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Build a better Google – this German has chances

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Grew up temporarily in Ethiopia as the son of two GDR scientists: AI pioneer and two-time founder Richard Socher.
picture alliance / | Sebastian Gabriel/Picture Alliance for DLD/Hubert Burda Media

Curly red hair, three-day beard, glasses with round lenses in narrow, round horn frames. And always smiling. The nerd version of Ed Sheeran was once dubbed Richard Socher, and you can see where the idea came from. Born in Dresden, he is definitely a star: Socher is one of the most important international experts in artificial intelligence. More precisely: for Large Language Models – i.e. AI based on huge language data sets. Who now thinks of the hype topic ChatGPT, is exactly right.

Socher studied computer science in Leipzig and Saarbrücken, did research at Princeton University, and then did his doctorate at Stanford. In 2014 he founded the AI ​​startup Metamind, only two years later he sold it to the US tech group Salesforce for 33 million US dollars. Socher worked there as chief scientist until 2020. Socher has big plans for his latest project You.com: The search engine should set new standards, trump Google and be the basis for many new offers. All based on artificial intelligence, of course.

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Above all, this should enable users to ask more complex questions and receive more detailed answers. You.com is supposed to be an anti-Google: For example, you can select the sources from which the search results should come. And above all: how much of their privacy users want to reveal. Socher likes to talk about the possibilities of AI and the importance of privacy. When it comes to his own company, however, he keeps a low profile. For example, he does not want to reveal how many employees You.com have in terms of its size. Just this much: The startup is “still relatively small”. After all, so much is known: 45 million dollars flowed into You.com, the sum also confirms Socher to the start-up scene.

At the DLD tech conference in Munich, we met Richard Socher and talked to him about his latest start-up You.com, the hype surrounding ChatGPT and whether he already has the next exit in mind.

Richard, two and a half years ago you founded You.com – how is the current chat hype affecting the company?

We had already seen good growth in the search engine over the past six months. But above all, the use of our chat service YouChat has really exploded with the GPT hype.

What are your plans for You.com? You sold your first company to Salesforce after just two years – will You.com’s technology soon be part of a software company?

I don’t want to sell the company. My goal is truly to build a great, defining internet company for our generation. I also never intended to sell the first company. But sometimes you have to be pragmatic.

Why a search engine?

A lot has changed on the internet in the past 20 years. Therefore, the search must also adapt. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen that a whole new kind of search can be developed using AI, chat, and large language models.

But it shouldn’t stop there, should it? There are definitely easier ways to make money.

You.com should become a platform on which even a billion-dollar company like TikTok can be based. We hope to use the platform to enable us and others to create new business models. If that doesn’t work, we have to place advertising, like DuckDuckGo does, for example. However, we will not encroach on privacy. You get about 80 percent of the information for a personalized ad from the search queries alone, and the invasion of privacy for the remaining 20 percent is just used to squeeze even more money out of it.

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Which apps will soon be on You.com?

There are actually few limits. At the moment, the most interesting applications are in AI, also because there are already built-in applications that can generate images, write texts or program.

What are the next steps?

The next milestone will come in a few weeks, when we will significantly improve the chat function and integrate it into our apps. What comes after that, I can’t say yet. In three to six months, others will have the features we currently offer. The search engine industry is so competitive right now that it’s best to keep your ideas to yourself.

Can’t you protect that with patents?

Yes, and we will too. To be honest, I find that quite annoying. You can’t do without it so that you can defend your invention. But it slows us down in development, it costs money and time.

Is You.com making money already?

We’re already making some revenue from YouWrite, which is the first app on our platform that requires payment after the free period. This allows texts to be generated on different topics. We see good growth there. For the search engine, we initially decided against advertising because that would tie up capacity and prevent us from developing.

So the turnover is still manageable.

Like most other consumer Internet providers such as Facebook, Google, Youtube or Instagram, we want to concentrate on growth first. Once you get enough users, you’ll find a way to make money. When you grow like we are doing right now, a business plan changes completely anyway.

