JetSuiteX to launch $99 flights between Oakland and Seattle’s Boeing Field in July

JetSuiteX to launch $99 flights between Oakland and Seattle’s Boeing Field in July

4:49pm, 23rd April, 2019
JetSuiteX flies out of private air terminals on Embraer 135 aircraft. (JetSuiteX via PRNewsfoto) says it’s starting air service between Seattle’s Boeing Field and Oakland International Airport in July, with flights that combine the convenience of private jets with the pricing of commercial airlines. Up to three round-trip flights a day will be offered starting on July 1, at prices that range as low as $99 one-way. The expanded service will put JetSuiteX, a California-based airline that has a code-sharing partnership with JetBlue, in competition with Alaska Airlines, Spirit, Delta, American and Southwest. (JetBlue also offers SEA-OAK flights.) Even $99 isn’t as cheap as Alaska’s lowest fares for flights between Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Oakland, which can go as low as $69 one-way, But JetSuiteX is banking on the benefit of avoiding travel delays between Seattle’s urban core and Sea-Tac, as well as the security-line congestion that travelers often face once they get to Sea-Tac. “Travelers between Seattle and the Bay Area can now shave valuable time off the trip by flying from the conveniently located Boeing Field while experiencing JetSuiteX’s unparalleled efficiency and customer service,” Alex Wilcox, co-founder and CEO of JetSuiteX, . JetSuiteX says its passengers can show up at an airport’s private terminal 20 minutes before their flight, avoid long lines and bring free luggage along for the ride. The airline uses 30-seat Embraer 135 aircraft to handle 330 weekly scheduled flights. In addition to Oakland and Boeing Field, daily destinations include Burbank, Orange County and Concord in California, plus Las Vegas. There’s seasonal service to Mammoth Lakes and Coachella Valley. Aircraft can also be chartered for group trips. JetSuiteX’s sister charter airline, JetSuite, is produced by Bothell, Wash.-based in the early 2020s. For what it’s worth, Zunum’s financial backers include JetBlue Technology Ventures as well as Boeing HorizonX Ventures.
Alphabet’s Wing gets FAA permission to start delivering by drone

Alphabet’s Wing gets FAA permission to start delivering by drone

1:24pm, 23rd April, 2019
Wing Aviation, the drone-based delivery startup born out of X labs, has the first FAA certification in the country for commercial carriage of goods. It might not be long before you’re getting your burritos sent par avion. The company has been performing tests for years, making thousands of flights and supervised deliveries to show that its drones are safe and effective. Many of those flights were in Australia, where in suburban Canberra the company recently . Finland and other countries are also in the works.. Wing’s first operations, starting later this year, will be in Blackburg and Christiansburg, VA; obviously an operation like this requires close coordination with municipal authorities as well as federal ones. You can’t just get a permission slip from the FAA and start flying over everyone’s houses. “Wing plans to reach out to the local community before it begins food delivery, to gather feedback to inform its future operations,” the FAA writes in a press release. Here’s hoping that means you can choose whether or not these loud little aircraft will be able to pass through your airspace. Although the obvious application is getting a meal delivered quick even when traffic is bad, there are plenty of other applications. One imagines quick delivery of medications ahead of EMTs, or blood being transferred quickly between medical centers. I’ve asked Wing for more details on its plans to roll this out elsewhere in the U.S., and will update this story if I hear back.
How Microsoft is opening AI’s algorithmic ‘black box’ for greater transparency

