Home Money Airchat is Silicon Valley’s latest obsession

Airchat is Silicon Valley’s latest obsession

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Airchat is Silicon Valley's latest obsession

Ravikant said most of Airchat’s funding came from his own fund, as well as from Jeff Fagnan, founding partner at Accomplice Ventures. “[OpenAI CEO] “Sam Altman threw out a check, kind of blindly,” Ravikant said. He communicated all of this to me in a public response on Airchat, after politely refusing to respond to my direct messages and insisting that our conversation should take place in public. “It can’t be a DM-based side channel interview. That’s the old world we’re leaving behind,” he told me. (In the old world, as in the new, conducting an interview synchronously is almost always…preferable.)

So far, the Airchat feed appears to be filled with technology enthusiasts, early adopters, venture capitalists, and journalists. There are many Bitcoin publications. Winefluencer Gary Vaynerchuk is on the app. So is Y Combinator CEO Garry Tan. This weekend, Tan posted: “Breakfast is the first step to greatness. What are you going to eat this morning? So far it has more than 96 audio responses. Social media is back, baby.

Airchat has AI. No? However, the implementation of the app is quite sensible. Transcriptions of each Airchat voice note appear almost immediately and are good. Pronounced “Ums” appear in the transcription, but other soft pauses and filler words are removed. When I used the word “Airchat” in a voice memo, it first appeared as “chat error” and then quickly autocorrected. The app also appears to be able to recognize and transcribe other languages; one user spoke in Russian and the transcription appeared in Cyrillic, while another spoke in Moroccan Arabic, known as darija, and then marveled in a voice note at how good the transcription was.

So what will happen to all this voice data? Ravikant stated that the creators of Airchat have no intention of training a large language model with users’ voices and making “strange synthetic clones of you.” He also said that he wouldn’t sell Airchat data to another company that creates AI models, especially given how relatively small the app is and how poorly categorized its data is. However, Airchat will likely use people’s voice data to train a model to improve its own audio and transcription features. If you are in, you have chosen to participate.

I asked Ravikant if any AI company could still extract data from Airchat without a formal agreement. He responded: “We’ll block them, sue them, and then, if I have a battery of orbital satellites, we’ll bomb them from orbit.”

Airchat’s monetization plans are less clear. Navikant has not said anything about charging for access. The current format seems to lend itself to audio ads, but there is always the risk that the app cannot be heard.

There’s also the issue of content moderation when people’s unfiltered sound bytes are posted to a timeline the moment they drop the virtual microphone. One troll seemed to be pushing the envelope on Sunday, cursing out the app’s founders, calling it “fucking trash” and, in other words, telling the founders to, uh, perform fellatio. The voice note is still there. So is a thread in which two users go back and forth telling a story about “gay Jewish teenagers” and “neo-Nazi murderers.”

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