You.com had strong growth – but the direct competitor is much larger. How do you compete with Google?

It’s very difficult, which is why many investors we spoke to canceled at first. This only works through partnerships, with the browser alternative Vivaldi, for example, You.com can already be selected as a search engine. But most people never change the basic configuration of their cell phone or laptop. That’s why Google pays tens of billions of dollars every year to be the default search engine. Of course we can’t afford that.

Then how are you going to make it?

Luckily, things are very different in the chat area. A lot is happening here right now, new offers are coming onto the market, there are no top dogs. At the same time, ChatGPT caused a lot of hype, which is why You.com was able to attract many new users. Of course, as a founder in the consumer sector, you always hope to achieve such viral growth. Now let’s surf the wave and see how long it lasts.

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You like to refer to You.com as a consumer company. Wouldn’t it be easier to earn money with corporate customers?

Never say Never. (laughs) But it’s not our focus at the moment. Ultimately, it is an open platform. And if someone develops an integration with Notion or Slack, for example, it can of course also be used in companies.

Speech-based AI is currently experiencing a real hype. So is there a lot of competition in the market?

Yes, the competition is incredible. There are very, very many small search engine offerings that are being developed right now. With the new possibilities of AI and language models, completely new offers can be developed. And the fight is hard. Every day someone tries to break into our systems and steal our ideas. That’s why I don’t like to reveal exactly what we plan to do next.

You speak of many small offers. Do the big ones – Google or Microsoft – no longer play a role?

In three to six months they will certainly follow suit with their own AI-based offers. But currently, innovation tends to come from small teams. The big advantage, also from You.com, is that we all start from scratch. This opens up the possibility of developing something fundamentally new.

Source: https://www.businessinsider.de/gruenderszene/technologie/richard-socher-you-com-e/

Floating wind turbine to generate electricity on the Atlantic

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The French company Eolink wants to install a floating wind turbine on the Atlantic. A first prototype is expected to generate electricity on the high seas as early as 2024.

The way we generate energy is constantly evolving. However, this does not always require completely new technologies. The French company Eolink is now showing what the future generation of electricity from wind power could look like. A first prototype is already in development.

The system should not even have to be installed on the seabed. Because the innovative wind turbine should float on the waves and ideally generate significantly more energy on the high seas than classic systems. But the approach also harbors some challenges that Eolink must first overcome.

Floating wind turbine combines several advantages

First, the company wants to erect four support masts arranged at an angle to stabilize the floating wind turbine. The construction resembles a pyramid. So to speak, the rotor is again within this construction. Ballast tanks should additionally stabilize the 143 meter rotor.

The turbine is meanwhile about 30 percent lighter than conventional wind turbines and weighs around 1,100 tons. Easier installation and maintenance reduces electricity production costs by 20 to 25 percent. In turn, Eolink is ahead of the competition, which is also working on such a technology. Because the first prototype should be ready by 2024.

First test facility from 2024 in the Atlantic

Then the test facility in the Atlantic should show whether the concept has a future. The prototype will in turn have an output of five megawatts and will later be able to generate up to 20 megawatts. The concept could therefore set a precedent in the long term.

In the past, energy companies have increasingly tried to generate electricity on the high seas. Because compared to systems on land, these generate significantly more energy. The reasons are the stronger wind and the lack of obstacles that would provide a slipstream. An absolute must for the energy transition of tomorrow.

Also interesting:

Source: https://www.basicthinking.de/blog/2022/12/13/schwimmende-windkraftanlage-atlantik/

Tado: Munich smart home startup receives 43 million euros

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Consumers’ need to save due to the energy crisis means that Tado’s sales are booming. Now the supplier of heating thermostats has won new investors – and wants to become profitable.

