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Scientists Develop New Nature-Inspired “Unbreakable Glass” – 3X Stronger, 5X More Fracture Resistant

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The brilliant mother-of-pearl of the abalone was washed up on the shore.

The strongest and strongest glass known to have been developed by scientists at McGill University.

Scientists at McGill University are developing an increasingly resistant glass, inspired by the inner layers of mollusc shells. The new material has the elasticity of plastic instead of being broken by impact and can be used to improve the screen of cellphones in the future, among other applications.

Techniques such as tempering and lamination can help strengthen glass, but they are expensive and fail if the surface is damaged. “In the past, there was a trade-off between high strength, toughness and transparency. Our new material is not only three times stronger than ordinary glass, but more than five times more resistant to fractures. We have it, ”says Allen Ehrlicher, associate professor of biotechnology at Magill University.

Shatterproof composite glass

(A) Composite glass (no index matching strategy on the left side, index matching on the right side), (B) Composite glass microstructure, (C) Red abalone shell mother-of-pearl diagram and (D) Fine structure of mother-of-pearl. Credit: Allen Ehrlicher

Nature as master of design

Scientists have taken inspiration from nature to create new glass-acrylic composites that mimic mother-of-pearl or mother-of-pearl. “Nature is a master of design. Studying the structure of biological materials and understanding how they work inspires new materials, and sometimes blueprints, ”said Ehrlicher. to say.

“Surprisingly, mother of pearl has the stiffness of hard materials and the durability of soft materials, and has the best of both worlds,” he explains. “It’s made of a hard piece of chalk-like material that’s covered with very elastic soft proteins. This structure creates extraordinary resistance and is 3000 times stronger than the materials it is made of. He became. “

Scientists adopted the structure of mother-of-pearl and duplicated it with layers of glass and acrylic flakes to create a very strong and opaque material that is easy and inexpensive to make. Then we took it a step further and made the composite optically transparent. “By adjusting the refractive index of the acrylic, it blended perfectly with the glass to create a truly transparent composite,” said Ali Amini, postdoctoral researcher at McGill University. In a next step, they plan to improve it by incorporating smart technologies that allow glass to modify properties such as color, dynamics and conductivity.

Fine structure of glass composite material

(A) composite glass microstructure and (B) mother-of-pearl microstructure. Credit: Allen Ehrlicher

Lost invention of soft glass

Flexible glass is believed to be an invention lost during the reign of Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar. According to a popular historical account by Roman writers Gaius Pliny the Elder and Petronius, the inventor brought the emperor a drinking bowl made of this material. When tested to break the bowl, it was just dented instead of broken.

After the inventor swore he was the only one who knew how to make the material, Tiberius executed the man for fear of devaluing gold and silver because glass might be worth more. paddy field.

“When we think of Tiberius, we’re happy that our material innovations lead to release rather than execution,” says Ehrlicher.

Reference: September 10, 2021, by Ali Amini, Adele Khavari, Francois Barthelat, Allen J. Ehrlicher, “Centrifugation and index matching provides a solid, transparent and bio-inspired pearlescent composite material. Chemistry..
DOI: 10.1126 / science.abf0277

Scientists Develop New Nature-Inspired “Unbreakable Glass” – 3X Stronger, 5X More Fracture Resistant

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Tiger Global and a host of top investors place $ 35 million bet on Latin American fintech Pomelo – TechCrunch

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A little more than 5 months after breeding $ 9 million seed funding roundLatin America’s FinTech Pomelo announced today that it will raise $ 35 million in Series A funding led by Tiger Global Management.

The startup was founded earlier this year to create a FinTech-as-a-Service platform for Latin America. Its infrastructure aims to enable FinTechs and embedded financial players to launch virtual accounts and issue prepaid and credit cards via a “compliant” integration process.

The number of top investors that the young company has managed to attract in a relatively short period of time is impressive.

