Curio, a startup specializing in transforming expert journalism into professionally narrated content, is harnessing the power of AI technology to deliver personalized audio episodes based on user prompts. By leveraging OpenAI technologies, Curio has trained its AI model using a vast catalog of high-quality journalism from esteemed partners like The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, and New York Magazine. This ensures that the content generated by Curio’s AI assistant, named “Rio,” consists solely of fact-checked information, eliminating any potential for AI-generated “hallucinations.”

In a recent strategic move, Curio has secured additional investment from Chris Anderson, the head of TED and an existing investor in Curio’s Series A round. The exact amount of Anderson’s contribution remains undisclosed, but Curio confirms it to be significant. With previous funding of over $15 million from investors such as EarlyBird, Draper Esprit, Cherry Ventures, Horizons Ventures, and 500 Startups (now known as 500 Global), the company is steadily expanding its financial support.

Founded in 2016 by Govind Balakrishnan, a former BBC strategist, and Srikant Chakravarti, a London lawyer, Curio initially introduced a subscription-based service offering curated audio translations of journalism. The company collaborated with numerous media organizations to license their content, which was then narrated by human voice actors and made available on the Curio app. This approach distinguished Curio from other news audio services that relied on robotic AI voices, providing users with a more engaging and immersive listening experience.

With the integration of AI capabilities, Curio now not only curates hand-picked audio journalism but also creates custom audio episodes based on user queries. This innovative use of AI comes at a time when concerns about AI chatbots spreading false information and generating fabricated facts, known as “hallucinations,” have surfaced. Unlike those instances, Curio’s AI does not generate any fabricated content. Instead, it combines audio clips from its extensive catalog to produce mini podcast episodes that explore topics through reliable, fact-checked journalism.

Users can prompt the AI assistant with queries like “Tell me about the possibility of peace in Ukraine,” “What is the future of food?” or “I have 40 minutes, update me on AI.” However, the AI feature cannot provide information on breaking news since it takes time to translate news articles into narrated audio. Nevertheless, it serves as a valuable tool for in-depth exploration of various subjects.

Curio’s Chief Marketing Officer, Gastón Tourn, emphasizes the company’s commitment to building an AI that does not generate fabricated content. Furthermore, the AI-powered feature unlocks knowledge from journalism, as it suggests relevant articles that may date back several years but remain pertinent to current events.

In addition to the media brands mentioned earlier, Curio has partnerships with The Economist, FT, WIRED, Vox, Vulture, Scientific American, Fast Company, Salon, Aeon, Bloomberg Businessweek, Foreign Policy, and The Cut, among others. Supporting over 30 publications in total, Curio offers a comprehensive library of curated journalism.

To utilize Curio’s new AI feature, users can input their questions or prompts in the provided text box, engaging with the AI assistant similar to interacting with an AI chatbot like ChatGPT. The AI feature is accessible on both Curio’s website and its mobile apps.

Creating a personalized audio episode involves processing over 5,000 hours of audio, which is completed swiftly from the user’s perspective. The result is a tailored audio episode comprising an introduction and two articles sourced from Curio’s publications.

Curio operates as a premium subscription service priced at $24.99 per month ($14.99/month for annual payments). However, the AI feature is currently available

By Impact Lab