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Salesforce today released a suite of tools for its product developers with artificial intelligence features that, among other things, recognize sarcasm in an email and understand that it is a product complaint.

Richard Soucher, Salesforce's chief scientist, tells Axios that the new tools, part of the company's Einstein platform, will allow clients, without having to write their own AI code, to build out products with a greater ability to read the sentiment in an email, and route it to the right place. A company — such as an airline — could understand much more quickly that passengers are angry on Twitter, and generally why. Customers often use nuanced expressions to convey their unhappiness — such as sarcasm — and the tool is meant to understand such indirect speech.

Another tool will identify individual objects in a photograph, understanding precisely what is on a store shelf and how many containers of a product are still there. Soucher announced the tools at the O'Reilly Artificial Intelligence Conference, held in New York.

Bottom line: With this release, Salesforce pushes more AI-powered capability into commercial products. It injects a more advanced, off-the-shelf quality into the still-mysterious AI space, suggesting a wider buildout of AI into everyday commerce.

Jaime Carbonnell, director of the Languages Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, said the new Salesforce capabilities do not advance the field. It is "old tried-and-true technology being applied (probably in a very reasonable way) to relevant problems," he told Axios.

However, Martial Hebert, director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon, said the suite does go some way toward democratizing AI — producing "a developer's kit [and] making this accessible to all, not just the experts."

Go deeper

Instagram's boss faces Congress' questions on harm to teens

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED

The head of Instagram will find himself in Congress' crosshairs for the first time Wednesday in the one area lawmakers have shown they are willing to pass tech regulations — protecting youngsters online.

Why it matters: Republicans and Democrats have found common ground in grilling tech companies on how their products harm children, especially after revelations in The Wall Street Journal about Instagram's potential harm to the mental health of teen girls.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
58 mins ago - Health

Experts fear a bad flu season on top of COVID

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Public health officials are warning that the U.S. may be on the verge of a dangerous double whammy: COVID and flu, spreading simultaneously.

The big picture: The Delta variant is still circulating across the U.S., and the Omicron variant isn't far behind. On top of that, experts see potential warning signs of a bad flu season, which could leave millions of Americans vulnerable and strain health care resources.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Australia joins U.S. in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Australia is joining the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in protest of human rights abuses committed by China's government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: After the Biden administration's announcement that U.S. officials won't attend the Games due to the ongoing genocide of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region of China, Morrison said at a Sydney briefing that Australia would follow suit as "it's the right thing to do."