In addition to Tiger, a number of venture capital firms such as Insight Partners, Index Ventures, Monashees, SciFi, QED Investors, BoxGroup, Grayhound, Gilgamesh Ventures and Clocktower also participated in Series A. The founders of Affirm, Max Levchin, Biz Stone, Martin Varsavski, Jackie Reses, Angela Strange from a16z, N26 and many other prominent angels have also invested in the company. Max Tayenthal, co-founder of Plaid William Hockey, co-founders of Ramp Eric Glyman and Karimatiyeh, and co-founder and CEO of Unit Itai Damti.

The fundraising event took place after Pomelo raised a $ 1 million extension to the funding round in June. Sequoia Capital, Guillaume Pousaz from Checkout, Hans Tung from GGV, Matt Robinson from GoCardless The financing marked Sequoia’s first investment in this context. New interest in Latin America After stopping investing in the region and previously supporting Nubank, Rappi and others.

Seven-month-old Pomelo may be in its infancy, but has so far acquired four clients, including three fintechs and an integrated financial player. RemoteFirst FinTech will start in Argentina, then establish companies and offices in Brazil and Mexico, with plans to expand into Chile and Colombia. In Argentina, Mastercard and payment licenses were granted.

The estimated payment for the card is $ 900 billion per year, but Pomelo says 95% of those transactions are processed by local incumbents. This is a problem that the founders of the company experienced directly in their previous roles and are keen to address it by creating a new payment infrastructure.

“We know from experience that the creation of FinTech in Latin America, in particular the issuance of cards, is a real nightmare,” said Gaston Irigoyen, co-founder and CEO of Pomelo. I mentioned this during the last pay raise. “It takes 12 to 18 months to launch a simple prepaid card. Unfortunately, companies have to go through the painful experience of repeating this process in all the markets they do business with. “

Pomelo’s goal is to solve the problem by creating a new generation of financial services infrastructure that allows companies to build fintech businesses across Latin America and launch their cards “much faster.” It houses a “totally obsolete” financial services infrastructure, Irigoyen said. It’s very fragmented. “

Startup Says API-Driven Platform Enables Businesses to Build Compliant Integration Processes, Launch Virtual Accounts Connected to Local Financial Systems, and Issue Debit and Credit Cards Across Latin America . I am.

“Each market has its own regulations and nuances, and traditional vendors offer poor technology. At an expensive price, ”he said. “Most founders and tech teams are dissatisfied with the status quo and the lack of local solutions that prevent them from expanding their products quickly enough. Our goal at Pomelo is to use LatAm. Make it look like Europe, which means helping partners unlock multiple markets in no time and grow their businesses without worrying about regulations, dozens of contracts, or backend integration. I can.”

Tiger Global partner John Curtius points out that he also commented on TechCrunch. Latin America’s tech scene is “booming” and some start-ups are striving to transform the industry as a whole.

“In recent years we’ve seen amazing consumer products disrupt retail banking, lending and insurance,” Curtius said in writing. “Given our unique perspective on Latin America, our vision for a new regional fintech infrastructure and our strong team of best-in-class practices, we are delighted to partner with Pomelo. “

Currently, Pomelo has 100 employees, including those who have worked at Mercado Pago, Amazon Payments, Mastercard, Nubank, D-Local, Lime and N26. According to Irigoyen, one of the first employees of Google LatAm, the goal is to hire another 150 employees by the end of 2022. He is also the third founder and former CEO of Naranja X, one of the largest neobanks in Argentina, with two outings (including one on TripAdvisor).

(Supplement: Pomelo says it will offer stock options to all employees, which is rather rare at LatAm)

The company will also use the new capital to accelerate its product roadmap and work on business development efforts.

The investment in FinTech infrastructure in Latin America will be one week. On Wednesday, we covered the Brazilian hash of fintech payment infrastructure. Raise $ 40 million as part of the Series C funding round co-led by QED Investors and Kaszek. I also reported on Pismo, which is based in São Paulo. Ends at $ 108 million In a Series B funding round led jointly by Softbank, e-commerce giant Amazon and Silicon Valley-based company Axel.

