Quartz forms Quartz AI Studio with $250k grant from Knight Foundation

Quartz has used artificial intelligence technology to help it promote articles through its AI-enabled chatbots. Now the publication is looking to …

Quartz has used artificial intelligence technology to help it promote articles through its AI-enabled chatbots. Now the publication is looking to incorporate computers more in the reporting of those articles.

Quartz has formed the Quartz AI Studio to produce articles that use machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence that trains computers to identify patterns and anomalies and otherwise analyze data, to assist in the reporting of those articles, such as by separating the signal from the noise in terabytes of data in a fraction of the time that it would take a team of humans to comb through them.

Similar to the Quartz Bot Studio, which was established in November 2016 to develop chatbots and apps for conversational interfaces like Facebook’s Messenger and Amazon’s Alexa, the formation of the publication’s AI outfit stems from a Knight Foundation grant. Quartz will use the $249,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to hire a developer and a producer to join the Quartz AI Studio alongside John Keefe, technical architect for bots and machine learning at Quartz. Quartz expects to make those hires in time to begin working on stories in January, said Keefe.

“Artificial intelligence has the potential to have a transformative impact on the ways in which journalists share and spread the news. The Quartz AI Studio will hone this opportunity, putting artificial intelligence reporting methods into the hands of more journalists and helping small and mid-size news organizations increase their capacity to innovate,” said Paul Cheung, Knight Foundation director for journalism and technology innovation, in an emailed statement.

Publications, like BuzzFeed and The Washington Post, already use artificial intelligence to investigate hidden spy planes and cover companies’ earnings reports. Quartz AI Studio will produce similar work, but it will also be tasked with producing materials to help other publications produce such work on their own as well as in tandem with Quartz.

“This is taking [data journalism] to the next level where we’re trying to get journalists comfortable using computers to do some of this pattern matching, sorting, grouping, anomaly detection — really working with especially large data sets,” said Keefe.

Quartz AI Studio is expected to work on six articles in 2019, and Quartz hopes that at least half of those articles will be produced in collaboration with other publications, said Keefe.

Over the next six weeks, Quartz will brainstorm what stories would make sense for the AI Studio team to work on. “Machine learning won’t help with every story,” he said. Quartz has not set specific areas of interest for its AI Studio team that indicates any changes in the publication’s editorial coverage, Keefe said. The publication will also reach out to other news organizations, large and small, to see if they have any projects in the pipeline that could benefit from collaborating with Quartz AI Studio.

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The Knight Foundation grant will subsidize Quartz AI Studio’s work for the next year, during which time Quartz could find ways to make money from it in the long run. As it has done with its Bot Studio, Quartz could have the AI Studio team to work with brands, though that’s not part of the plan for AI Studio’s first year, Keefe said.

Also not part of the plan, at least initially, is having Quartz AI Studio produce content specifically for Quartz’s new paid membership tier. Not only will the AI Studio team be working on big enough projects that “we will want to have out to the general population,” Keefe said, but half of those projects are likely to be produced with other publications that wouldn’t want to limit their own audiences’ ability to access it.

In addition to incorporating more computer-assisted reporting in its own journalism, the publication plans to use its AI Studio to help others, particularly small- and mid-sized outlets that may not be able to staff a standalone team dedicated to AI-assisted reporting. The Quartz AI Studio team will publish how-to guides and release code examples that other publications can use to start incorporating the technology into their own reporting.

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Unocoin co-founder recounts his arrest after India shut down his cryptocurrency ATM

It was an ordinary Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 23) for Harish BV. The co-founder of the Indian virtual currency exchange, Unocoin, was fussing over …

It was an ordinary Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 23) for Harish BV. The co-founder of the Indian virtual currency exchange, Unocoin, was fussing over the company’s new kiosk machine at Kemp Fort Mall in the southern city of Bengaluru.

The booth, installed the previous week, was touted as the country’s first cryptocurrency ATM. The plan was to allow Unocoin customers to withdraw or deposit money, which could then be used to sell or buy cryptocurrencies from its website or mobile app.

The machine was not yet operational that Tuesday and Harish wanted to ensure the systems were flawless before customers were allowed to transact on it. The operational upgrades, which Harish had been supervising that afternoon, were in their final leg.

But things began to go awry when a troop of police officials marched into the mall. They interrupted the operations at the Unocoin kiosk and picked up Harish for questioning. Later, he was sent to judicial custody on charges that the Unocoin kiosk lacked requisite approvals. The firm was also accused of violating a few norms.

A wave of panic swept through the Indian cyptocurrency ecosystem.

While the industry was still coming to terms with it, Sathvik Vishwanath, another Unocoin co-founder, was also picked up by the police the next day.

