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Finnish Prisons: A New Frontier in AI Data Labeling



In the high-security walls of Hämeenlinna prison, a unique form of labor unfolds. Marmalade, a pseudonym for a woman in her forties with a square jaw and blonde hair, sits before an HP laptop, engaging in a task that seems mundane yet is pivotal for the advancement of artificial intelligence. She is part of a groundbreaking initiative where Finnish inmates are employed to train large language models, a venture that blurs the lines between rehabilitation and the quest for cheap, efficient labor.

Marmalade earns €1.54 ($1.67) an hour for three-hour shifts, where she reads short texts about real estate and answers binary questions to help improve the AI’s understanding of construction-specific language. This work is crucial for Metroc, a Finnish startup developing a search engine to aid construction companies in locating new building projects. The AI must discern between projects at different stages, such as those that have already hired an architect versus those still in the hiring phase.

Globally, millions of clickworkers are the invisible force behind AI, distinguishing between pedestrians and palm trees or identifying phrases that denote violence or sexual abuse. While companies like OpenAI outsource to workers in Kenya, Uganda, and India, Finnish presents a unique challenge due to its limited global speakers. This scarcity has led Metroc to turn to Finnish prisons for a workforce fluent in the language.

The project has garnered widespread support in Finland, seen as a means to prepare inmates for the digital workforce upon release. However, it also raises questions about the ethics of using prison labor for technological advancement, drawing uneasy parallels with exploitative labor practices in the tech industry.

Marmalade’s work is part of a larger initiative by Finland’s prison and probation agency, led by Pia Puolakka, head of the Smart Prison Project. The project aims to integrate digital work into the prison system, providing inmates with a variety of labor options and equipping them with skills relevant to the outside world.

Metroc’s founder and CEO, Jussi Virnala, sees the prison collaboration as an innovative solution to the company’s need for native Finnish speakers. The company’s recent €2 million ($2.1 million) funding round has been met with investor curiosity and enthusiasm about the prison labor connection.

However, the use of prison labor for AI training is not without its critics. Amos Toh, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, questions the narrative of a fully automated society and the human cost behind these systems. He points to a trend where companies turn to vulnerable populations, such as refugees or those in economic crisis, and now prisoners, in search of cheap labor.

The ethical implications of this new form of prison labor are complex. While it offers inmates cognitively stimulating work and the potential to learn digital skills, it also risks setting a precedent for more controversial data labeling tasks, such as moderating violent content.

Moreover, the replicability of Finland’s rehabilitative approach to prison labor in countries with less progressive justice systems, like the United States, is uncertain. The American Civil Liberties Union reports that 76 percent of U.S. prisoners say prison labor is mandatory, a stark contrast to the voluntary nature of Finland’s program.

As AI companies’ need for data labor grows, the search for labor forces will continue to push boundaries. Metroc’s consideration of expanding the prison labor project to other countries and languages raises further questions about the future of this intersection between technology and incarceration.

In conclusion, Finland’s prison labor initiative for AI training is a testament to the country’s innovative approach to rehabilitation and technology. However, it also highlights the broader societal and ethical considerations that come with the increasing demand for data labor in the AI revolution.

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TextQL Secures $4.1 Million to Revolutionize Business Intelligence with AI



In a significant move that promises to redefine the landscape of business intelligence, TextQL, an innovative startup, has successfully raised $4.1 million in funding. This substantial financial backing reflects the industry’s confidence in TextQL’s vision to integrate Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions with current business intelligence and documentation tools, thereby making data access more democratic across a multitude of sectors.

Hurst Lin, General Partner at DCM, which co-led the funding rounds, expressed his enthusiasm for TextQL’s mission, stating, “With the rise of data came another issue: non-technical workers were not given the tools to find the answers they needed in the data, until TextQL.” He further added, “We’re excited about the work that TextQL is doing to help non-technical workers across various industries and organizations access the critical data they need to make informed business decisions, and we see TextQL as the solution to free data analysts from the monotony of pulling data requests with their virtual data analyst.”

TextQL’s groundbreaking mission is to fully automate every single step in the lifecycle of data. To achieve this, TextQL has created an AI-powered analyst, aptly named Ana, which simulates the experience of collaborating with a human data analyst. Ana’s integration is seamless across the entire data stack. It connects to your BI tools and directs users to existing dashboards for previously asked questions. Ana also documents your semantic layer and can switch to writing semantic layer code when necessary. This capability is made possible by referencing documentation from enterprise data catalogs, such as Alation, as well as notes in platforms like Confluence or Google Drive.

Ethan Ding, CEO and co-founder of TextQL, shared his insights on the current state of self-service analytics:

“Every conversation about self-service analytics with data practitioners starts with an eye roll. They’ve been sold disappointing self-service products for the past 15 years that are always ready tomorrow, after another new BI tool or a bit more data modeling.”