Tiger Global and a host of top investors place $ 35 million bet on fintech LatAm Pomelo – TechCrunch

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Artificial intelligence is smart, but doesn’t it work well with others

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Studies have shown that humans find AI to be a frustrating teammate when playing cooperative games together and a challenge for “team intelligence”.

When it comes to games like chess and go, Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs far outperform the best players in the world. These “superhuman” AIs are unmatched competitors, but perhaps more difficult than competing with humans is to work with them. Can the same technology get along with people?

In a new study MIT Lincoln Laboratory researchers use advanced AI models that are well trained to play with teammates they have never met before, and how humans play collaborative card games fireworks. I looked for what I could do. In the single-blind experiment, participants played two sets of games. One used an AI agent as a teammate and the other used a rules-based agent, a bot manually programmed to play in a predefined way.

The results surprised the researchers. Not only did AI teammates perform worse than rule-based agents, humans have always hated playing with AI teammates. They found him to be unpredictable, unreliable, unreliable and felt negative even when the team gave a good score. An article detailing this study was accepted by the 2021 Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) Conference.

Fireworks experience

When playing the “Fireworks” cooperative card game, humans were dissatisfied and confused by the movements of their AI teammates. Credit: Bryan Mastergeorge

“This highlights the subtle difference between creating an AI that works objectively well and creating an AI that is subjectively reliable or prioritized,” the article co-wrote. Said Ross Allen, researcher in the artificial intelligence technology group. “They’re so close to each other that they can appear to be out of the sun, but this study showed that they’re actually two separate issues. We have to work to untangle them. “

Humans who dislike AI teammates may worry researchers who design this technology in collaboration with humans about real-world challenges such as missile protection and performing complex surgeries. This dynamic, called team intelligence, is the next frontier in AI research and uses a specific type of AI called reinforcement learning.

Reinforcement learning The AI ​​is not informed of the action to be taken, but by experimenting with the scenario several times, it discovers which action provides the most digital “reward”. It is this technology that has created superhuman chess and go players. Unlike rule-based algorithms, these AIs are not programmed to follow “if / then” instructions. This is because the results of human tasks you plan to work on, such as driving a car, are too high to be coded.

“Reinforcement learning is a much more versatile way to develop AI. If you can train him to learn to play chess, that agent isn’t necessarily going to drive a car. But with the right data, you can use the same algorithm to train another officer to drive a car, ”says Allen. “Theoretically, the sky is the limit of what it can do.”

Bad advice, bad game

Today, researchers are testing the performance of reinforcement learning models developed for collaboration in the same way that chess has served as a benchmark for testing competitive AI for decades. I use fireworks to do this.

The fireworks game is similar to the multiplayer format of Solitaire. Players work together to stack cards of the same suit in order. However, players cannot see their cards, only cards held by their teammates. Each player has severe restrictions on what can be communicated to their teammates, allowing them to choose the best card in their hand and then crush it.

Lincoln Laboratory researchers did not develop the AI ​​or the rules-based agent used in this experiment. Both agents are the best in their respective fields of fireworks performance. real, the AI ​​model was previously paired with an AI teammate who never played with them, the team achieved the highest score ever in a fireworks display between two unknown AI agents .

“It was a big result,” says Allen. “I thought if these AIs that I had never met before could come together and play really well, I should be able to bring in people who know how to play AI as well. They are also doing very well. That’s why I thought the AI ​​team could play well objectively, and I thought humans like it because, in general, if it works, they like things better. “

None of these expectations were met. Objectively, there was no statistical difference in scores between AI and rule-based agents. Subjectively, all 29 participants reported a clear preference for rule-based teammates in the survey. Participants were not told which agent and what game they were playing.

“One participant said he actually had a headache because he was stressed out by the AI ​​agent’s bad game,” said Jaimepena, researcher and author of the AI ​​Technology and Group article. Systems. “Another said rule-based agents thought they were ridiculous but achievable, but AI agents showed they understood the rules, but the movement was the look of the team. didn’t fit. For them, it gave a bad clue and played badly. “

Inhuman creativity

This perception that AI is “playing badly” is linked to the surprising behavior previously observed in reinforcement learning tasks. For example, when DeepMind’s AlphaGo first beat one of the best Go players in the world in 2016, one of the most admired moves made by AlphaGo was move 37 in game 2 An Unusual Move That The Human commentators thought it was a mistake. Subsequent analysis revealed that this move was actually very well calculated and described as a “genius”.