“I knew this was coming after Harish was charged,” Vishwanath, who was granted bail on Friday (Oct. 26), recounted to Quartz. “I was at home that morning, trying to figure out what needs to be done to get Harish out of police custody, when the officials came to my house. They took me for questioning and later I was also charged and sent to judicial custody.”

Harish’s bail application is likely to be heard today (Oct. 30) at a district magistrate court in Bengaluru.

Policing cryptocurrencies

“The ATM kiosk installed by Unocoin at Kemp Fort Mall has not taken any permission from the state government and is dealing in cryptocurrency outside the remit of the law,” the police’s cybercrime department had said following Harish’s arrest.

However, Unocoin argues that no permission is required to run the bitcoin booth. “It is a kiosk that is being set inside the mall and the mall would have had already taken trade permissions,” said Swaroop Anand, the lawyer representing the Unocoin directors. “Therefore, there was no need for Unocoin to take any other permission and there had not been any violation of licence requirements.”

Further, the police, in a statement after the arrests, warned the public to stay away from the cryptocurrency business to avoid getting duped. ”I have no idea where they (the police) are getting this false information from. For instance, they also told me we promised 2x returns and are trying to cheat customers. We have never made such claims nor have there been any complaints against us for swindling customers,” said Vishwanath.

The police’s negative attitude stems from ignorance of digital currencies and also from certain media articles that have deemed cryptocurrencies as illegal in India, he said.

Besides, there was also a branding disaster that Unocoin admittedly did not foresee.

A branding blunder?

It is possible that the word “ATM” sparked the confusion, believes Vishwanath.

“It is just a kiosk which enables our customers to transact with us and not really an ATM that requires the banking regulator’s approval,” he added. Vishwanath acknowledges that this was an inadvertent marketing error on the firm’s part. In the branding of the booth, as well as in earlier communications to the public, Unocoin had referred to the machine as an ATM.

Unocoin

It is likely that if the word ATM had been left out, the law enforcement agencies would not have taken such a hostile view.

“It just added fuel to the fire,” said another lawyer who deals with cryptocurrency-related cases, requesting anonymity. “There is a sense of legitimacy attached to the word ‘ATM’ as it typically gives the impression that it is a part of the banking channel. This led to more anxiety among the police as they possibly thought it was a mis-representation.”

Non-banking entities, which include cryptocurrency exchanges, are not allowed to set up or operate ATMs, according to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) norms, Unocoin had explained in a blog post in January 2018.

However, since these machines were only going to work as cash deposit and dispensing machines for Unocoin customers, and had nothing to do with banking channels, there had not been any need for Unocoin to take any permission from the RBI, Vishwanath had told Quartz earlier.

An email sent to the RBI to clarify this remained unanswered.

The duo has reportedly also been booked for forgery and cheating. Again, this could have been avoided or the risks could have been mitigated if it had been branded differently. “When you are talking about taking public money and also giving it back to them, it sounds like an alternative to a banking channel, which can then spark suspicions of money laundering among law enforcement agencies,” said the lawyer quoted above.

On paper at least, bitcoin and its ilk are not illegal in India. Yet, there is a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to its legal status.

The crackdown?

Last year, India’s finance minister Arun Jaitley had said the country doesn’t recognise cryptocurrencies as legal tender. This was generally misconstrued as “illegal,” say cryptocurrency officials. In reality, this only means that cryptocoins don’t have the same status as a sovereign currency and may not be accepted for completing a financial transaction, say experts.

But the interpretation has not dispelled doubts from the minds of ordinary citizens. Both the government and the banking regulator have made it amply clear that they are not comfortable with cryptocurrencies. Then, some activists had also been campaigning and writing against the Unocoin ATM, which also may have played a role in this fiasco.

Vijayashankar Na, a Bengaluru-based cyber security expert, had written to police officials several times against Unocoin’s ATM. “I know these companies run the business online; the ATM is a more visible approach which also shows they are taking it a step further and it is an attack on the Indian financial system,” he told Quartz.

What began as legal ambiguity has now escalated into a full-blown crisis in the system, culminating in the arrest of the Unocoin founders.

Troubled exchanges

Harish and Vishwanath’s arrest has sent a chill through India’s cryptocurrency market.

The two had set up Unocoin in 2013. The company now has nearly 1.3 million customers and 45 investors across five countries. Despite a spate of cryptocurrency-related crimes, Unocoin had never been pulled up by authorities.

The arrest of Unocoin’s founders, therefore, has rattled the community.

“I am scared, honestly. What if they arrest me next for something? I don’t want to go to the jail!” rued the head of another cryptocurrency exchange requesting anonymity. “For a couple of days the mood in the industry was, ‘Screw it, what is the point of anything if cops are going to randomly come and shut us down one fine day?’,” said the CEO of another exchange.

After arresting Harish and seizing the kiosk, the police officials also seized two laptops, a mobile, three credit cards, five debit cards, a passport, five seals of the Unocoin company, a cryptocurrency device, and Rs1.8 lakh ($2,500) from him, officials said.

