Clarifai job cuts, Lyft and Waymo love-in and OpenAI's scary GPT-2 goes live – well, sort of

Bits and bobs from the week's AI news

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Roundup Hello, this week's AI roundup is short and sweet. If you've been waiting to play with OpenAI's GPT-2 model, here's your chance. Also, Waymo and Lyft are working together to bring self-driving taxis on the road.

Clarifai is slashing its staff: Clarifai, the computer vision startup best known for its work with the US Department of Defense's controversial Project Maven, has laid off a fifth of its staff.

The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2013 by CEO Matthew Zeiler, an image recognition engineer. It sells software to identify objects, faces, and the like for various industries ranging from retail to the military.

Clarifai was identified as one of the startups working with the Department of Defense on Project Maven, which aims to apply object recognition to drone footage. Google decided to drop its military contract after employees revolted, but the work continued at smaller companies like Clarifai.

Not everyone at Clarifai seems to be happy about that, however, according to The Information. So it’s had to let go about 20 per cent of its staff. Amy Kim, a product manager working on Project Maven and Rudi Chiarito, principal infrastructure engineer, are among those that have been axed.

Some of the reviews on Glassdoor, a website that allows past and present employees to review companies, provide a hint on what’s going on. There are glowing reviews praising the CEO as a “visionary”, and there are other ones describing Zeiler as “the biggest company fail”. Go figure.

Now you can try GPT-2, too: Remember OpenAI’s GPT-2 word-spewing language model that was said to be too dangerous to publish? Well, an engineer has made a version of it available for folks to use, nice and easy, via the web.

Adam King, a machine-learning engineer based in Canada, provided the tech so that anyone can experiment with it in their web browser. It uses the smaller version of the GPT-2, mind you, which was released last week by OpenAI. This one has 345 million parameters, so it’s not as powerful as the one with 1.5 billion parameters that’s still under wraps for safety reasons.

You can have a go on it right here.

It's proved quite popular since its launch this week. King said the model has been cranking out the equivalent huge reams of text for curious netizens...

Waymo and Lyft are joining forces: Waymo is cosying up to Lyft to carry out its dreams of running an autonomous taxi ride-hailing service.

It’s going to loan ten of its self-driving vehicles to Lyft over the next few months and customers can choose to board a Waymo car in the app. The service is only available for people in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area in Arizona at the moment as part of a trial and Lyft will have to provide drivers as a safety precaution.

“This first step in our partnership will allow us to introduce the Waymo Driver to Lyft users, enabling them to take what for many will be their first ride in a self-driving vehicle. We’re committed to continuously improving our customer experience, and our partnership with Lyft will also give our teams the opportunity to collect valuable feedback,” it said this week. ®

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