?? AI tools for writing, explained | #relationshipscams | #dating


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2021 keeps on 2021-ing: An NFT called “Covid Alien” sold for $11.8m at a Sotheby’s auction.

The artwork is a pixel image of a head called CryptoPunks and was purchased by Shalom Meckenzie, the largest shareholder of sports gambling platform DraftKings.

The big idea
robot writing

Using AI to write better, faster, smarter

Computers can write bizarre sci-fi movies about characters who have to “go to the skull,” but can they make us better writers?

Compose.ai just raised $2.1m in seed funding to help us write faster, per TechCrunch.

It’s a free browser extension that offers autocomplete suggestions to help users churn out the content.

The startup’s yet-to-launch paid versions will “learn” a user’s voice, picking up frequently used phrases and writing styles. Teams can get a custom plan that lets them set language rules.

Spicing up the text editor

Meanwhile, Google Docs and Microsoft Word may soon have to step up their games.

Almanac — which raised $9m in seed funding last year — bills itself as the fastest document editor ever.

It works by streamlining common workflows. You can:

  • Compare and merge your changes with the original doc
  • Create to-do lists and request feedback or approval inside docs
  • Use it without touching your mouse
  • Save frequently used blocks of text and insert them later

Other handy word wranglers have found success, too:

  • Grammarly, which offers both free and paid services, has 30m+ daily users. It raised $90m in 2019 and, as of 2020, had estimated annual revenue of $73.2m.
  • Israeli-based AI21 Labs’ Wordtune is an AI tool that helps rephrase writing for clarity and tone. It raised $25m last year.

All of these advances sound great, but we have yet to see any startup tackle writer’s block.

SNIPPETS

Faire — what name! — is an online wholesale marketplace for small retailers and mom n’ pop shops. It just raised at a $7B valuation, with plans to expand its Europe operation. #ecommerce-retail

President Biden’s new review of TikTok could mean bad news for the video sharing app as the US government looks to a hard line against Chinese tech. #privacy

The biotech industry is tackling climate change by replacing petrochemicals with identical (but sustainable) materials. #clean-energy

Apple teaches new employees its philosophy on innovation by using Pablo Picasso’s “Bull”. Trung gives a breakdown. #hustle-picks

Waiting for Apple’s “next big thing”? CNBC says announcements from the company’s annual developer conference (WWDC) point to augmented reality (AR). #big-tech

Ledger — a hardware startup that makes physical crypto wallets — raised $380m at a $1.5B valuation. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Workplace management firm Monday.com went public on Thursday. Zoom and Salesforce bought in on the IPO and — after the first-day pop — scored a combined profit of $23m. #emerging-tech

Cybersecurity
laptop and credit card

It’s not just pipelines; everyday gig workers are getting phished too

Not long ago, “getting Phished” meant waking up in a festival field wearing nothing but cargo shorts — 23 hours into a 3-day jam session, smelling like patchouli oil.

Now, the hackers are ruining it for us all.

Recently, high-profile cyberattacks of pipelines, meat factories, and ferry operations have cast new light on the existential risk of a digital society.

But it’s not just large organizations feeling the hack heat

A recent Protocol article details the rise of phishing attacks among DoorDash gig workers (AKA Dashers).

Here’s how these DoorDash attacks work:

  1. A DoorDash worker receives an order needing fulfillment
  2. The worker receives a call from someone pretending to be a DoorDash support representative, saying the order has been canceled
  3. The worker is unable to remove the order from their app (because it has not been legitimately canceled)
  4. The scammer offers to send the worker a link to clear their app
  5. The link prompts the worker to provide their username and password

The hackers then access and drain the Dasher’s account

Although Protocol was unable to confirm the number of scammed DoorDash workers, Reddit threads indicate a growing number of gig worker victims (Postmates couriers have been hit, too).

DoorDash suggests these are one-off problems. But gig workers are particularly vulnerable to phishing scams because of their relationship with their work. Often, they have no boss or co-workers to consult with and the money is just dropped into their account.

They simply follow the prompts of an app…

NFTs
NFT characters

In-game NFTs could be big business… and actually benefit gamers

The non-fungible token (NFT) craze — which lets people buy digital assets recorded on a blockchain — has covered the spectrum from understandable (NBA highlights) to absurd (an $85 fart).

According to VentureBeat, gaming startup Mythical Games just raised $75m to create a game where the in-game avatars are NFTs.

This definitely falls on the “understandable” part of the spectrum.

Called ‘Blankos Block Party’

… it is an open-world game that’s currently in early access on PC. In it, little toys called Blankos race, jump, slide, and collect “vibes.”

Each Blanko is an NFT that lives on a blockchain. While the game and the 1st Blanko are free, players can pay to customize and upgrade their Blankos. They can also buy and sell Blankos in the game’s marketplace.

Buying stuff in games is already big business

In 2020, the digital games industry hit $127B, but 78% of that was from free-to-play games where players made in-game purchases.

The top free-to-play game, “Honor of Kings,” saw $2.45B in revenue from player purchases. Once, someone spent $22m on a hero skin of a Chinese military general (we can’t make this sh*t up).

The difference is players own their NFTs

Gamers have cashed in by leveling up and selling “World of Warcraft” characters, but Blizzard Entertainment owns those characters and discourages players from doing that.

In the NFT model Mythical Games is proposing, players would actually own their characters and could freely trade or sell them without relying on a shady black or gray market. The company also wants to license its platform to other game studios.

Guess it’s time to start Blanko farming! Or is it Blanko mining?

Stats of the day
inflation meme

Source: AhSeeIt

In May, US consumer prices rose 5% YoY, the largest jump since August 2008, per CNBC.

However, not all prices were up equally:

  • +29.7% YoY for used cars and trucks
  • +24% YoY for airline tickets (makes sense)
  • +10% YoY for hotels and motels (makes double sense)
  • +2.2 YoY for shelter
  • +0.4% YoY for the food index

As noted in our recent interview with famed investor Stanley Druckenmiller, higher inflation — and the potential government response of higher interest rates — is the “biggest threat” to stocks and other investment assets.

While the travel-related price gains (e.g., airplanes, hotels) are clearly related to pent-up demand, most day-to-day expenses didn’t explode.

It’s certainly worth keeping an eye on, though, as this summer could be consumers gone wild.

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