He elaborated on TextQL’s approach, saying, “TextQL is built to mimic the hierarchy of responses a human analyst goes through – operating across your data stack without any migration. It browses your BI tools, queries your semantic layer, reads your dbt documents, and asks for help when it doesn’t know what to do. This is the hardest unsolved problem at the intersection of enterprise data, AI and user experience – but the difficulty of the problem has attracted a ton of really incredible people to our team.”

Despite the inherent challenges, TextQL has already forged partnerships with organizations that boast tens of thousands of employees across various industries, including media, bio and life sciences, manufacturing, and financial services. Notably, TextQL has recently announced its participation in the NBA Launchpad program, which serves as an accelerated means to transition the NBA’s data platform onto an AI-native trajectory.

The latest round of funding is earmarked for expanding the TextQL team, with a current focus on recruiting software engineers and forward-deployed engineers to join their team of ex-founders. These new hires will contribute to data engineering and language model training. With the bolstered team, TextQL anticipates the capacity to onboard an additional ten companies in the upcoming quarter.

Ali Partovi, CEO of Neo, praised TextQL’s ambitious vision and Ethan’s technical leadership, stating, “The world of data is at the brink of a seismic shift as AI relieves us from manually organizing database tables and writing SQL. TextQL will unlock a massive surge in data usage where anybody in an org can access data and get insights just by asking questions instead of waiting for the engineers to construct queries.”

TextQL’s Ana platform is set to introduce a dynamic Metadata engine capable of indexing from Notion, Confluence, Google Drive, and Microsoft Office; compatibility with business intelligence tools like Tableau, Looker, and PowerBI; an AI-enhanced semantic layer for dbt, Cube, and LookML; a Python-proficient language model that complies with HIPAA and SOC 2; and a Slack integration for streamlined team communication.

In the near future, TextQL is poised to announce key technology partnerships with their preferred semantic layer, business intelligence platform, and data catalogs.

About TextQL

TextQL’s mission is to democratize and automate data analysis by building generative AI-powered data discovery and analytics for the modern data stack. By automating the day-to-day job of a data analyst, TextQL is replacing the tasks of human analysts, from pulling dashboards to answering data questions straight from a company’s data warehouse, in order to get business teams answers about their company’s data in seconds instead of days. To learn more about their innovative approach to data analysis, visit TextQL’s website.

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Embracing AI-Powered Analytics: The Game-Changer for Business Agility



In the competitive arena of business, parallels are often drawn with the world of sports, where the formulation of a winning strategy and the ability to adapt to the unexpected are key to success. As the legendary football manager Sir Alex Ferguson once said, “part of the pursuit of excellence involves eliminating as many surprises as possible because life is full of the unexpected.” This philosophy is increasingly relevant in today’s business landscape, where adaptability and agility are not just buzzwords but essential traits for survival and growth.

The past few years have been a testament to the unpredictable nature of the global market, with businesses facing a relentless onslaught of challenges and crises. In this environment, the ability to pivot and seize new opportunities has become critical. Reflecting on and improving how businesses respond to change is an ongoing necessity.

In the sports world, adjustments might mean tactical shifts or player substitutions. In business, it revolves around making informed decisions based on available data. With the technological underpinnings of modern enterprises, the volume of data is expanding at an unprecedented rate. From approximately 4.4 zettabytes of data in 2013, estimates suggest a staggering increase to 181 zettabytes by 2025.

This burgeoning data mountain presents a formidable challenge for companies aiming for enterprise agility. The question arises: How can businesses maintain operational flexibility and informed decision-making without effectively managing this data?

The Rise of Big Data and AI-Powered Analytics

The relentless growth of data underscores the urgent need for businesses to adapt their data storage, protection, and utilization strategies. A key aspect of this adaptation is enabling employees to access and interpret vast datasets seamlessly. Given the sheer scale of data, manual processing is no longer feasible, making automated analytics an indispensable tool for unlocking data’s value.

While analytics is not a novel concept, the scalability required today is unprecedented. The velocity at which new data volumes and types are generated necessitates tools designed for inherent elasticity and growth.

Different types of analytics tools, such as descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive methods, are crucial. However, AI-powered analytics tools are particularly noteworthy, as they are set to become faster, more intelligent, and more accurate as they process larger training datasets. These tools are not just a future consideration but a present necessity.

For instance, the manufacturing industry has integrated AI with analytics to gain comprehensive insights from all data types, whether structured or unstructured, historical, or real-time. These insights drive advanced manufacturing processes like smart factories, digital twins, and autonomous supply chains.

Manufacturers can use digital twins to simulate various scenarios and adapt their plans based on simulation outcomes, thus mitigating the impact of unforeseen events.

Other industries stand to benefit similarly. AI-powered analytics can optimize risk management in finance or tailor customer offerings in retail, among numerous other applications. As we delve deeper into the era of big data, powerful analytics will increasingly become a business mainstay.

