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Let's start with our most proven way of creating progress.
1 big thing: Automating really big ideas
2. AI moves into the creative field
Meet Ava. She senses emotional nuance in a photo, and quickly finds others conveying the same vibe — the "emptiness" of a solitary woman, standing against a solid backdrop; a large table, bare of all but an item or two.
Ava is the intelligent invention of VSCO, an Oakland, CA., startup best known for a photo editing and sharing app that is wildly popular among teens. But she is also much more, reflecting a big new creative trend, my colleague Erica Pandey reports:
- Artificial intelligence is creating serious art and music
- It is pointing the way to smart style and fashion
- It can judge landscapes, of potential use to urban designers
And with Ava, AI is showing a potential future of advertising: no longer ignoring customer aesthetic tastes, ad firms could base promotional decisions on them. You like the feel of a photo but can't quite put your finger on why? Ava goes to work and finds more that deliver the same emotion, associating that same good feeling with the advertised brand.
3. The Indian tech reckoning
Indian tech workers—for decades a backbone of the U.S. IT sector, and a big presence in U.S. university STEM programs—are facing a reckoning in the U.S. and at home, and are having to up their skills to adapt, reports my colleague Kim Hart.
- President Trump's proposals to curb immigration favor high-skilled, high-paying jobs, and target Indian IT outsourcing companies like Wipro and Infosys, which rely on H-1B visas to bring workers to the U.S.
- The rise of automation and machine learning technologies will reduce some IT jobs, leading to layoffs.
- Countries like Vietnam and the Philippines are quickly developing tech workforces that compete with India for outsourcing.
- An increasing need for tech collaboration is leading some U.S. and European firms to turn from outsourcing to local talent.
Why it matters: These shifts are a cloud hanging over one of the most vibrant sectors of the Indian economy: Indian IT—coding, creating and testing software, entering data, customer service—creates $150 billion in annual revenue and employs nearly 4 million people. The tech and political trends challenge all of this.
Depending how far they go, the trends are also a potential threat to Silicon Valley startups and IT companies that have formed a symbiotic relationship with Indian know-how and labor.
5. 1 fun thing: GM challenges the Tesla effect
Can stodgy old GM capture some of Elon Musk's ultra-cool image? It's trying, with a top-of-the-page ad across the home page of the NYT on Aug. 22.
- We are talking the contest between the GM Bolt and the Tesla Model 3, both mainstream electrics costing roughly $35,000 and capable of more than 200 miles of driving range on a single charge.
- Until now, GM's promotion of the Bolt had been decidedly low key. But perhaps the company has been awoken after the typically high-profile commercial rollout of Musk's Model 3 last month.
Tale of the tape: The Bolt had its best-selling month in July, delivering 1,971, for a total of 9,563 since the car launched last December. That sounds respectable, until you recall that Musk has orders for 485,000 Model 3s.