In total, Tado has now sold around three million devices across Europe.
dpa

The Munich startup Tado has obtained new money from investors. A total of 43 million euros was raised in a round of financing, as founder Christian Deilmann told the Handelsblatt. The Swedish sustainability fund Trill Impact and Kiko Ventures from London, Swisscanto and Bayern Kapital – the Free State’s venture capital company – invested. The sum with which the investors value the startup was not communicated. A year ago, the valuation was still over 400 million euros.

The startup is one of the German pioneers in the smart home sector. Founded in 2011, Tado offers intelligent heating thermostats. The devices are connected to the Internet and can be controlled either via app or voice assistant. The technology recognizes, for example, whether the occupants are in the house or whether the windows are open. According to the company, the devices are in use in more than 400,000 buildings and households in 20 countries.

Sales of thermostats probably doubled

Especially in the past three years, the business of the Munich company has proven to be profitable. Initially, the startup benefited from the fact that many people spent more time at home during the corona pandemic and wanted to optimize their heating costs. This trend intensified again with the energy crisis resulting from the Ukraine war. “We benefit from the high energy prices,” Deilmann told Handelsblatt. Sales are said to have been around 100 million euros last year – double the figure for the previous year.

Tado co-founder Christian Deilmann assumes that the boom will continue. The pace of growth should also be maintained in 2023, and the startup is also aiming for a step into the profit zone. Then they want to consider an IPO again – a first attempt at a SPAC failed last year. It was heard from corporate circles that Tado and the Spac owners could not agree on an assessment.

Source: https://www.businessinsider.de/gruenderszene/technologie/tado-finanzierungsrunde-43-millionen-euro-2023-a/

Check hard drive for errors

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The hard drive is one of the most important parts of a computer because important files, including the operating system, are stored there. A defective or damaged hard disk can impair the entire function of the computer.
Therefore, the hard disk should be checked regularly for errors.

What types of hard drives are there?

Hard drives are in most cases either HDDs (Hard Drive Disk) or SSDs (Solid State Drive). HDDs have a read/write head, which is why they generate noise during operation.
SSDs, on the other hand, don’t generate any noise because they are based on flash memory. They are safer, faster and often more expensive than HDDs.

Hard drives are available as internal and external hard drives.

An internal hard drive is built directly into the laptop or PC and thus represents the direct memory of the system. An external hard drive serves as storage expansion and is used, for example, to carry out backups or data transfers. External hard drives can be connected to the computer via a USB cable.

types of hard drives
Hard drives are in most cases either HDDs (Hard Drive Disk) or SSDs (Solid State Drive) | Foto: © Maksym Yemelyanov #323405056 – stock.adobe.com

How do you know that the hard drive is no longer working properly?

In most cases, there are certain signs that indicate that the hard drive is about to fail. The following warning signs can indicate problems with the hard drive:

  • Uncommon noises: Clicking noises from the hard drive can indicate this. That the power supply to the hard drive is erratic or there is physical damage. Other noises that sound like grinding or rubbing can also indicate a broken hard drive.
  • Constant crashing: Frequent computer crashes or sudden restarts can also indicate problems with the hard drive.
  • Disappeared Data: If data on the PC has disappeared or is no longer accessible, this can also be a sign of a hard drive failure.
  • Very slow access times: If it takes an unusually long time to open a folder or empty the recycle bin, for example, the hard drive may fail some time later.
  • Access denied message: If you try to access the hard drive or a partition and get the error message “Access is denied”, it means that the system cannot find the hard drive or a specific partition in it. This could be due to a loose connection or corrupt memory.
  • The hard drive is no longer recognized: Damage to the hard drive is particularly obvious when the PC no longer recognizes it. This problem can occur if the cable connecting the hard drive is loose or damaged. Water or physical damage can also trigger this problem.
hard drive in the PC
In most cases, there are certain signs that indicate that the hard drive is about to fail | Photo: © Vadym #217700626 – stock.adobe.com

Check hard drive for errors

If one or more of these signs have appeared, the hard drive should be checked for errors.

Regular testing of the hard drive can help to correct errors in good time and thus avoid major damage.

