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Here’s this week’s newsletter: Last week, VentureBeat invited Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM, and other giants of AI into a big tent with brands like Coca-Cola, The New York Times, Tumi, and Walmart, as well as such promising startups as Bark.us, Mezi, Visabot, and Octane AI. The gathering was MB 2017, and the need for practical AI was on nearly everyone’s mind.
Walmart, for instance, is using machine learning to better serve its 140 million weekly shoppers and to make new services possible. Laurent Desegur, vice president of customer experience engineering at WalmartLabs, explained the role of data science to make possible so-called Pick-up Towers within stores, which allow customers to order and pay online for items and then retrieve them, skipping the checkout lines. Desegur also described a 20-store pilot of Scan and Go shopping, a self-serve experience.
Walmart’s brick and mortar innovation is very similar to the Amazon Go concept store, which combines computer vision, machine learning, and sensors to bypass the checkout process entirely.
Improved shopping was just one application of machine learning by Walmart. The retail giant also recently launched an associate delivery program to conquer the last mile problem. To accomplish this, Desegur had to build not just an Uber-like system to determine which associate should deliver to which customer, but he also had to layer in inventory management to make certain the desired products are available for delivery with the push of your thumb.
Read all the MB 2017 coverage here.
Thanks for reading,
Editor in Chief
P.S. Please enjoy this video featuring Google’s DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, “Artificial Intelligence (AI) invents new knowledge and teaches human new theories.”
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Appearing before a meeting of the National Governor’s Association on Saturday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk described artificial intelligence as “the greatest risk we face as a civilization” and called for swift and decisive government intervention to oversee the technology’s development. (via Fortune)
At the start of this year, two straws in the wind caught the attention of those who follow the development of artificial intelligence (AI) globally. First, Qi Lu, one of the bosses of Microsoft, said in January that he would not return to the world’s largest software firm after recovering from a cycling accident, but instead would become chief operating officer at Baidu, China’s leading search engine. Later that month, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence postponed its annual meeting. The planned date for the event in January conflicted with the Chinese new year. (via The Economist)
For more than 250 years the fundamental drivers of economic growth have been technological innovations. The most important of these are what economists call general-purpose technologies — a category that includes the steam engine, electricity, and the internal combustion engine. Each one catalyzed waves of complementary innovations and opportunities. The internal combustion engine, for example, gave rise to cars, trucks, airplanes, chain saws, and lawnmowers, along with big-box retailers, shopping centers, cross-docking warehouses, new supply chains, and, when you think about it, suburbs. (via Harvard Business Review)
Another week, another record-breaking AI research study released by Google—this time with results that are a reminder of a crucial business dynamic of the current AI boom. The ecosystem of tech companies that consumers and the economy increasingly depend on is traditionally said to be kept innovative and un-monopolistic by disruption, the process whereby smaller companies upend larger ones. But when competition in tech depends on machine learning systems powered by huge stockpiles of data, slaying a tech giant may be harder than ever. (via Wired)
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