocked out, broken bones), and you have to craft everything — including the parts needed to build yourself a home. It’s a satisfying enough feedback loop of steady progression, but it also feels a bit hamstrung by its history.

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