Test hard drive with Windows

First, the Windows Explorer is opened via the folder icon, which is usually linked in the taskbar. Then click on the “This PC” or “Computer” heading, which is located on the left side of the window. Then right-click on the hard drive partition, which is usually marked with a “C”. From there, select the “Properties” option from the menu.

In the newly opened window, select the “Tools” tab and then the “Error Checking” item. Click on “Check” and then on “Scan Now”. When the check is complete, Windows will let you know if any problems were found. If this is the case, Windows offers some troubleshooting functions, such as the repair run.

Test hard drive with Mac

First, the “Disk Utility” must be started. This can be found, for example, by opening the utilities from the Finder. The hard disk to be checked is selected on the left side of the window.
Then click on “First Aid” and run the “First Aid Check” on the hard drive. If you click on the arrow next to “Show details”, you can display exactly what is currently being checked during the check. If problems found are pointed out at the end of the check, you should follow the instructions on the screen.

Source: https://blogg.de/festplatte-auf-fehler-ueberpruefen/

Slow Internet: Consumer advocates criticize reduction rights

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If the internet is too slow, consumers are entitled to a reduction in their fee. But the conclusion after one year of the reduction right is mixed.

Exactly one year ago, the reduction right came into force. Since then, consumers have been able to apply for a discount from their internet provider if they get less fast internet than contractually agreed.

But although the measurements of the landline bandwidth very often result in a claim for a reduction, the consumer advocates are not satisfied with the price reductions granted, like the Spiegel reported.

Right of reduction: Too few measurements are completed

According to the Federal Network Agency, consumers completed around 28,000 measurements between mid-December 2021 and the end of October 2022. However, the Federal Network Agency counted around 15,000 of them by the end of February.

The Federal Network Agency provides a tool for measuring the speed of the internet. Users can call this up via Broadbandmeasuring.de and use it either in the browser or via a desktop app.

Since December 13, 2021, the desktop app has been downloaded around 100,000 times. However, the measurements would take a lot of time, which is why consumers did not complete them.

This could also be due to the fact that 30 tests have to be carried out over three days. Only then does the broadband meter create a log.

Measurements almost always result in a reduction claim

According to Bundesnetzagentur President Klaus Müller, the measurement tool has “established itself well after a year”. “We help thousands of consumers to prove their provider is underperforming.”

However, consumer advocates see things differently. Because the measurements are too complex and not user-friendly.

After the measurement, there is also no precise indication of how high the reduction claim for users is. You would first have to clarify this with your provider.

However, they rejected the reduction “usually or do not react, although the necessary documents were submitted,” criticized the Federal Association of Consumer Advice Centers. For consumers, it is sometimes “not explained in a comprehensible way, even on request, how the reduction amount comes about”.

Slow Internet and reduction rights: That’s what the providers say

However, ISPs see the low number of measurements as a sign of their improved performance. “In our opinion, the overall very low number of complaints clearly shows that the vast majority of users feel well taken care of with their Internet connections,” he quotes Spiegel Jürgen Grützner from the association of providers of telecommunications and value-added services.

The providers are trying to solve “the concerns in customer service” and “without the formal procedure via the Federal Network Agency”.

According to Vodafone, “only very few fixed-line customers have so far applied for a reduction”. These were “of course granted in justified cases”.

“The number of complaints is at a low level in the low three-digit number per week,” said a spokesman for Telekom. The group takes care of “every case” and is “always looking for accommodating solutions”.

Also interesting:

Source: https://www.basicthinking.de/blog/2022/12/13/internet-minderungsrecht/

Sensors are said to reduce water consumption by 70 percent

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Through the use of innovative sensors, agriculture should soon be much more sustainable. According to studies, technology could reduce water consumption in the industry by up to 70 percent.

Humanity is currently struggling with unprecedented problems. Climate change is progressing and poses great challenges. At the same time, it is important to feed more and more people worldwide. No wonder, then, that agriculture is considered one of the biggest greenhouse gas sinners. But the latest technology could soon provide a remedy.

