Automation and AI

The big picture

The disinformation threat from text-generating AI
The disinformation threat from text-generating AI

A new report raises alarms over the power of systems like GPT-3 to generate vast quantities of deceptive content.

May 19, 2021 - Technology
AI is industrializing

The challenges AI faces are shifting from what the field can do to what it should do

Mar 3, 2021 - Technology
How the automation economy can turn human workers into robots

Automation isn't destroying warehouse work, but it is shaping it in challenging ways.

Feb 27, 2021 - Technology
AI and automation are creating a hybrid workforce

But without changes to tax regulations and training, human workers will lose ground over time

Oct 31, 2020 - Technology
The next wave of job automation will be virtual

Virtual agents could augment human workers in online services at a time of mass unemployment

May 2, 2020 - Technology
Automation is 2020's least understood issue

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

Dec 8, 2019 - Economy & Business

All Automation and AI stories

Jan 12, 2022 - Economy & Business

A new reality check on self-driving cars

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Some carmakers and tech companies say they're preparing to deliver self-driving cars to consumers within just a few years, a fresh promise that makes it seem like 2016 again. But beware the hype.

Why it matters: Your car might be capable of driving itself in the not-too-distant future, but only under certain conditions, like favorable weather or within certain geographic limits. And the timetable is squishy at best.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Dec 22, 2021 - Technology

The benefits and risks of new tech will decide the future

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

The future we will live in will largely be a function of balancing the benefits that new technology brings with the risks and downsides it inevitably causes.

Why it matters: The pandemic has demonstrated both the value of accelerated technology and the penalty when it's held back by red tape and regulation — lessons that would be smart to take for a future that demands innovation.

Dec 22, 2021 - Technology

Exclusive poll: Americans want government action on tech

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Data: Axios/Illinois Tech/YouGov; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Big majorities of Americans think tech companies are too big and too nosy and want government to rein them in, an exclusive poll by Axios and the Illinois Institute of Technology finds.

Why it matters: As technology's role in American life increases, people on both sides of today's political divide have grown wary of its influence.

Dec 21, 2021 - Technology

What's next: a digital butler for your car

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Your next car might well be able to read your mind, offering suggestions of where to go and what to do before you even ask it.

Why it matters: Artificial intelligence and machine learning are making vehicles smarter and safer than ever, and could potentially transform the relationship between driver and machine.

Driving the news: Cerence, a pioneer in vehicle voice-recognition, will be showing off an intuitive, AI-powered driving companion early next month at CES, the big consumer electronics show in Las Vegas.

  • Its new Cerence Co-Pilot, announced Monday, is designed to anticipate the needs of drivers through AI and continuous learning — think of it as a butler for your car.
  • Instead of drivers telling the car what to do with traditional wake-up words like, "Hey Alexa" or "Hey Mercedes," Co-Pilot will proactively offer to perform actions before drivers even need to ask.

How it works: The AI is integrated with the car's sensors and data to understand what's going on inside the vehicle and around it.

  • Acting as the car's central brain, the technology analyzes input from a combination of voice, gaze, gesture and touch controls, along with driver preferences and real-time sensor data, to keep drivers informed and anticipate their desires.

For example, the system can suggest ordering and paying for a cup of coffee when the driver is a mile from their favorite coffee shop.

  • Or, it could recognize a maintenance issue and offer to set up a service appointment.
  • Knowing that the driver has a meeting 50 miles away tomorrow morning, Co-Pilot could suggest stopping for fuel today, even though the low-fuel warning light isn't on.
  • It can also deliver real-time information such as severe weather approaching and offer to put the car in the appropriate driving mode.

Yes, but: Co-Pilot can also act like a backseat driver, pointing out that rolling stop you did at the last intersection, for example.

  • You can control notifications, though, so the system will learn when you don't want to be bugged, Cerence CTO Prateek Kathpal tells Axios.

What to watch: The technology will debut next month on two unnamed models, Cerence says.

  • Cerence Co-Pilot is just a taste of the news about smart car technology expected at CES starting Jan. 3.

Dec 17, 2021 - Technology

Toys are getting smarter

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Demand for tech-infused toys is growing — and raising alarm about kids' privacy and safety.

The big picture: The global smart toy market is projected to swell to nearly $70 billion by 2026, per Transparency Market Research.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Dec 11, 2021 - Technology

Charting an ethical path for quantum computing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As quantum computing matures, industry experts are calling for ethics to be taken into account as early as possible.

Why it matters: Previous technological development in social media and AI took place before their makers fully grappled with the ethical considerations.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Dec 10, 2021 - Technology

An AI can inspire intimacy (with a little human help)

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The AI startup Primer has harnessed a natural language processing (NLP) model to generate conversation-provoking questions for team building.

Why it matters: The exercise shows how AI, properly trained by experts, can "help humans be more humans," as Primer director of science John Bohannon puts it.

Seeking a common language for self-driving cars

Zoox is developing sound patterns that can be pinpointed toward individuals to indicate the intentions of its robotaxi. Photo: Zoox

Autonomous vehicle companies are exploring the use of a common language — standardized light patterns or sounds — that would help driverless cars communicate their intentions to humans.

Why it matters: Autonomous vehicles will share the road with human-driven vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists for a long time. The development of a standard communications method could build trust and reduce traffic accidents.

  • Unlike today's drivers, AVs can't make eye contact with other road users or gesture to indicate it’s OK to cross the road.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Dec 4, 2021 - Technology

AI could end foreign-language subtitles

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

AI companies are developing methods to interpret and synthesize voices in ads, movies and TV.

Why it matters: The advances in voice synthesis could help fix bad movie dubbing — and they come as international content is becoming increasingly important to studios and streaming platforms as part of the globalization of entertainment.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated Dec 4, 2021 - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.

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