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

12 hours ago - Technology

U.S. should boost AI spending to compete with China, paper argues

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The U.S. must invest in research and development in artificial intelligence to stay ahead of China and other adversaries, argues a new paper penned by Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and two research groups, shared early with Axios.

Why it matters: Reps. Hurd and Kelly, along with the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Center for a New American Security, are pushing forward a bipartisan plan at a time of high tension with China. The U.S. and China compete on 5G development, artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies.

Jul 22, 2020 - Technology

The continuing problem of AI bias

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

While GPT-3 has earned ecstatic reviews from many experts for its capabilities, some critics have pointed out clear issues around bias.

Why it matters: As AI becomes more powerful and more integrated into daily life, it becomes even more important to root out the persistent problem of bias and fairness.

Jul 22, 2020 - Technology

Meet the AI that can write

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A new general language machine learning model is pushing the boundaries of what AI can do.

Why it matters: OpenAI's GPT-3 system can reasonably make sense of and write human language. It's still a long way from genuine artificial intelligence, but it may be looked back on as the iPhone of AI, opening the door to countless commercial applications — both benign and potentially dangerous.

Jul 22, 2020 - Technology

AI security and ethics startup CalypsoAI lands $13 million in funding

Photo: CalypsoAI

CalypsoAI, a machine learning startup with its roots in the defense industry, has raised $13 million to help make government and corporate AI systems more secure and free of bias.

Why it matters: Making AI systems that are free from bias, secure and explainable are all key goals as the technology gets used for increasingly important tasks.

Jul 18, 2020 - Technology

Researchers develop AI algorithm that can generate images

OpenAI's iGPT algorithm in action. Credit: OpenAI

An AI algorithm is capable of automatically generating realistic-looking images from bits of pixels.

Why it matters: The achievement is the latest evidence that AI is increasingly able to learn from and copy the real world in ways that may eventually allow algorithms to create fictional images that are indistinguishable from reality.

Jul 15, 2020 - Technology

The automated unemployment line

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) has helped Rhode Island survive an unprecedented torrent of unemployment claims.

Why it matters: While tech companies were well-positioned to pivot to digital-first business in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown, state governments faced paralysis. With the pandemic continuing and lockdowns potentially returning, states will need to innovate to keep their systems running.

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.

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