Such moves can be praised when performed by an AI opponent, but less likely to be celebrated in a team setting. Researchers at the Lincoln Laboratory have discovered that weird or seemingly illogical moves are the worst criminals for breaking human trust in the AI ​​teammates of these tightly coupled teams. Such movements not only reduce the player’s perception of how the player and their AI teammates work together, but also the amount of AI used, especially when the potential rewards are not immediately apparent. I also lowered what I wanted to do.

“There have been a lot of comments about giving up, like ‘I hate to handle this’,” said Hosea Siu, author of the article and researcher in the Autonomy and Control Systems Engineering group. Add.

Participants who rated themselves as fireworks experts, led by the majority of players in this survey, often abandoned AI players. Siu sees this as a concern for AI developers, as the main users of this technology are likely experts in the field.

“Let’s say you train a super intelligent AI guidance assistant for a missile defense scenario. You don’t give it to an intern. You give it to your expert on your ship who has been doing this for 25 years. Therefore, if there is a strong expert bias against it in the game scenario, it can manifest itself in actual operations, ”he adds.

Squeeze the human

The researchers say the AI ​​used in this study was not developed for human taste. But that’s part of the problem – not much. Like most collaborative AI models, this model is designed to score as high as possible, and its success is measured by its objective performance.

If the researchers don’t focus on the question of subjective human tastes, “you can’t create the AI ​​that humans really want to use,” says Allen. “It’s easier to work with AI which improves very sharp numbers. It is much more difficult to work on an AI that works in this favorite world of the humans of Musier. “

Solving this more difficult problem is the goal of the MeRLin (Mission-Ready Reinforcement Learning) project. The experiment was funded by the technical office of MIT Lincoln Laboratory in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force’s Artificial Intelligence Accelerator and MIT’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Division. Chemistry. This project investigates what keeps collaborative AI technology from leaping out of the play space and into more delicate reality.

Researchers believe that AI’s ability to explain its behavior builds trust. This will be the focus of their work next year.

“I can imagine we would repeat the experiment, but after the fact – and it’s not as easy as it looks – the humans said, ‘I don’t understand why you made that move. Did you do that? “If the AI ​​can give some insight into what they think is going to happen based on their behavior, our guess is that humans ‘oh, weird thought, but I get it now.’ Trust it. Even if you don’t change basic AI decisions, the results will change completely, “Allen says.

Like post-game chats, this type of exchange often helps humans form friendships and cooperate as a team.

“It may also be a staff prejudice. Most AI teams don’t want to tackle these squeaky people and their limp issues, ”Siu adds with a laugh. “People want to do math and optimization. This is the basis, but it is not enough.

Mastering fireworks-like games between AI and humans has the potential to open up a world of possibilities for teaming up with intelligence in the future. But the technology can remain mechanical or human until researchers can bridge the gap between AI performance and human taste.

Reference: Ho Chit Siu, Jaime D. Pena, Kimberlee C. Chang, Edenna Chen, Yutai Zhou, Victor J. Lopez, Kyle Palko, RossE “Human AI Team Assessment for Rule-Based Agents Learned to Hanabi “”. Allen, accepts, 2021 Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) Conference..
arXiv: 2107.07630

Artificial Intelligence Is Smart, But Doesn’t Work Well With Others Source Link Artificial Intelligence Is Smart, But Doesn’t Work Well With Others

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Ventures Platform and Hustle Fund back Nigerian fintech Brass in $ 1.7 million round – TechCrunch

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SMEs represent over 95% of all Nigerian businesses. However, despite their size and importance, most of them are underserved by financial institutions and lack the full range of financial services needed to expand their operations.

