Y Combinator, arguably the best known startup accelerator in the world, has published an updated "requests for startups" list, adding nine categories that it wants to see more applications from.
While Y Combinator's blog post says applying startups do not have to be working on any of these 25 ideas to be accepted into a program, the accelerator wants to see startups in these categories since it thinks they are issues technology can fix. Included in the nine new categories are "Brick and Mortar 2.0," "Improving Memory," "Safeguards Against Fake Video" and "Voice Apps." You can see the full 25 categories and descriptions of each here.
"Safeguards against Fake Video" is an especially interesting topic, since AI can now be used to make anyone say anything with just a selfie as a starting point. Put this incredibly believable footage together with neural network-powered human speech and it may be almost impossible to identify what's real and what's fake. The technology could be used to make a politician say something they didn't say, or for public smearing, slander and libel. Identifying and notifying users of fake video is going to increasingly become a problem, so Y Combinator's interest makes sense.
This video from BBC News demonstrates how AI can be used to manipulate facial movement and speech.
Y Combinator has always advocated that it cares more about the people applying than the idea -- because it's easier to change an idea than it is to change people -- and that these categories should be used as inspiration and encouragement to apply to the US-based accelerator. The next application deadline for the Summer 2018 batch is March 24, so get applying!