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Interview with Angelo Dalli, CEO & Co-Founder at Umnai

Angelo Dalli is the CEO and Co-Founder at Umnai, a company that is creating new AI technology that can explain itself and its decisions with the objective of helping and …

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Angelo Dalli is the CEO and Co-Founder at Umnai, a company that is creating new AI technology that can explain itself and its decisions with the objective of helping and assisting people rather than replacing them. As Umnai’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Dalli is responsible for leading the company’s commercial, product, and technology strategy.

Mr. Dalli is also a speaker at the Malta AI & Blockchain Summit conference, happening on May 22 – 25 in Malta.

In this interview, Mr. Dalli shares insights on explainable AI, his company’s mission to develop AI technology that assists people rather than replacing them, combining AI and blockchain, and more.

Q: What is your background and how did you start Umnai?

I have been a graduate in Artificial Intelligence for a long time – almost 20 years. Back then, AI was not the hot topic that it has become today – I have always believed it will be the future of technology – it just took a bit longer than expected to get to this stage where the software, hardware and data availability are all now sufficient enough for AI to stay. In my previous ventures and companies that I have started, we had already started applying some AI to different industries – yet the current wave of useful applications have been largely generated by the next generation of hardware that allows fast and efficient processing of the type needed by AI systems.

Umnai is my ninth start-up – so I took quite a long time deliberating what to focus on before choosing to untangle myself from most operational commitments I had at that time and focus entirely on AI. The ideas for Umnai germinated over a long series of treks up in the Himalayas in Nepal – the peaceful atmosphere allowing me to think clearly and strategically to come up with a very solid and long term plan for AI innovation.

We are focusing on AI that can work together with humans and enter into an interactive dialogue with them, ensuring that people can examine the results of the AI and correct it, just like humans mentor children and other humans.

Q: Umnai’s vision is to “develop the next generation Artificial Intelligence technology that aims to assist, rather than replace people”. Can you elaborate more on that?

Umnai is creating new technology that has the potential to disrupt the AI industry completely, affecting so many different software and hardware verticals that the potential upside is very substantial. We are focusing on AI that can work together with humans and enter into an interactive dialogue with them, ensuring that people can examine the results of the AI and correct it, just like humans mentor children and other humans. In this way, people will work hand-in-hand with AI systems, using the AI to improve their productivity and freeing up precious time to be more creative and innovative. We are currently in the process of patenting our technology so we are rather limited in the amount of detail that we can reveal at the moment – watch out for announcements near the end of this year.

Q: What is explainable AI? Why is explainable AI important?

Explainable AI is AI that can explain the steps it has taken to come to an answer, together with the basis for its decision and any factors that have been used in coming up with those answers. Current narrow AI simply gives you an answer, without any explanation – this behaviour and lack of transparency can lead to a backlash against AI and also will lead to issues of trustworthiness as no one in their right mind would blindly follow an AI system’s recommendations without having a proper explanation and insight into the process that came up with such an answer. This is very important for regulated industries, such as healthcare, law, finance, gaming, and so on, where regulators world wide seem to be favouring the introduction of explainable AI in all regulated industries.

AI being able to explain itself is a key milestone if AI ever wants to be a collaborative tool or partner with humans, integrating better with human society – otherwise, it will be forever relegated to restricted and narrow applications that do not meet the public’s perception, needs and expectations of future AI systems.

Q: In which domains do you see the biggest impact for explainable AI in the coming years?

Explainable AI will firstly impact all regulated industries and also areas where there is a need for mission criticality and explanation. Anything that has an impact on human life (for example, driverless cars – that may cause accidents), or is required to make a significantly important decision will benefit from having explainable AI technology. The impact will be profound as people will get used to asking AI for explanations, and by following its logical processes learn when to trust its judgement or override it. AI systems are not as perfect as some hype makes them out to be – currently there is a lot of work needed to select the right data, make sure that the right features are selected and modelled, and also to train and re-train the model to keep it updated. Umnai’s solution allows for human knowledge to be directly blended with AI knowledge, allowing for the impact to be magnified significantly further.