How Microsoft is opening AI’s algorithmic ‘black box’ for greater transparency

8:57pm, 23rd April, 2019
Erez Barak, senior director of product for Microsoft’s AI Division, speaks at the Global Artificial Intelligence Conference in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle) Artificial intelligence can work wonders, but often it works in mysterious ways. Machine learning is based on the principle that a software program can analyze a huge set of data and fine-tune its algorithms to detect patterns and come up with solutions that humans may miss. That’s how Google DeepMind’s Alpha Go AI agent (and other games) well enough to beat expert players. But if programmers and users can’t figure out how AI algorithms came up with their results, that black-box behavior can be a cause for concern. It may become impossible to judge whether AI agents have picked up . That’s why terms such as transparency, explainability and interpretability are playing an increasing role in the AI ethics debate. The European Commission includes transparency and traceability among its , in line with the laid out in data-protection laws. The French government that powers the algorithms it uses. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission’s has been charged with providing guidance on algorithmic transparency. Transparency figures in Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s as well — and , senior director of product for Microsoft’s AI Division, addressed the issue head-on today at the Global Artificial Intelligence Conference in Seattle. “We believe that transparency is a key,” he said. “How many features did we consider? Did we consider just these five? Or did we consider 5,000 and choose these five?” Barak noted that a is built right into Microsoft’s Azure Machine Learning service. “What it does is that it takes the model as an input and starts breaking it down,” he said. The model explanation can show which factors went into the computer model, and how they were weighted by the AI system’s algorithms. As a result, customers can better understand why, for instance, they were turned down for a mortgage, passed over for a job opening, or denied parole. AI developers can also use the model explanations to make their algorithms more “human.” For instance, it may be preferable to go with an algorithm that doesn’t fit a training set of data quite as well, but is more likely to promote fairness and avoid gender or racial bias. As AI applications become more pervasive, calls for transparency — perhaps enforced through government regulation — could well become stronger. And that runs the risk of exposing trade secrets hidden within a company’s intricately formulated algorithms, said , a partner at Seattle’s Perkins Coie law firm who specializes in trade regulations. “Algorithms tend to be things that are closely guarded. … That’s not something that you necessarily want to be transparent with the public or with your competitors about, so there is that fundamental tension,” Castillo said. “That’s more at issue in Europe than in the U.S., which has much, much, much stronger and aggressive enforcement.” Microsoft has already taken a strong stance on responsible AI — to the point that the company . After his talk, Barak told GeekWire that Azure Machine Learning’s explainability feature could be used as an open-source tool to look inside the black box and verify that an AI algorithm doesn’t perpetuate all-too-human injustices. Over time, will the software industry or other stakeholders develop a set of standards or a “seal of approval” for AI algorithms? “We’ve seen that in things like security. Those are the kinds of thresholds that have been set. I’m pretty sure we’re heading in that direction as well,” Barak said. “The idea is to give everyone the visibility and capability to do that, and those standards will develop, absolutely.”
Augmented writing platform Textio now predicts what you want to say

Augmented writing platform Textio now predicts what you want to say

1:12pm, 23rd April, 2019
Textio’s augmented writing platform analyzes documents to help writers maximize their impact. (Textio Graphic) , a Seattle startup that helps companies write better job listings, today introduced a new feature that uses artificial intelligence to speed up the writing process. allows business users to turn a handful of notes into a fully fleshed out block of text automatically. The new feature is a bit like Google’s Smart Compose, which suggests email responses or phrases as you type. But instead of a few words, Textio Flow thinks up whole paragraphs. It’s starting as a feature of Textio’s flagship tool for writing job postings but is expected to expand to other scenarios such as writing emails in the future. Textio Flow takes the crux of the user’s message and turns it into something more. In a job posting for a graphic designer, for example, the word “originality” might become “Are you an innovator with imagination and ingenuity?” The feature works with Textio’s existing product, which is able to suggest words that are more likely to attract job applicants and improve the diversity of those candidates. The idea is to get more and better responses with less work. Textio CEO Kieran Snyder said that she found it hard to go back to writing normally after using the new feature. “It’s hard to describe how old and broken it feels to write anywhere else,” she said. Textio’s customers tend to be large organizations that do a lot of hiring and want to save time, be consistent and attract the best applicants. “Textio Flow lets us get more intentional about the alignment between our words and our culture. And it’s fast — going from a few rough ideas to the best expression of those ideas takes minutes, not hours.” Terri Coligan, manager of recruiting enablement at Nestlé, said in a statement. Textio co-founders Kieran Snyder and Jensen Harris. (Linda Brooks Photography Photo) “You almost can’t get your head around the billions of words that get written by a company like Nestlé and Expedia every single day,” said Snyder. The suggestions are informed by the startup’s own large datasets, which help to pick words and phrases that statistically lead to better outcomes, as well as a library of the company’s past writing so that the suggestions reflect the brand. Initially, the Flow feature will be limited to Textio’s website. Eventually, it will roll out to Textio’s assistant on Gmail and LinkedIn. While job postings remain the main application for Textio’s product, the company wants to make its writing companion every email user’s best friend. “Email is the other big domain where this is powerful. Any time you write an email you want someone to answer you,” said Snyder.
Spawned by Google, Wing wins FAA’s air carrier certification for drone deliveries