Because as of today, many processes in agriculture are still based on estimates. This applies to both the use of fertilizer and water consumption. Data is becoming more and more reliable and efficient. Despite this, agriculture continues to waste too many resources in the production of food – especially water.

Agriculture uses huge amounts of water

The number of droughts is increasing every year. However, new sensors could turn the tide of wasting resources. Because up-to-date data can help farmers water their plants as needed. As a result, the water requirement could drop by up to 70 percent.

For this purpose, sensors are planted in addition to the seeds in the ground. These in turn use wireless technologies to transmit the current condition of the soil to a control center at any time. As a result, farmers only have to fertilize and water when the plants actually need it.

New sensors should reduce water consumption

According to initial estimates, the savings could amount to between 20 and 72 percent. However, the technology also brings with it some challenges. If we use these in soil in agriculture, the range of transmission is severely limited. It therefore requires several base stations that record and forward the data.

There is also another important factor: the price. Because water and temporary workers are still comparatively inexpensive. If the sensors cost significantly more money, that would deter many farmers. However, this should not be the solution if the sector wants to become climate-neutral in the long term. However, subsidies would be a means to an end.

Also interesting:

Source: https://www.basicthinking.de/blog/2022/12/13/landwirtschaft-sensoren/

Chat GPT: This is the man behind the artificial intelligence

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Sam Altman founded the company Open AI in 2015, which is behind the chatbot GPT. This is his story.

Sam Altman is the founder of Open AI, the company behind Chat GPT.
Steve Jennings / Freelance photographer

The chatbot GPT is making waves. With artificial intelligence, math problems can be solved within seconds and entire books can even be analysed.

The company behind the chatbot is Open AI. It was founded in 2015 by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Sam Altman, among others. The latter is now the managing director of Open AI.

In addition to the AI ​​company, Altman is also a co-founder of Worldcoin. The startup wants to launch a cryptocurrency and give everyone a free share. However, so that the share can only be claimed once, people’s eyes are to be scanned.

Never have to do your own homework again – that’s what a creator promises in a 30-second video on the short video platform Tiktok. The reason for this full-bodied promise is not a reform of the school system, but the chatbot GPT. Tasks can be assigned to the artificial intelligence on a mobile phone, laptop or tablet – simply by typing in a command or a question.

In said video, the user Sketch & Talk wants GPT to write an analysis of Wolfgang von Goethe’s book Faust. The result is actually a complete analysis of the book. Chat GPT works. And not just in the Tiktok video. Others use artificial intelligence to write seminar papers for the university or solve math problems. AI bloggers and other experts in the scene are enthusiastic.

Open AI is behind Chat GPT

The US company Open AI is behind the chatbot. The boss is the programmer Sam Altman. The 37-year-old is considered a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence. For him it is clear: the next economic revolution is already imminent. “The technological advances we make in the next 100 years will be far greater than anything we’ve made since we controlled fire and invented the wheel,” he wrote on Twitter.

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Altman founded Open AI in 2015 with Tesla CEO Elon Musk. At that time, the joint project was still running as a non-profit research institute. The declared goal was to research artificial intelligence and develop new models. These should then be shared with the public. But the philanthropic idea was short-lived. Just four years after it was founded, the project changed its name – away from a research institute to a company that can and should make money. Today, Open AI not only develops the chatbot, but also, for example, Dall E, a program that creates images based on text descriptions.

Tesla boss Elon Musk was one of the founders of Open AI.

Tesla boss Elon Musk was one of the founders of Open AI.
Susan Walsh/AP

It was clear early on that Altman was interested in technology. He got his first computer at the age of eight and started programming on it, various media reports. He later studied computer science at Stanford University, but dropped out in 2005. That same year, he founded Loopt, a company that allowed cell phone users to share their location with individuals. However, the great success did not materialize. Loopt was later sold for $43.4 million.