AI being able to explain itself is a key milestone if AI ever wants to be a collaborative tool or partner with humans, integrating better with human society.

Q: What is the AlphaStars initiative?

The Umnai AlphaStars initiative is to have a group of select early adopters who start using Umnai’s technology much before the general market, getting the early adopter benefits while in turn providing quality feedback that will shape the productization of the technology for different verticals and industries. We are slowly working with different partners and opening up the initiative to innovative companies who are completely committed to using AI as part of their core business and who have a valuable problem to solve using Umnai’s solutions.

Q: Tell us about the Umnai team. 

The Umnai team has been hand-picked by myself to represent the core nucleus of the team that will eventually grow to a much larger team in the coming 2-3 years.

Virtually everyone in the team has known each other for more than 3 years, with some relationships going back more than 12 years. This is a big advantage in a world where startups tend to have a group of people who didn’t know each other that well and also goes against the present day concept of changing jobs every so often – we do not believe in such an attitude and my experience as a serial entrepreneur has showed me the importance of having a strong and loyal core in the team that enables the company to move forward fearlessly and at a high speed without friction.

The core team is supplemented by a world class advisory board having over 100 years of combined AI experience including three AI veterans: Noel Sharkey, Yorick Wilks and Mike Rosner. Yorick has won some of the highest accolades including the Loebner Prize in AI, the BCS Lovelace Medal, the Zampolli Prize in NLP, the ACL Lifetime Achievement Award amongst others. Noel is a well known British AI personality and is heavily involved in the UN efforts regarding ethical AI and the non-weaponization of robotics (you may have seen him as the head judge of the popular UK TV series Robot Wars!). Mike was one of the first person setting up AI research labs in Switzerland and is a key figure in Computational Linguistics and was one of the first people who started teaching AI in Malta.

Q: What are Umnai’s biggest achievements in the last 12 months?

Umnai’s biggest achievements have been in the breakthroughs we’ve made in explainable AI and related areas, solving problems that have been long outstanding for over 30 years. At the moment we are carefully testing and verifying our technology and in the process of patenting it in various countries around the world to build the foundations for what could be one of the most significant disruptions in AI that will make it much more useful.

Q: You will be a speaker at Malta AI & Blockchain Summit. What will your speech be about?

I will be speaking about the future of AI and how it will affect society – how will AI be integrated with people, how will it affect our jobs, education, way of working, what are the benefits and pitfalls, and so on. Also I will be addressing a lot of common concerns that I get asked about frequently in different events around the world.

Q: Where do you see the biggest potential for combining AI and Blockchain technology in the coming years?

I think that blockchain can be a useful tool for AI when it comes to saving a verified audit log of its decisions and explanations, and also to a lesser extent to serve as a useful payment method for API calls, etc. The main use of blockchain as a distributed ledger (DLT) is the main short term potential for AI though – the speed of the blockchain technology needs to improve though in order to be useful at a massive scale.


Join Mr. Dalli at Malta AI & Blockchain Summit

Mr. Dalli will be one of the speakers at Malta AI & Blockchain Summit happening on May 22 – 25 in Malta.

Angelo Dalli’s Speech

“DEMYSTIFYING AI: THE TRANSITION IS CLOSER THAN YOU THINK”

May 24th at 9:30

View the complete agenda →

The mission of AI Time Journal is to divulge information
and knowledge about Artificial Intelligence, the changes that
are coming and new opportunities to use AI technology to
benefit humanity.

Source: https://www.aitimejournal.com/interview-with-angelo-dalli-ceo-co-founder-at-umnai

Blockchain

Panther Protocol and Firo Partner up for Privacy Research

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[PRESS RELEASE – Midtown, Gibraltar, 27th September 2021]

Panther, which has set out to provide a private scalable infrastructure for smart contract platforms, Defi, and Web3 applications, teamed up with Firo, the company formerly known as Zcoin, that has been developing privacy technology since 2016 and was responsible for the creation of privacy protocols such as Lelantus and Lelantus Spark.

The two companies, which could, to some extent, be viewed as adjacent competitors, decided to cooperate instead and join efforts to accelerate research in the field of privacy.