Spawned by Google, Wing wins FAA’s air carrier certification for drone deliveries

12:10pm, 23rd April, 2019
Wing’s drone makes a delivery. (Wing Photo) Alphabet’s has stolen a march on Amazon’s plans for drone domination by winning air carrier certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. “Air Carrier Certification means that we can begin a commercial service delivering goods from local businesses to homes in the United States,” celebrating the milestone. Wing was from (formerly known as Google X), and has been taking part in an in Southwest Virginia. The company has also conducted a test program in Australia that involved more than 3,000 drone deliveries to doorsteps, backyards and driveways. In all, Wing’s drones have flown more than 70,000 test flights, and is starting up . Wing said the data submitted to the FAA for certification showed that “a delivery by wing carries a lower risk to pedestrians than the same trip made by car.” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao hailed the certification. “This is an important step forward for the safe testing and integration of drones into our economy. Safety continues to be our No. 1 priority as this technology continues to develop and realize its full potential,” she said in a statement. Wing said its next step will be to further its participation in the Virginia pilot program. “For the next several months, we’ll be reaching out to businesses and community members in the Blacksburg and Christiansburg areas to demonstrate our technology, answer questions, and solicit feedback with the goal of launching a delivery trial later this year,” the company said. Amazon has been conducting its own drone delivery test flights in locations ranging from Israel and France to . The Seattle-based online retailing giant showed off more than two years ago. Amazon missed out on participating in the FAA’s first wave of drone pilot programs, however. We’ve reached out to Amazon for comment, and will update this item with anything we hear back.
Augmented writing platform Textio now predicts what you want to say

Augmented writing platform Textio now predicts what you want to say

1:12pm, 23rd April, 2019
Textio’s augmented writing platform analyzes documents to help writers maximize their impact. (Textio Graphic) , a Seattle startup that helps companies write better job listings, today introduced a new feature that uses artificial intelligence to speed up the writing process. allows business users to turn a handful of notes into a fully fleshed out block of text automatically. The new feature is a bit like Google’s Smart Compose, which suggests email responses or phrases as you type. But instead of a few words, Textio Flow thinks up whole paragraphs. It’s starting as a feature of Textio’s flagship tool for writing job postings but is expected to expand to other scenarios such as writing emails in the future. Textio Flow takes the crux of the user’s message and turns it into something more. In a job posting for a graphic designer, for example, the word “originality” might become “Are you an innovator with imagination and ingenuity?” The feature works with Textio’s existing product, which is able to suggest words that are more likely to attract job applicants and improve the diversity of those candidates. The idea is to get more and better responses with less work. Textio CEO Kieran Snyder said that she found it hard to go back to writing normally after using the new feature. “It’s hard to describe how old and broken it feels to write anywhere else,” she said. Textio’s customers tend to be large organizations that do a lot of hiring and want to save time, be consistent and attract the best applicants. “Textio Flow lets us get more intentional about the alignment between our words and our culture. And it’s fast — going from a few rough ideas to the best expression of those ideas takes minutes, not hours.” Terri Coligan, manager of recruiting enablement at Nestlé, said in a statement. Textio co-founders Kieran Snyder and Jensen Harris. (Linda Brooks Photography Photo) “You almost can’t get your head around the billions of words that get written by a company like Nestlé and Expedia every single day,” said Snyder. The suggestions are informed by the startup’s own large datasets, which help to pick words and phrases that statistically lead to better outcomes, as well as a library of the company’s past writing so that the suggestions reflect the brand. Initially, the Flow feature will be limited to Textio’s website. Eventually, it will roll out to Textio’s assistant on Gmail and LinkedIn. While job postings remain the main application for Textio’s product, the company wants to make its writing companion every email user’s best friend. “Email is the other big domain where this is powerful. Any time you write an email you want someone to answer you,” said Snyder.
Alphabet’s Wing gets FAA permission to start delivering by drone