Altman gained greater notoriety in the scene when he joined the startup investor Y Combinator. Y Combinator supports startups with around seven percent of the shares with an investment of 125,000 dollars (equivalent to around 117,000 euros). In 2011, Altman first became a partner at the Californian company, and in 2014 its president. Under his leadership, the investment vehicle expanded. Altman’s commitment paid off: In 2015, the influential US magazine “Forbes” named him one of the top investors under the age of 30. In 2020, Altman left Y Combinator to, by his own admission, focus more on Open AI.

Altman co-founded a crypto startup

Instead, Altman launched what is probably his most bizarre endeavor that same year: He co-founded Worldcoin. The startup wants to launch its own cryptocurrency. The special feature: Every person in the world should receive a free share of the currency. The self-declared goal is to democratize crypto and make it accessible to the general public.

Altman’s team developed the “Orb” so that each person can only claim this free portion once. This scans the human eye to translate the information into a numerical code. The code is intended to identify whether people have already received their share. Critics, including the whistleblower Edward Snowden, do not see the future in this, but rather a dystopia. Snowden wrote, among other things, on Twitter: “Don’t catalog eyeballs”.

Meanwhile, the chatbot GPT continues to gain momentum and is already causing fears in some people that their own job could soon be superfluous. Apparently Altman sees it similarly, although he looks at this topic less with fear and much more with euphoria: “We can imagine AI doctors who provide better diagnoses than any human being,” he writes in an essay.

Source: https://www.businessinsider.de/gruenderszene/technologie/das-ist-der-mann-hinter-der-kuenstlichen-intelligenz-chat-gpt-a/

Why “Artificial Intelligence” is often just a deceptive marketing term

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Artificial Intelligence: What is it anyway? In fact, there is no clear definition of the term. There is also a wide gap between ideas and reality. The bottom line is that artificial intelligence is one thing above all: a marketing term. A comment.

“Artificial Intelligence” (AI) is on everyone’s lips. The term is a hit with numerous media in particular. Because he provides enough fodder for sensational reports. If you believe the reports, artificial intelligence will save us from climate change, soon be smarter than humans or simply wipe out humanity.

It now seems as if there is hardly a utopia or dystopia that is not related to artificial intelligence. But it is apparently just as unclear what consequences and possibilities AI has as the question of what artificial intelligence actually is.

Marketing: what actually is artificial intelligence?

Because not everything that says AI on it also has AI in it. However, one thing that artificial intelligence is now definitely is: a deceptive marketing term. Because if some manufacturers have their way, their washing machines, refrigerators and coffee machines will be based on artificial intelligence.

The advertisement for a Swiss electronics manufacturer in particular caught my eye recently – and it read like a bad joke. “Artificial intelligence: The most frequently purchased products are automatically ranked first to fourth,” it said. A prime example of how to take artificial intelligence ad absurdum.

Data-based products are far from being AI

Because with AI it is – as much as the common definitions suggest – to put it bluntly, an attempt to teach a computer how to think and learn and thus make it artificially intelligent, so to speak.

Instead of data-based programming, the focus is primarily on independent answers, independent problem solving and independence in general.

However, a machine that, due to its data-based programming, knows that the number seven is higher than the number six is ​​far from being “artificial intelligence”. However, one thing is clear: AIs are always based on data. And the following applies: a lot helps a lot.

Artificial Intelligence: Just a Misleading Marketing Term?

But there is a difference whether a so-called “artificial intelligence” can develop a context itself or whether the programming tells it to do so. In this respect, one could certainly speak of misleading, especially in the marketing and advertising industries.

The problem with this: Both coffee machine manufacturers and realistic “artificial intelligences” such as the “Chat GPT” language model, which is currently making headlines, make their “artificial intelligence” a trade secret.

An example: A so-called AI, which knows that the digits six and seven are numbers, cannot know which is higher without being taught it. However, an AI like Chat GPT, which incorporates a joke into an answer on command or draws independent conclusions from data, comes much closer to contextualized independence.

