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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
With robots that can pack orders, an ecosystem of delivery helpers and a fleet of trucks, Amazon is building a shipping juggernaut, Erica writes.
It's not as glossy as space travel or flashy as AI, but the $1.5 trillion a year business of moving stuff around is one of the most lucrative and complex industries in the U.S. And Amazon is attempting to conquer it.
As we've reported, Amazon has signaled its intent to own shipping:
But unlike e-commerce, where Amazon takes more than half of every online dollar spent in the U.S., logistics is filled with worthy competitors that have dominated the industry for a century and won’t be easy prey.
Although Amazon has "been a big disrupter in other industries, I don’t think that they are going to be a major disrupter in the transportation industry," says Beth Davis-Sramek, a professor at Auburn University.
Look for out-and-out war: If Amazon strengthens its network and stops relying on the big shippers, UPS and FedEx could lose one of their biggest customers, hurting their bottom lines. And smaller firms could pick Amazon over them, too. But these companies are not going to roll over.
What's happening: The rise of online retail — and customer demand for speedy delivery — has supercharged the U.S. shipping industry.
To keep up with the fast growth, companies large and small are pouring money into automating logistics, betting that firms that use machines to make deliveries cheaper, faster and more accurate will hit the jackpot.
"The idea is to build the physical internet," says Julian Counihan, founder of Schematic Ventures, an investment fund. "Boxes become bytes that move throughout the supply chain network as seamlessly as data."
The big picture: The logistics industry employs around 15 million people and has the third-highest automation potential of any sector, per McKinsey.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
One of the most frustrating parts of journalism is writing headlines — they need to be pithy and smart, drawing in readers but not infuriating them with cheap clickbait, Kaveh writes.
Perhaps the simplest solution is to summarize an article as efficiently as possible. And because machines are getting increasingly good at that, AI headline writers can now nearly instantly generate titles that outshine even some human-made ones.
What's happening: Primer, an AI company, built a tool to do this, and spoke first with Axios about it.
I asked Bohannon to headline some of our recent stories with the Primer model. The results:
What's next: Summarizing huge troves of documents can help fish out useful information from a bottomless sea. Eventually, says Bohannon, a machine that has a good idea of what you care about can read through millions of documents and send you summaries of only the most relevant information.
Last year, Manchester, England. Photo: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage/Getty
In an announcement today, the Rolling Stones said they will begin a 17-date U.S. tour next month in Chicago, and the bulk of the expected audience is evident in its sponsor — an association of firms that sell annuities.
Speaking with Axios, Jean Statler, executive director of the Alliance for Lifetime Income, says the demographic that she expects at the concerts is ideal for the 24 financial services firms in her association: an average age of 45–75 and with somewhere in the $75,000–$2 million range of assets the alliance targets.
In addition to having its name emblazoned on tour programming before millions of the group's social media followers, the alliance will have tables at the concerts explaining annuities and a VIP lounge.
SpaceX Falcon 9, in March. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty
Joe Rogan. Photo: Michael S. Schwartz/Getty
Comedian Joe Rogan has said all sorts of things on his popular, freewheeling podcast. But he probably hasn't said this: "Now that we have deepfakes and fake voices, I'm starting to believe that we're not far off from simulations after all," Kaveh writes.
And yet you can hear him intone those words in his distinctive Rogan way right here. So what's happening?
What's happening: Researchers at Dessa, an AI company, say they have synthesized Rogan's voice. They claim to be able to type out any phrase and have him speak it aloud.
But, but, but: Dessa hasn't published any technical details about how it made the voice — it promises a follow-up in the coming days. We'll be speaking with Dessa to learn more, too.