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If you’re a parent with young kids, you probably know how arduous it can be to screen a babysitter. According to a survey, roughly 51 percent of families opt not to hire a sitter because it’s too stressful to find someone they like. And among those who have hired one, a whopping 62 percent didn’t bother to check their references.

That spurred Sal Parsa and Joel Simonoff, the cofounders of Berkeley startup Predictim, to develop a no-frills solution that taps artificial intelligence (AI) to generate personality assessments from digital footprints. The eponymous Predictim platform, which launches today, uses natural language processing (NLP) and computer vision algorithms to sift through social media posts — including tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram photos — for warning signs.

“The current background checks parents generally use don’t uncover everything that is available about a person. Interviews can’t give a complete picture,” Parsa said. “A seemingly competent and loving caregiver with a ‘clean’ background could still be abusive, aggressive, a bully, or worse. That’s where Predictim’s solution comes in.”

Predictim’s algorithms take into account “billions” of data points dating back years in a person’s online profile, according to Parsa, and within minutes deliver an evaluation with predicted traits, behaviors, and areas of compatibility, and a digest of their digital history.

Each report consists of a risk assessment score — a speedometer-like gauge indicating the “overall risk” of the babysitter, from green (“not risky”) to red (“very risky”) — and an activity graph showing the number of posts and images they’ve published over the past decade. Personality attributes are broken out into categories like drug abuse, bullying and harassment, explicit content, and attitude.

Parents pony up $24.99 per report.

Guessing at a person’s personality from their online activity isn’t a new idea. Frrole’s DeepSense, which is targeted at enterprises, uses AI to give recruiters and hiring managers insight into learning styles and sociability. AI marketing solutions company Azyenberg, much like Predictim, sets loose natural language processing algorithms on social media to build audience profiles. And email app Crystal not only analyzes a person’s personality and behavior, but recommends communication styles they’re most likely to find amenable.

Parsa claims Predictim is one of the first to tackle the “parental outsourcing” market, though, which according to some estimates is worth in excess of $55.8 billion.

“The most important thing on the mind of any person is the safety of their child or loved one,” he said. “Our goal is to erase worry by giving parents and guardians the necessary tools to hire the most trustworthy and reliable caregiver, piano teacher, tutor, soccer coach, etc., for their loved ones.”

Predictim is a participant in the University of California Berkeley’s Berkeley SkyDeck accelerator.


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