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Situational awareness: Alibaba's Jack Ma backed away from his promise to President Trump to create 1 million jobs in the U.S., blaming U.S.-China trade tensions.
Last month, we reported on the silent run-up to the age of artificial intelligence, whose green shoots grow without fanfare only to flower a decade or two in the future.
But, but, but: As we reported yesterday, these quiet, behind-the-scenes developments are transforming modern work now.
Axios' Kaveh Waddell writes that we’re watching a slow revolution play out. “We don’t call them AI because they’re already here,” says Berkeley’s Ken Goldberg, a robotics expert who directs the university’s People and Robots Initiative.
In business and consumer tech, this early wave of AI helpers is already everywhere.
The Laboratory of Nuclear Studies, Cornell University, 1948. Photo: Bettmann/Getty
The ultimate goal of AI research is a system that rivals a human’s thinking power — but this is still far out of sight.
Instead, in the coming years, AI may provide an intelligence boost in a different way: by coordinating still-unsurpassed human brainpower and correcting some of the errors inherent how we think, Kaveh reports.
By definition, AI processes information very differently from humans and can combat group-think, Goldberg says.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty
Regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are examining whether Amazon's mountain of data gives it an inherent — and unfair — advantage over rivals. But they may be probing the wrong thing in the data.
Axios' Erica Pandey reports that James Thomson, a former Amazon executive who now consults for brands that sell on the platform, says the e-commerce giant's singular advantage is behavioral data allowing it to precisely target customers for its private label products.
This data tells Amazon who precisely is interested in what product. "They know exactly who has looked for batteries but has not purchased them," Thomson tells Axios. "That's the audience you want."
"They basically get to boil the ocean for their whole catalog and figure out exactly where the opportunities are."— James Thomson
The dominance of Amazon's private label on its platform will become a louder question if voice commerce — something the company is pursuing through Alexa — becomes the next big thing, says Gartner L2 analyst Cooper Smith.
Go deeper: How Amazon steers shoppers to its own products. (NYT)
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Being Elon Musk (Ben Geman — Axios)
An interview with AI expert Kai-Fu Lee (Maria Streshinsky, Jessi Hempel — Wired)
IKEA's vision: autonomous cars that are hotels, stores, and meeting rooms (Elizabeth Woyke — MIT Tech Review) (photos)
Life after Jack Ma (Zen Soo and Li Tao — South China Morning Post)
AI that dreams in tulips (Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan — Fast Company)
The traffic dangers of partial self-driving (Daniel Sperling, Scott Hardman — Axios Expert Voices)
Erica tried VR furniture shopping and AR makeup browsing. Photo: Erica Pandey/Axios
At 2.5 million square feet, the Macy's in Manhattan's Herald Square is the largest store in the U.S. But an entire city block of real estate in one of the world's busiest spots is little more than a burden if the legacy retailer can't figure out how to attract customers in the age of e-commerce.
Visiting New York, Erica tested some of Macy's new virtual reality, augmented reality and machine vision features.
The big picture: Although this technology is at the cutting edge of what’s available in the U.S., it's old news in China. They are going to have to do better.
But, but, but: All of these features and more have been commonplace in China for years.