Alphabet’s Wing gets FAA permission to start delivering by drone

1:24pm, 23rd April, 2019
Wing Aviation, the drone-based delivery startup born out of X labs, has the first FAA certification in the country for commercial carriage of goods. It might not be long before you’re getting your burritos sent par avion. The company has been performing tests for years, making thousands of flights and supervised deliveries to show that its drones are safe and effective. Many of those flights were in Australia, where in suburban Canberra the company recently . Finland and other countries are also in the works.. Wing’s first operations, starting later this year, will be in Blackburg and Christiansburg, VA; obviously an operation like this requires close coordination with municipal authorities as well as federal ones. You can’t just get a permission slip from the FAA and start flying over everyone’s houses. “Wing plans to reach out to the local community before it begins food delivery, to gather feedback to inform its future operations,” the FAA writes in a press release. Here’s hoping that means you can choose whether or not these loud little aircraft will be able to pass through your airspace. Although the obvious application is getting a meal delivered quick even when traffic is bad, there are plenty of other applications. One imagines quick delivery of medications ahead of EMTs, or blood being transferred quickly between medical centers. I’ve asked Wing for more details on its plans to roll this out elsewhere in the U.S., and will update this story if I hear back.
Russell Wilson reportedly gifted his offensive linemen $12,000 each in Amazon stock

Russell Wilson reportedly gifted his offensive linemen $12,000 each in Amazon stock

8:41pm, 22nd April, 2019
Russell Wilson in action during a Seattle Seahawks game at CenturyLink Field. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Deion Sanders may have been “Prime Time” during his playing days in the NFL, but Russell Wilson is a prime player when it comes to Amazon. The Seattle Seahawks QB has taken stock in the guys who helped him become the highest paid player in the NFL by actually purchasing Amazon stock for his offensive linemen as a “thank you” for protecting him every Sunday. Monday that Wilson sent a letter to 13 linemen, informing them that he was gifting them each $12,000 in stock in the Seattle-based tech giant. Wilson spent a total of $156,000 — a week after signing a contract extension with the Seahawks that will pay him a reported $140 million over four years. TMZ Sports shared a from Wilson in which he told his teammates that they “go to battle together” every Sunday and that he would not be where he is today without them. Wilson said he wanted to give the men something that would have a lasting imapact and help them prepare for life after football. “One of the ways I prepare is by investing in companies and ideas that I believe will grow and change the world,” Wilson wrote. “One of these companies is Amazon.” It’s an interesting choice in Seattle-area tech investments given that the team Wilson plays for is what it is because of the Microsoft billions made by the team’s late owner, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. And Wilson himself has helped the NFL and the company for the league — the Microsoft Surface. But maybe with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos did the trick in luring Wilson’s investment dollars. Or, the fact that Bezos , Wilson’s attempt at a social media startup, may have helped. “You have invested in my life … this is my investment into yours,” Wilson said in his letter.