Automation and AI

The big picture

Automation is 2020's least understood issue

It deserves more attention than it's getting in the 2020 presidential race.

Dec 8, 2019
AI is coming for white-collar workers

New research shows that no one is immune.

Nov 20, 2019
Looking to AI to understand how we learn

Two parallel quests to understand learning — in machines and in our own heads — are converging.

Aug 8, 2019
Deep Dive: How the robot revolution is changing our lives

We're entering a new, robot-fueled tech boom .

Jun 2, 2018
Here's where jobs will be lost when robots drive trucks

The impact of self-driving trucks would be felt in communities around the country — especially Trump country.

Updated Jun 2, 2018

All Automation and AI stories

Stanford experts call for national resource for AI research

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Artificial intelligence experts at Stanford University are calling for the creation of a task force to establish a National Research Cloud to aid American AI research.

Why it matters: Government support for basic science helped create the post-war American technological colossus. But the unique resource needs of advanced AI research demand a new approach to ensure the field isn't dominated by a few large, rich companies.

AI in medicine may be overhyped

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new review concludes that the claims that artificial intelligence is better than human experts at interpreting medical scans and images are likely overblown.

Why it matters: There's legitimate hope that AI could improve patient care and cut costs. But there's also a real risk that people could be hurt if biased or mistake-prone algorithms are rushed into medicine.

Go deeperArrowMar 28, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus-related recession could spike automation

An employee at the Technical University of Munich checks a pipetting robot that prepares samples from people with suspected Covid-19. Photo: Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic could accelerate the rise of the robots, according to a Brookings Institution blog post Tuesday.

Why it matters: A COVID-19-caused recession will likely lead to a spike in automation, meaning some of the jobs lost to the virus will never return as companies restructure their operations to rely more on machines than people.

Tech firms crunch coronavirus data to track disease spread

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Tech companies are using artificial intelligence and other tools to comb through coronavirus data to track cases and find transmission hotspots.

Why it matters: Finding patterns in otherwise discrete data points could help make sense of where and how the virus is spreading in the U.S., and could aid in allocating the country's limited testing and treatment capabilities.

Robotic supply chains for a post-pandemic world

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The massive disruption caused by COVID-19 could lead companies to tap automation to manufacture products much closer to home.

Why it matters: The pandemic is revealing that the globalized supply chain that brings us many of our products is shockingly fragile. Easily programmable industrial robots could make it simpler to produce what we use here in the U.S., reducing that vulnerability.

White House seeks AI help in answering coronavirus questions

A White House official takes temperatures ahead of a press briefing. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images.

The White House on Monday called on artificial intelligence experts to help the scientific community answer key questions about the novel coronavirus.

The big picture: Researchers and companies created a dataset of academic literature of more than 29,000 articles about the COVID-19 illness, the virus behind it and related pathogens. Now the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy wants experts to mine that data to quickly answer questions about the pandemic.

How female workers can manage automation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Workers are set to have their futures upended by the effects of automation, but while the plight of men in manufacturing has received much of the attention, women will face unique challenges.

The big picture: Experts disagree about whether female workers will be more vulnerable to automation than men. What's clear is that automation will accentuate existing gender gaps in the workforce, and that without policies to assist the transition, older and less educated women in particular risk being left behind.

Waymo raises $2.25 billion to fuel its self-driving tech plans

Waymo's self-driving lineup (Photo courtesy of Waymo)

Waymo said it has raised $2.25 billion in new funding — adding its first non-Alphabet investors — and said it will likely bring in other first-round investors as its self-driving technology moves closer to commercialization.

Why it matters: It's a strong signal that these investors believe Waymo — the self-driving tech startup from Google parent Alphabet — is leading the race to bring automated vehicles to market. But it's also a reminder that the technology is incredibly expensive, and eventually, parent company Alphabet expects Waymo to stand on its own.

Catholic leaders call for ethical guidelines around AI

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Catholic leaders presented Pope Francis with a broad proposal for AI ethics, education and rights on Friday as part of an AI conference at the Vatican in Rome.

Why it matters: Algorithms are already starting to replace human decision-making, but ethicists and activists say now is the time to speak up on the values those algorithms should embody.

The megatrends that will shape the 21st century

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

An enormous amount of change has been crammed into the first two decades of the 21st century — but what’s coming next will break every speed record.

The big picture: The world is being buffeted by rapid yet uneven advances in technology that will revamp work and what it means to be human. At the same time, fundamental demographic changes will alter democracies and autocracies alike while the effects of climate change accumulate, physically redrawing our globe.

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