Unless the coffee machine decides to stop supplying humanity with the popular pick-me-up. After all, it is always the human being who makes something “artificially” intelligent.

Also interesting:

Source: https://www.basicthinking.de/blog/2022/12/13/kuenstliche-intelligenz-marketingbegriff/

Printed solar cells are designed to generate electricity on any surface

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Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have apparently managed to print solar cells that are as thin as a piece of paper. With the help of nanotechnology, they should be able to generate electricity on almost any surface – and extremely efficiently.

The expansion of photovoltaic systems is progressing. In this country, installed systems are already making an important contribution to the energy transition. According to reports from the Fraunhofer Institute, Germany is now generating a total of 59 gigawatts from the sun.

Nevertheless, the expansion of technology always creates new challenges, such as the availability of space. After all, many systems still require a lot of space. Researchers from the Massechusets Institute of Technology (MIT) have now developed a solar cell that can be attached to almost any surface and is only as thick as paper.

Printed solar cells: thin as paper, but efficient and stable

Nanotechnology makes this possible. The Dyneema material forms the fabric onto which the researchers print the solar cell using semi-conductive ink. This fabric is already used today in bulletproof vests or work clothing and is particularly stable. As innovative as the approach sounds, the procedure is not new.

Years ago, scientists succeeded in printing a solar cell onto thin structures. At that time, however, the price was the limiting factor and posed a problem. With the semi-conductive ink and the particularly stable Dyneema, this could soon change. The application scenarios are diverse.

Solar energy: technology is a hundred times lighter and more powerful

For example, it should be possible to print the solar cells on tents, sails or drones. Because the technology is not only a hundred times lighter, but also more powerful than conventional photovoltaic modules. The research results from MIT speak of an 18-fold performance of the printed solar cells.

However, it is still unclear whether and when the technology will conquer the market. However, the research results can now serve as a basis for setting up mass production and scaling the approach. Then one day many products could not only fulfill their regular purpose, but also serve as a power plant.

Also interesting:

Source: https://www.basicthinking.de/blog/2022/12/14/gedruckte-solarzellen/

Building a better Google – this German has a chance

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Grew up temporarily in Ethiopia as the son of two GDR scientists: AI pioneer and two-time founder Richard Socher.
picture alliance / | Sebastian Gabriel/Picture Alliance for DLD/Hubert Burda Media

Curly red hair, three-day beard, glasses with round lenses in narrow, round horn frames. And always smiling. The nerd version of Ed Sheeran was once dubbed Richard Socher, and you can see where the idea came from. Born in Dresden, he is definitely a star: Socher is one of the most important international experts in artificial intelligence. More precisely: for Large Language Models – i.e. AI based on huge language data sets. Who now thinks of the hype topic ChatGPT, is exactly right.

Socher studied computer science in Leipzig and Saarbrücken, did research at Princeton University, and then did his doctorate at Stanford. In 2014 he founded the AI ​​startup Metamind, only two years later he sold it to the US tech group Salesforce for 33 million US dollars. Socher worked there as chief scientist until 2020. Socher has big plans for his latest project You.com: The search engine should set new standards, trump Google and be the basis for many new offers. All based on artificial intelligence, of course.

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What can AI bring to a company – and what not?

Above all, this should enable users to ask more complex questions and receive more detailed answers. You.com is supposed to be an anti-Google: For example, you can select the sources from which the search results should come. And above all: how much of their privacy users want to reveal. Socher likes to talk about the possibilities of AI and the importance of privacy. When it comes to his own company, however, he keeps a low profile. For example, he does not want to reveal how many employees You.com have in terms of its size. Just this much: The startup is “still relatively small”. After all, so much is known: 45 million dollars flowed into You.com, the sum also confirms Socher to the start-up scene.

At the DLD tech conference in Munich, we met Richard Socher and talked to him about his latest start-up You.com, the hype surrounding ChatGPT and whether he already has the next exit in mind.

