Betaworks’ new ‘camp’ aims to fund innovative early-stage AI startups

Applications of AI

Image credit: beta works

In a sign that the seed-stage AI segment is still alive and active, startup studio and VC Betaworks has announced a new $500,000 funding round to about 10 companies working on AI. launching the program.

Scheduled to run from mid-June to mid-September, Betaworks’ program (the ninth of its kind) will highlight benefits such as business-building curriculum and accelerated computing from companies like Hugging Face and Stability AI. provides startup access to This is in addition to one-on-one mentorship hours, events and activities, as well as “collaboration opportunities” with other Betaworks cohort ventures.

This program is not an accelerator. Betaworks describes it as “camping”. Rather than writing small checks to companies in various categories, the company looks at the “evolution” of technology and bets on cohorts that are creating or defining new categories.

“This is the biggest technological change of my life,” Betaworks CEO John Borthwick said in an email interview with TechCrunch. , has been making investments, but everything has changed in the last 12 months. [OpenAI’s] Last year’s DALL-E 2 offered stability and open, affordable access to these models with GPT. AI has the potential to impact all areas and affect every part of our lives, work, play and even death. “

Betaworks, in a new “camp” also hosted by Mozilla Ventures and Greycroft, is seeking companies to create AI tools that “extend the way humans act, create, play, work and think.” For example, according to Borthwick, this could be the startup thinking about his UI, which focuses on the context of interactions over time, and the infrastructure needed to enable human collaboration alongside AI tools. It could be a venture you’re exploring.

“AI stacks are not yet fully defined,” said Borthwick. “Just like in the early days of the Internet, extraordinary companies will be built that provide the infrastructure and basic tools, and we will see the middleware and applications that will become part of our lives and power almost everything we do. I guess.”

When asked about the legal issues facing some AI technologies, especially generative AI, and how it might affect the startups Betaworks seeks to fund, Borthwick hesitates to answer. did not do it.he expects Copyright, intellectual The issue of property and attribution model ownership will unfold over the next few years, Finally This is to avoid negatively impacting startups in this space and their business models.

“Some of the laws and frameworks that we have now apply, others need to be created,” Borthwick added. “This is kind of like the beginning of the internet. For example, the ‘right to be forgotten’ rule hadn’t been considered yet because the technology didn’t require it.”

It may be optimistic. But Betaworks has so far not blocked potential legal headwinds around AI.

The company funded Stability AI, which is currently developing a text-to-image tool using copyrighted images scraped from the web, helping the company help millions of people. embroiled in a legal battle over whether it violated the rights of a mono artist. Stock image supplier Getty Images also sued Stability AI for using images from the site without permission.

It can be said that Betaworks tends to like risk. And they seem to expect the payoff to be worth the effort.

“AI opens up a space of possibilities around every problem.” Borthwick said. “that was one of the big lessons [DeepMind’s] Alpha Go for us — Technology has found a solution no one has thought of before. It was on a simple game board. “

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