Several people from the cryptocurrency industry that Quartz spoke to over the last one week believe the police crossed the line by arresting the founders and sending them to judicial custody. It was meant to serve as a message and reflects the hostile crypto-environment in the country.

“They could have had asked for clarifications, issued a penalty, or there are many other simpler ways in which this could have been dealt with instead of making us look like criminals,” said Vishwanath.

The officials have suggested that since Vishwanath was arrested a day later, he could have deleted the Know Your Customer (KYC)-related documents from his laptop, a possible hint at money laundering, believe experts.

“But why will I keep the KYC document on my personal laptop to begin with? These things are stored on the company server and are still there. I am really curious to see what they are going to find from the other laptops they have seized from us,” explains Vishwanath.

Want to read more from Nupur Anand? Subscribe to Quartz Private Key—Quartz’s premium crypto newsletter, delivered twice weekly.

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Stellar AfricaGold – Balandougou Gravity Mill Efficieny Review Complete and Adjustments Underway

Stellar is pleased to announce that the review of processing operations at the … John Cumming, President & CEO, Stellar AfricaGold Inc. … aluminum and electricity); changes in U.S. dollar and other currency exchange rates, interest …

Stellar AfricaGold – Balandougou Gravity Mill Efficieny Review Complete and Adjustments Underway

TSX VENTURE: SPX

www.stellarafricagold.ca

Mr. John Cumming reports:

Vancouver, July 25, 2018 / TheNewswire / John Cumming,President and Chief Executive Officer of Stellar AfricaGold Inc., (TSX-V: SPX) (“Stellar” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce:

Gravity Mill Efficiency Review Complete and Adjustments Underway

Stellar is pleased to announce that the review of processing operations at the Balandougou gravity mill is complete. Several processing inefficiencies were identified including the efficacy of the grinding within the ball mill, the configuration of the Knelson concentrators and the adjustment of the shaking table. Corrective measures to improve these production inefficiencies and increase the gold recovery are underway and the necessary changes and upgrades together with other minor adjustments to the plant equipment are expected to be completed by the end of August at which time processing of the 15,000 tons bulk sample of B3 Zone gold mineralization will resume.

Management Commentary

“Following the temporary cessation of processing activities in early July, an intensive review of processing operations including consultations with Stellar’s on-site technical team, other mining operators and mining equipment providers was undertaken” commented Stellar COO Maurice Giroux.

Mr. Giroux further explained “The free gold within the B3 oxide Zone ranges from ‘fine’ to ‘very fine’ and for maximum gold recovery it is essential that all of the individual components within the mill circuit operate at peak efficiency and at full capacity.

The gold within the B3 sheared zone gold is of two types; either it is free gold after the oxidization of the host material or has resisted oxidation and remains contained within the quartz veins. The Ball Mill, the last component within the primary and secondary crushing lines, is designed to pulverize incoming quartz from the secondary crusher down to smaller than 0.1millimeter. However, a notable amount of the input quartz was only being crushed to between 0.5 and 1.0 centimeter in size which had to be screened out of the circuit because they were too large to be pumped into the Knelson Concentrators. An offsite grinding test on 2 tons of those oversized quartz pieces revealed that the rejected quartz contained approximately 1.25g/t Au, a significant amount of unrecovered gold. The Company is now adapting a closed circuit which will return the oversized quartz to the Ball Mill for reprocessing.

Following constructive discussions with several other experts in gravity gold recovery, the Company is also altering the configuration of their two Knelson Concentrators. The Concentrators will be reinstalled in series rather than parallel as they previously. Stellar is also seeking a Falcon Concentrator to add it as a third concentrator in the concentration circuit. A Falcon Concentrator, which is exceptionally efficient at the recovery of very fine gold, i.e. smaller than 10 microns in size, would capture the very fine gold that was not captured by the two Knelsons. However, the search for a Falcon concentrator will not delay restarting processing operations at the mill.

Finally, the size of the slurry basin between the Ball Mill and the Knelsons will be doubled to increase overall processing capacity.”

ABOUT STELLAR AFRICAGOLD INC.

Stellar AfricaGold Inc. is a Canadian gold exploration company with offices in Vancouver, BC and Montreal, QC, and operations concentrated in West Africa and in Quebec.

In addition to developing its Balandougou Gold Project in Guinea including construction of a 150 tonnes per day gravity mill (construction completed) to process a 15,000 tonnes bulk sample to test the commercial economics of gravity extraction only. In Quebec, the Company owns 100% of the Opawica Project in the Chibougamau mining camp.

The technical content of this press release has been reviewed and approved by independent consultant Greg Isenor, P. Geo, a Qualified Person as defined in NI 43-101.

For further information please contact:

John Cumming, President & CEO, Stellar AfricaGold Inc.