Richard, two and a half years ago you founded You.com – how is the current chat hype affecting the company?

We had already seen good growth in the search engine over the past six months. But above all, the use of our chat service YouChat has really exploded with the GPT hype.

What are your plans for You.com? You sold your first company to Salesforce after just two years – will You.com’s technology soon be part of a software company?

I don’t want to sell the company. My goal is truly to build a great, defining internet company for our generation. I also never intended to sell the first company. But sometimes you have to be pragmatic.

Why a search engine?

A lot has changed on the internet in the past 20 years. Therefore, the search must also adapt. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen that a whole new kind of search can be developed using AI, chat, and large language models.

But it shouldn’t stop there, should it? There are definitely easier ways to make money.

You.com should become a platform on which even a billion-dollar company like TikTok can be based. We hope to use the platform to enable us and others to create new business models. If that doesn’t work, we have to place advertising, like DuckDuckGo does, for example. However, we will not encroach on privacy. You get about 80 percent of the information for a personalized ad from the search queries alone, and the invasion of privacy for the remaining 20 percent is just used to squeeze even more money out of it.

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Which apps will soon be on You.com?

There are actually few limits. At the moment, the most interesting applications are in AI, also because there are already built-in applications that can generate images, write texts or program.

What are the next steps?

The next milestone will come in a few weeks, when we will significantly improve the chat function and integrate it into our apps. What comes after that, I can’t say yet. In three to six months, others will have the features we currently offer. The search engine industry is so competitive right now that it’s best to keep your ideas to yourself.

Can’t you protect that with patents?

Yes, and we will too. To be honest, I find that quite annoying. You can’t do without it so that you can defend your invention. But it slows us down in development, it costs money and time.

Is You.com making money already?

We’re already making some revenue from YouWrite, which is the first app on our platform that requires payment after the free period. This allows texts to be generated on different topics. We see good growth there. For the search engine, we initially decided against advertising because that would tie up capacity and prevent us from developing.

So the turnover is still manageable.

Like most other consumer Internet providers such as Facebook, Google, Youtube or Instagram, we want to concentrate on growth first. Once you get enough users, you’ll find a way to make money. When you grow like we are doing right now, a business plan changes completely anyway.

You.com had strong growth – but the direct competitor is much larger. How do you compete with Google?

It’s very difficult, which is why many investors we spoke to canceled at first. This only works through partnerships, with the browser alternative Vivaldi, for example, You.com can already be selected as a search engine. But most people never change the basic configuration of their cell phone or laptop. That’s why Google pays tens of billions of dollars every year to be the default search engine. Of course we can’t afford that.

Then how are you going to make it?

Luckily, things are very different in the chat area. A lot is happening here right now, new offers are coming onto the market, there are no top dogs. At the same time, ChatGPT caused a lot of hype, which is why You.com was able to attract many new users. Of course, as a founder in the consumer sector, you always hope to achieve such viral growth. Now let’s surf the wave and see how long it lasts.

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You like to refer to You.com as a consumer company. Wouldn’t it be easier to earn money with corporate customers?

Never say Never. (laughs) But it’s not our focus at the moment. Ultimately, it is an open platform. And if someone develops an integration with Notion or Slack, for example, it can of course also be used in companies.

Speech-based AI is currently experiencing a real hype. So is there a lot of competition in the market?

Yes, the competition is incredible. There are very, very many small search engine offerings that are being developed right now. With the new possibilities of AI and language models, completely new offers can be developed. And the fight is hard. Every day someone tries to break into our systems and steal our ideas. That’s why I don’t like to reveal exactly what we plan to do next.

You speak of many small offers. Do the big ones – Google or Microsoft – no longer play a role?

In three to six months they will certainly follow suit with their own AI-based offers. But currently, innovation tends to come from small teams. The big advantage, also from You.com, is that we all start from scratch. This opens up the possibility of developing something fundamentally new.

Source: https://www.businessinsider.de/gruenderszene/technologie/richard-socher-you-com-a/

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