Panther contributes to the partnership with years of experience in the cryptography and cybersecurity space. Panther’s CTO Dr. Anish Mohammed, for example, with over 20 years of experience in security and cryptography, was an early advisor to Ripple, reviewed the Ethereum orange paper, worked on several projects including Ocean and Boson, and is the co-founder of the UK Digital Currency Association. Another important and notable member of the Panther team is Dr. Arnold Yau, a Ph.D. in Information Security from Royal Holloway, University of London with a 20-year career across academic research, defense R&D, hardware security tokens, financial services, blockchain technology, and smart contract security.

Panther enables simple blockchain users, DeFi users, and institutions to exchange value across blockchains and DeFi infrastructure with zAssets: interoperable, fully collateralized privacy-enhancing digital assets that leverage zkSNARK technology, while offering a novel price discovery mechanism for privacy.

For the Panther anonymity pools to function optimally, the size of the anonymity set in its shielded privacy pools is especially important, and one of the additional details of the partnership is that Firo holders will be able to act as privacy stakers and be rewarded for providing their assets into Panther vaults.

Firo, on the other hand, created a simple burn and spend model designed to strengthen privacy while making it more broadly accessible. Through financial privacy, Firo can directly guarantee fungibility, a fundamental feature for free commerce.

Some areas of research where Firo and Panther want to collaborate are privacy technology research, cross-chain bridges, and liquidity.

Reuben Yap, co founder and project Steward at Firo says:

“We welcome this opportunity. It is incumbent on advocates of privacy to travel together. Working with Panther, we will have a great opportunity to collaborate on our ZK technologies. Onboarding with Panther will also give us access to other chains and as a result, much increased liquidity.”

Oliver Gale, CEO of Panther welcomed the collaboration. “At Panther we take our R&D very seriously. Working with Firo will be an interesting challenge. In some ways the Firo product is more like a competitor, but we are keen to trade Firo assets on our InterChain DEX. Both companies are dedicated to the defence of privacy and that creates our common bond.”

The partnership between Firo and Panther to provide technical collaboration and research between the two companies will look to develop new technology and invest in new ways of deploying zero-knowledge proof systems relevant to privacy schemes. This will also allow for the movement of private Firo assets across chains.
Firo and Panther both advocate privacy as a fundamental human right and empower users to regain control of their money.

About Panther Protocol

Panther is an end-to-end privacy protocol connecting blockchains to restore privacy in Web3 and DeFi while providing financial institutions a clear path to compliantly participate in digital asset markets.

Panther provides DeFi users with fully collateralized privacy-enhancing digital assets, leveraging crypto-economic incentives and zkSNARKs technology. Users can mint zero-knowledge zAssets by depositing digital assets from any blockchain into Panther vaults. zAssets flow across blockchains via a privacy first interchain DEX and a private metastrate. Panther envisions that zAssets will become an ever-expanding asset class for users who want their transactions and strategies the way they should always have been: private.

About Firo

Firo is a privacy-first digital currency that enables untraceable transactions and true financial freedom from the prying eyes of large corporations, financial institutions, and oppressive governments. Firo advocates privacy as being an expression of consent and enables users to regain control of their money. As a leading technology innovator, Firo’s research team has created the Lelantus and Lelantus Spark privacy protocols presenting a compelling trustless alternative that has influenced.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/panther-protocol-and-firo-partner-up-for-privacy-research/

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Blockchain

‘Bitcoin maxis’ like Solana, but is there sound logic to that

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Recent changes in cryptocurrency market dynamics have fueled the popularity of altcoins like Solana [SOL]. It recently became one of the most trending blockchain platforms around on the back of its surging price.

The cryptocurrency, in fact, had a 1-year ROI of over 4,200%, despite dropping by 34% since its peak in early September. Despite the latest hiccup in value, however, market observers believe the project has managed “winning over a significant number of Bitcoin Maxis or near-maxis.”

