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Last year marked Amazon’s first re:MARS conference, an event that drew inspiration from the annual MARS gathering hosted by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and focused on machine learning, automation, robotics, and space technology. Among the marquee presenters were Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr.; Aicha Evans, CEO of self-driving startup Zoox; and iRobot founder Colin Angle. Amazon is promising an equally star-studded lineup for this summer’s extravaganza.

The upcoming re:MARS event — which will once again take place at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas from June 16-19 — will feature speakers such as Bezos and Jon Favreau, who has had a hand in blockbusters like Iron Man and Disney’s The Mandalorian series. Favreau might seem like an incongruous choice, but AI played a role in the live-action remake of the Lion King, which he directed. Virtual production supervisor Ben Grossman told TechCrunch that AI was used to “instruct” digital animals during production.

Among other executives and luminaries who will be in attendance are Amazon worldwide consumer CEO Jeff Wilke and MIT planetary scientist and astrophysicist Dr. Sara Seager, as well as Caltech professor of planetary science and Jet Propulsion Laboratory researcher Dr. Bethany Ehlmann.

Here’s who else to expect:

  • Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, professor of media arts and sciences and head of MIT’s personal robots group
  • Dr. Kate Darling, MIT media lab research specialist
  • Dr. Ayanna Howard, chair of the Georgia Tech School of Interactive Computing
  • Dr. Maja Matarić, University of Southern California professor of computer science, neuroscience, and pediatrics
  • Boyan Slat, CEO and founder of the Ocean Cleanup
  • Dr. Eric Topol, executive vice president of Scripps Research and founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute
  • Ben Grossman, mixed reality director and CEO of Magnopus

Amazon says the first year of re:MARS attracted “thousands” of attendees from over 40 countries. They attended over 100 sessions, workshops, and demos involving a Mars rover, haptic robotic hands, an open source prosthetic leg, and more. New at re:MARS 2020 is a Developer Day ahead of the conference that will enable ticketholders to sit in on talks by Amazon leaders across five technical tracks spanning Alexa and AWS.

If this year’s re:MARS is anything like last year’s, expect plenty in the way of technical discussions about Amazon’s “continued investment in innovation,” including the practical applications of machine learning underpinning Alexa, AWS services like Amazon Polly and Rekognition, Amazon’s cashierless Go stores, its Prime Air delivery drones, autonomous warehouse machines developed by Amazon Robotics, and more. Notable announcements in 2019 pertained to StyleSnap, which uses AI to let customers shop looks from magazines, social media, and more; a  Prime Air drone capable of delivering packages in under 30 minutes; and Alex Conversations, a deep learning-based way to make Alexa skills with multi-turn dialogue that can interconnect with other skills from the assistant.

General registration for re:MARS 2020 opens today.


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