Aside from complete financial needs including credit and small business Obligatory Other important resources to understand their financial operations.

Brass is a Nigerian fintech that addresses these challenges by providing banking services to small businesses. The company has secured $ 1.7 million in funding to expand its services to “local entrepreneurs, traders and fast growing businesses.”

Sora Akindle When Emmanuel Okeke Brass was created in July 2020. Before Brass, CEO Akindolu Kudi’s product manager, backed by YC, and CTO Okeke were CTO of Paystack, a Stripe subsidiary.

Akindle’s work at Kudi has focused on the issues facing SMEs in Nigeria...He said these companies pay sellers, transfer funds and Globally Company health.

But why start with brass when you have an existing product in the Nigerian market that can be used by small businesses and entrepreneurs? Shining For example, we offer both personal and business banking services (priority is given to the latter).. Neobank for carbon consumers When Hisada Has different stages of providing business functions to SMEs.. Pro Spa, a company supported by YC, I don’t want to think of myself as an online bank, so I also offer software and banking services to micro-businesses and the self-employed.

Akindolu believes that while these products have an entry point into the SME market, they do not meet the overall needs of banks in companies like Brass.

“There are a lot of ways that money can flow out of the business, like payroll, vendor payments, invoicing, and so on. We want to support the cash flow of a business. We support them in these areas and the money is flowing. We want to keep going and allow them to keep growing their business, ”Akindle said of Brass’s app. “That’s what we do most of the time in Brass today. We support our financial operations and our treasury... “

Brass was wrapped up in a professional bank account, which included credit and payment services, payroll and expense management, API support, cash flow analysis, team and contact management, point of sale. sales, debit cards, credit cards and other basic business services. We offer a series of products. ..

Among all these characteristics, Brass makes a big bet on the achievements of Brass Capital. This space is already heating up on other platforms such as: float Provides working capital and software services to businesses. That said, Brass Capital has seen great success in a short period of time. Cash Flow Finance Services claims that 20 Brass private beta clients paid more than $ 2 million in credit after using it for six months.

Akindolu told TechCrunch that the company will be opening the service to the public soon...

According to Brass, many customers use the platform as their default currency trading service provider... FinTech makes money by offering credits and API calls in its regular product offering, the CEO said...

From schools and shopping centers to restaurants and fintechs like Eden and Mono that use complete banking solutions, we have more than 5,000 customers. And youLike any other platform, Brass seeks to simultaneously optimize the platform for different levels of activity with different needs.

“What we’re trying to do is build a financial services stack. We may be overkill for small business. They may find us unnecessary, so I’m more interested in SMEs. “

According to founder and general partner Kola Aina, the mission of making banking services for SMEs work was one of the reasons pan-African venture capital firm Ventures Platform invested in the business.

Other investors include Flutterwave CEO Olugbenga “GB” Agboola, Paystack co-founder Ezra Olubi, the Hustle fund, Acuity Ventures and the hedged fund.

Previous supporters include Olumide Soyombo Capital Voltron, Leonard Stiegler and Fola Olatunji-David.

“we Excited Support the Sora and Brass teams, which provide important financial technology to businesses in Africa, including Nigeria In regards to “41.5 million businesses,” said Elizabeth Inn, general partner of Hustle Fund.

it’s not Nevertheless In Nigeria, access to full banking services remains one of the most important constraints for SMEs and is the largest economy in Africa. Indeed, the formal SME sector on the continent has an annual financing gap. $ 136 billion Although they represent over 80% of employed people.

For this reason, Akindolu has confirmed that Brass will use part of its funds to expand into Kenya and South Africa by next year (the former has been incorporated). Key to promoting expansion plans across Africa Flutterwave, the one-year-old company said in a statement. Brass also plans to diversify its customer base by launching more product categories, including a focus on credit. This market.

Ventures Platform, Hustle Fund back Nigerian fintech Brass in $ 1.7 million round – TechCrunch Source link Ventures Platform, Hustle Fund back Nigerian fintech Brass in $ 1.7 million round – TechCrunch

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