Ikigai Funds’ Travis Kling offered this observation on Twitter when he said,

“After talking to a bunch of folks over the last couple months, it’s pretty clear that SOL is successfully winning over a significant number of BTC Maxis or near-maxis, which have previously owned zero ETH or very little ETH.”

While the crypto-space is competitive, the tech-twist to the age-old saying – “competition of your competition is your ally” also holds true. Solana is not competing with Bitcoin. Instead, it is competing with Ethereum’s position in decentralized finance, NFTs, and smart contract offerings. Given the fact that transacting on Ethereum is still a pain for some users, Solana’s cheap and fast transactions provide a better alternative to many.

Solana’s DeFi projects recently crossed $3 billion, despite Ethereum hosting the maximum number of DeFi and NFT projects. While Bitcoin “maxis” are also opting-in for smart contracts, they prefer SOL over ETH, according to Kling.

Why? According to the exec,

“I think maxis look at ETH vs SOL and think –

Well as long as its not going to be all that decentralized, might as well have a smart contract platform that can actually handle enough throughput with cheap enough fees where it can really scale, instead getting choked up like ETH.”

However, not everyone agrees with Kling’s opinions. Many believe the decentralization narrative to be wrongly used by Kling, with another Twitter user @mikemcg0 noting that Ethereum is “more decentralized than BTC.” Anyone can run an Ethereum validator,” he said, “but only a select few oligopolies can mine BTC.”

Even so, Bitcoin mining has spread out even more after the recent China crackdown. Although the process is extensive in terms of effort, time, and money, according to another user, “anyone can” mine BTC “if they have the entrepreneurial mindset.”

Now, the latest outage faced by Solana did raise questions about the level of centralization. However, that has not really discouraged those who want to indulge in DeFi, NFTs, and smart contracts. As Solana forges new contracts with Hacken Foundation and Gate.io, others institutions like Osprey Funds and Grayscale are in a race to include Solana in their respective bouquet of products.

In fact, Osprey Funds has already registered Osprey Solana Trust with the SEC.

‘Ethereum killer’ or not, Solana is en route to gaining more interest from the booming crypto-market. Even turning so-called BTC maxis in the process.

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Source: https://ambcrypto.com/bitcoin-maxis-like-solana-but-is-there-sound-logic-to-that

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Blockchain

Europe Now World’s Biggest Crypto Economy: Boasts Over $1T Worth of Transactions

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Central, Northern, and Western Europe (CNWE) has grown into the world’s largest cryptocurrency economy since July 2020. The region experienced a massive increase in trading activity since then– particularly in the DeFi space.

The European DeFi Boom

Data from Chainalysis shows that CNWE received over $1 trillion in cryptocurrency over the last year alone. This represents 25% of global trading activity. Furthermore, it is responsible for at least 25% of all crypto value received by other regions, including 34% of the value received in North America.

This makes the EU the most concentrated in the world in terms of cryptocurrency trading volume. This is partially due to increases in all forms of trading activity over the past year, coming mostly from institutional investors.

Large institutional transaction value grew from $1.4B in July 2020 to $46.3B in June 2021, coming to take up half of all CNWE trading activity. The most pronounced increases were seen on DeFi protocols, where over 80% of these large institutional transactions were sent in June.

The impact of DeFi is further established when ranking coins in terms of transaction activity in the region. Despite being the largest cryptocurrency by market cap, Bitcoin heavily trails Ethereum in transaction volume among large institutional investors. Additionally, DeFi protocols took up a majority share of funds received by cryptocurrency services in CNWE in June 2021.


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The Decline in Eastern Asia

CNWE has seen significant absolute increases in its crypto trading volume. However, its new place as the world’s largest trading hub is partly due to a sharp decline in market share held by Eastern Asia– the previous world leader.

In early 2019 the region held over 30% of global transaction volume. This figure has since fallen sharply to about 15% – less than CNWE, North America, and even Central and Southern Asia.

This may be related to China’s continued push to prevent and discourage crypto trading within its borders. China re-announced their ban on crypto trading in the country days ago, and have been moving to prevent all access to exchanges within the country.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/europe-now-worlds-biggest-crypto-economy-boasts-over-1t-worth-of-transactions/

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