Automation and AI

The big picture

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
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

Jul 11, 2020 - Technology

Researchers develop a AI program with manners

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A team of scientists has developed a technique that automatically makes written sentences more polite.

Why it matters: As the authors themselves note in the paper, it is "imperative to use the appropriate level of politeness for smooth communication in conversations." And what better to determine the appropriate level of politeness than an unfeeling machine-learning algorithm?

Jul 11, 2020 - Technology

Researchers say AI tools could make justice systems more just

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Researchers are calling for open and free access to U.S. court records and building an AI tool to analyze them.

Why it matters: Court records are publicly available but expensive to access and difficult to navigate. Freeing up that data — and using machine learning tools to make sense of it — would help make the justice system more just.

A $5 million prize for putting people back to work

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

XPRIZE, a nonprofit organization that holds grand competitions to inspire innovation, announced this week that it would launch a $5 million contest to help retrain workers who lost employment to automation.

Why it matters: The pandemic has only accelerated the job-destroying effects of automation. As the U.S. looks to put tens of millions of people back to work, truly big solutions will be needed.

Jun 24, 2020 - Technology

Lenovo to help businesses return to work

Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo CEO, in 2016. Photo: Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Motorola Mobility

Chinese tech giant Lenovo is joining a growing list of tech firms that see a business in helping other companies reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: Technology can't address all the issues related to a return to office life, but there are lots of opportunities in the software and hardware needed to detect fevers, keep workers physically separated and track which workers have been in contact with one another.

Mercedes and Nvidia design a car that gets better with age

Photo illustration courtesy of Nvidia

Mercedes Benz is teaming up with Nvidia to create a perpetually upgradable computing platform for vehicles that will allow cars to add automated driving functions over time, becoming smarter and more valuable the longer they are on the road.

Why it matters: Self-driving technology won't arrive in a snap. Instead, it will roll out gradually through periodic software updates, similar to the way people refresh their smartphones. It's a fundamental shift in thinking that will extend the life of cars, and allow even used-car buyers to get the latest technologies.

Jun 20, 2020 - Technology

Putting robots down on the farm

The FarmWise Titan weed cutter. Photo: FarmWise

A startup is rolling out automated weed cutters at a moment when COVID-19 has made farm work more dangerous for human beings.

Why it matters: Robots in all fields have received a lift from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and farming is no different. One of the oldest occupations in the world could be the next to be automated.

Jun 20, 2020 - Technology

AI helps scientists decipher flood of coronavirus research

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New and old machine-learning tools are helping scientists sift through the flood of research produced on COVID-19.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic has led to an unprecedented wave of scientific publications on every aspect of the virus and potential treatments.

Jun 17, 2020 - Technology

A venture capital firm's AI platform is behind $100 million of its investments

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A proprietary machine-learning platform has driven more than $100 million in portfolio-company investments for the venture capital firm EQT Ventures, according to numbers first seen by Axios.

Why it matters: EQT Venture's home-brewed Motherbrain platform represents a notable effort to adapt machine learning to the failure-prone process of picking and choosing early-stage tech investments.

Jun 15, 2020 - Technology

Fresh concerns about AI bias in the age of COVID-19

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Businesses facing unprecedented demands during the coronavirus pandemic have boosted their use of artificial intelligence in some of society's most sensitive areas.

Why it matters: Algorithms and the data they rely on are prone to automating preexisting biases — and are more likely to do so when they're rushed into the field without careful testing and review.

Jun 8, 2020 - Technology

IBM is exiting the face recognition business

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna. Photo: IBM

In a letter to members of Congress on Monday, IBM said it is exiting the general-purpose facial recognition business and said it opposes the use of such technology for mass surveillance and racial profiling.

Why it matters: Facial recognition software is controversial for a number of reasons, including the potential for human rights violations as well as evidence that the technology is less accurate in identifying people of color.

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