4908 Pine Crescent, Vancouver, BC, V6M 3P6, .

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or

Maurice Giroux, VP Exploration, Stellar AfricaGold Inc.,

1035 West Laurier Street, Suite 201, Montreal, QC H2V 2L1

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Additional information is available on the Company’s website at www.stellarafricagold.com.

On Behalf of the Board

John Cumming, LLM

President & CEO

This release contains certain “forward-looking information” under applicable Canadian securities laws concerning the Arrangement. Forward-looking information reflects the Company’s current internal expectations or beliefs and is based on information currently available to the Company. In some cases forward-looking information can be identified by terminology such as “may”, “will”, “should”, “expect”, “intend”, “plan”, “anticipate”, “believe”, “estimate”, “projects”, “potential”, “scheduled”, “forecast”, “budget” or the negative of those terms or other comparable terminology. Assumptions upon which such forward-looking information is based includes, among others, that the conditions to closing of the Arrangement will be satisfied and that the Arrangement will be completed on the terms set out in the definitive agreement. Many of these assumptions are based on factors and events that are not within the control of the Company, and there is no assurance they will prove to be correct or accurate. Risk factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those predicted herein include, without limitation: that the remaining conditions to the Arrangement will not be satisfied; that the business prospects and opportunities of the Company will not proceed as anticipated; changes in the global prices for gold or certain other commodities (such as diesel, aluminum and electricity); changes in U.S. dollar and other currency exchange rates, interest rates or gold lease rates; risks arising from holding derivative instruments; the level of liquidity and capital resources; access to capital markets, financing and interest rates; mining tax regimes; ability to successfully integrate acquired assets; legislative, political or economic developments in the jurisdictions in which the Company carries on business; operating or technical difficulties in connection with mining or development activities; laws and regulations governing the protection of the environment; employee relations; availability and increasing costs associated with mining inputs and labour; the speculative nature of exploration and development; contests over title to properties, particularly title to undeveloped properties; and the risks involved in the exploration, development and mining business. Risks and unknowns inherent in all projects include the inaccuracy of estimated reserves and resources, metallurgical recoveries, capital and operating costs of such projects, and the future prices for the relevant minerals.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

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Doing The Math On Quartz’s Exit

… Street Group, the firm behind the popular e-commerce platform Pinduoduo, filed for a $1 billion IPO. Backers include Tencent and Sequoia Capital.

Morning Report:A few numbers to keep in mind as Quartz finds a new home.

Quartz, the chart-heavy and generally good publication, has been acquired. Per Quartz itself, the company will be sold by its parent Atlantic Media to the Japanese media shop Uzabase for “between $75 million and $110 million,” with the final price determined by the performance of the asset in “the remainder of 2018.”

Our question is simple: Is that a good exit?

We only have a few data points to tinker with. Here’s what we can glean from historical and recent media reports (see if you can spot why Atlantic probably sold Quartz):

  • Quartz 2013 revenue. $3.8 million (source)
  • Quartz 2014 revenue. $10 million, +163 percent (source)
  • Quartz 2015 revenue. $18.6 million +86 percent (source)
  • Quartz 2016 revenue. $30 million, +60 percent (source)
  • Quartz 2017 revenue. $28 million -7 percent (source)

And here’s that same story in a chart:

Two more facts and figures: Quartz was profitable in 2016 but was not in 2017. And the company is “on pace to increase revenue by as much as 35% in 2018,” per the Wall Street Journal. That would imply an estimated $38 million revenue result for Quartz this year.

With that number, Quartz will sell between 3.6x t0 5.3x its 2018 revenue, presuming the firm reaches the $38 million mark. If it doesn’t, the firm will likely not get the full dollar for its shares, implying a reduced revenue multiple. But we can only do so much with the few numbers we have.

So how does a revenue multiple of 3.6x to 5.3x stack up against other media exits? Per Poynter, here are two data points:

  • “Digital media companies tend to sell for between 2.5 and 5 times (2.5–5x) revenues from the previous, or ‘trailing,’ 12 months.”
  • “Looking ahead, prices paid tend fall between 3–7x the predicted forward revenues for the upcoming 12 months.”

Since we are using a full-year 2018 revenue figure at the half-year mark, we’re splitting the difference. We might expect, say, a revenue multiple of 4 to 4.5 given those two ranges.

And this is about where the company is going to fall, presuming that it doesn’t fully earn out. What we can say with reasonable confidence is that Quartz isn’t a fire sale or a trend-breaking exit. It’s somewhere in the realm of normal.

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Tenable files for IPO

Cybersecurity provider Tenable has filed to go public, the latest planned offering amid a busy period for tech IPO news. The filing follows several quarters of sharp revenue growth for Tenable, which previously raised more than $300 million in venture funding.

Pinduoduo parent to go public

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