Wing and a prayer
The battlefield is one small aspect of war today. Folks are often radicalized on social networks, and media itself has become a tool in warfare.
This is not just about the 2016 US presidential election, Russia, and Facebook.
This is about a broader global dystopia in which technology and media are being turned against civil society.
Social networks are one target, having become cauldrons of conspiracy theories, weaponized memes, and bogus images and video.
The real frightening — and newer — ingredient is artificial intelligence, which can be harnessed to create information attacks on a scale and level of sophistication never seen before.
We'll take you on a bizarre reconnaissance mission into the world of reputational warfare, deepfakes, computational propaganda, and AI bot armies.
Don't be paranoid — just be prepared.
How did we get here?
The spread of misinformation online barely cracked the list of top 10 concerns among thought leaders in 2014. By 2016, it had a direct effect on the American democratic process.
Russia isn't the only one responsible for distorting public opinion online — a study by Oxford University found instances of social media manipulation campaigns led by organizations in at least 28 countries since 2010.
Our new deep dive on information warfare digs into this and more.
I believe that children are the future
Last week marked CB Insights' first Bring Your Kids to Work Day, complete with a unicorn scavenger hunt, an info session on what CBI would be like as a lemonade stand, pizza lunch, and plenty of coloring time.
While they were here, we asked the kids some questions — like what they think we do all day. Check out their responses and more here.
Still waters run blockchain
Bitcoin and blockchain hype has died down over the last two quarters, with prices of major cryptoassests dropping far below their record highs.
But despite the drop in media and public interest, blockchain technology is developing rapidly.
On May 8, we'll dive into financing trends, corporate earnings transcripts, new players, and more to see how blockchain is poised to shake up industries. Sign up here to join us.
Fighting the good fight
Combating information warfare begins with finding a scalable way to identify high-quality fake videos. Stopping online propaganda is an even more complex problem — but there's hope.
From using hidden metadata for image authentication to tracing digital content with blockchain technology, we look into how researchers and professionals are laying the groundwork for effective defenses.
Fruits and veggies
In what will be its first M&A deal, lending unicorn Kabbage is in the process of acquiring Orchard, a startup known for its lending data and analytics.
Kabbage co-founder Kathryn Petralia will join us on stage at Future of Fintech on June 19 - 21 in New York.
There’s still a chance to take us up on our recently extended pair ticket rate or save $500 on an individual ticket using the code vegetables.
Have a great rest of the week.
P.S. Bring new subscribers to the CB Insights newsletter and win free swag through our CB Insiders rewards program. Happy referring!
This week in data:
3x: The number of people contracting diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas has more than tripled in the US since 2004, federal health officials reported Tuesday. Google is one company focused on this problem, with plans to release sterile mosquitoes into the general population to cull mosquito-spread diseases. We cover this initiative and more in our Google in Healthcare report.
- $800: Israeli animal-free meat company Future Meat Technologies raised $2.2M yesterday in seed funding from investors including Tyson Ventures. While it costs other cultured meat companies about $10,000 per kilogram to develop lab-grown meat, Future Meat manufactures fat and meat cells at about $800 a kilogram. We talk about Future Meat Technologies and dig into the future of food here.
- 65,000: Connected luggage startup BlueSmart is shutting down and selling its technology. The company cites an airline ban on luggage with nonremovable batteries as the main reason for the company’s demise. Blue Smart had raised a total of $27M over 9 rounds of funding, including $2M in crowdfunding last year, and had 65,000 suitcases in circulation. BlueSmart isn’t alone — about 70% of upstart tech companies fail. We look at 250+ startup failure post-mortems here.
- $15.7M: SYNYI.AI, a Chinese healthcare AI startup, raised $15.72M in a Series B round led by GGV Capital and Sequoia Capital China. This brings the company’s total funding up to $24M. Check out which categories are taking off — from enterprise AI to commerce to IoT — with our recently updated AI deals tracker heat map.
- $106.4B: According to a new report, consumers will spend $106.4B on apps globally this year — mainly on games. China currently accounts for 40% of the total global spend, and Americans paid $15B for apps and games last year. Both countries are expected to double their spend on apps by 2022.
- 0: The number of French trees currently on the White House lawn. French president Emmanuel Macron visited the US last week and gifted President Trump an oak tree to honor US involvement in World War I. This week, the tree went missing from the lawn where it had been planted during the ceremony. But fear not: the French president’s gift is only in quarantine.