Making Agility Central to Business Strategy

AI-powered analytics should be a cornerstone of any business’s agility strategy, aiming to place the company on a future-proof trajectory. By delivering actionable insights at the right time, AI analytics may not predict the future with absolute certainty, but it is vital for long-term success as data continues to proliferate.

Businesses, akin to sports teams, must be tactically agile, knowing when to attack or defend. The most successful managers and players appear to possess an almost mystical ability to triumph, but in reality, their success is grounded in informed tactical analysis and the capacity to adapt to changing circumstances.

For businesses to avoid being outpaced, agility must be at the core of all priorities, from securing data against cyber-attacks to enhancing customer experiences. The current moment is ripe for a tangible shift in how we approach the future, with AI-powered analytics playing a central role.

In conclusion, as businesses navigate the complexities of the modern data landscape, the integration of AI-powered analytics into their strategic framework is not just an option but a necessity. By harnessing the power of AI, companies can transform data into actionable insights, fostering the agility needed to thrive in an ever-changing market.

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AI Secures $150 Million in Funding to Propel AI Innovation and Market Expansion



ORLANDO, Fl., Jan. 30, 2024 — In a significant move that underscores the burgeoning potential of conversational and generative AI,, a frontrunner in enterprise AI platform technology, has announced a colossal $150 million in funding. The strategic investment aimed at growth is spearheaded by FTV Capital, a seasoned growth equity investor with a commendable track record spanning over 25 years in enterprise technology investments. The funding round also saw contributions from tech giant NVIDIA and a cohort of existing investors, including Vistara Growth, Sweetwater PE, NextEquity, Nicola, and Beedie.

The injection of capital is set to accelerate’s market expansion and foster continuous innovation in AI, with the goal of delivering substantial business and human value on a global scale. The company’s announcement comes at a time when the AI market is experiencing rapid growth and disruption, driven by technological advancements and evolving user expectations. According to Gartner, the conversational AI market is projected to skyrocket to $377 billion in revenue by 2032, a significant leap from $66 billion in 2023. This growth trajectory reflects an exponential demand for enhanced customer experiences, streamlined business operations, and innovative GenAI applications that address specific business tasks. stands out in the AI landscape with its enterprise-grade, no-code platform designed to empower companies of all sizes to harness AI in a safe and responsible manner, while simultaneously driving significant revenue and cost savings. The platform’s offerings range from conversational virtual assistants to generative AI (Gen AI) applications, featuring purpose-built workflows, highly configurable tools, and a flexible, open architecture. This combination is celebrated by customers and analysts alike as a leading approach in the industry, enabling teams to craft custom solutions or deploy pre-built, domain-trained virtual assistants across multiple industries such as banking, healthcare, and retail, and across various functional roles including IT, HR, and more, thereby accelerating time-to-value.

Raj Koneru, founder and CEO of, emphasized the company’s deep-rooted expertise in AI, stating, “We have been working with advanced AI for a decade now – our deep technology expertise and market understanding put us in a prime position to take advantage of the momentum and to do AI right in order to meet growing customer needs.” He further highlighted the company’s strategic position above the infrastructure layer and LLM chaos, offering businesses freedom of choice with built-in guardrails for effective AI implementation.’s growth is not just theoretical; it’s evidenced by its impressive track record. The company has consistently shown triple-digit year-over-year growth in revenues and automates 450 million interactions a day for about 200 million consumers and two million enterprise users worldwide.’s expansion has been bolstered by rising demand from emerging markets in Asia Pacific, Europe, LatAm, and the Middle East, leading to the addition of new Global 2000 enterprise customers across major verticals.

The company’s success has not gone unnoticed in the industry. has been recognized as a leader and an innovator by top analysts, including being named a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Conversational AI Platforms twice in a row.

Kapil Venkatachalam, partner at FTV Capital, expressed his firm’s enthusiasm for the partnership, saying, “We’ve spent significant time examining the landscape and evaluating advanced-AI platforms, and clearly stood out with its proven enterprise-grade platform capabilities, visionary leadership, strong R&D focus, established global customer base and clear path to profitability.” He also noted FTV Capital’s intent to leverage their deep knowledge and network to catalyze’s success.’s market understanding and expertise across diverse use cases have earned it a clientele that includes several Fortune 2000 companies across various industry verticals. Notable customers include PNC Bank, AT&T, Cigna, Coca-Cola, Airbus, and Roche.

With a decade of experience in helping enterprises realize business value through AI,’s innovative platform, no-code tools, and solutions are used to deliver end-to-end customer and employee experiences from automated to human-assisted, and to build generative AI-enabled applications. The company’s open approach allows companies to choose the LLMs and infrastructure that best meet their business needs.

Trusted by over 200 partners and 400 Fortune 2000 companies, helps them navigate their AI strategy. The company has a strong patent portfolio in the AI space and has been recognized as a leader and an innovator by top analysts. Headquartered in Orlando, has a network of offices to support customers, including in India, the UK, Middle East, Japan, South Korea, and Europe.

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