Automation and AI

The big picture

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
AI is coming for white-collar workers

New research shows that no one is immune.

Nov 20, 2019 - Technology

All Automation and AI stories

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Apr 8, 2021 - Technology

Health care leads the way for top private AI firms

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new list of the top 100 private AI companies shows that health is driving investment in the industry.

Why it matters: COVID-19 has shown the power and potential of AI applications for health, and the growth of the field will continue long after the pandemic has finally ended.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Apr 7, 2021 - Technology

The perils of AI emotion recognition

Photo: Screenshot of Bryan Walsh playing the Emojify game

New AI tools purport to be able to identify human emotion in images and speech patterns.

Why it matters: Prompted in part by the push of the pandemic, tech companies have been advertising emotion recognition programs, but experts warn they may not work — and may be misused.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Apr 6, 2021 - Technology

Sarcos Robotics going public in $1.3 billion SPAC deal

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Sarcos Robotics, a Salt Lake City-based developer of robotic exoskeletons, agreed to go public at a $1.3 billion implied valuation via acquisition by Rotor Acquisition (NYSE: ROT), a SPAC led by Wall Street vet Brian Finn.

Why it matters: Expect this one to get some special scrutiny from the SEC. Finn's venture capital firm, Rotor Capital, last year led a Series C investment in Sarcos and also participated in a CES product unveiling. And Finn seems aware of the potential pitfalls, mentioning the existing relationship early in today's investor presentation.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Mar 27, 2021 - Technology

Building the AI-enabled factory to perfect manufacturing

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A startup is employing AI to streamline and perfect manufacturing.

Why it matters: As valuable as machine learning has been in software, the next phase could be even more disruptive: bringing AI to the often messy process of making things.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Mar 26, 2021 - Technology

ACLU to FOIA information about national security uses of AI

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The ACLU will be seeking information about how the government is using artificial intelligence in national security, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The development of AI has major implications for security, surveillance, and justice. The ACLU's request may help shed some light on the government's often opaque applications of AI.

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Mar 16, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

John Deere eyes 5G for its factories

A tractor in a John Deere factory. Photo courtesy of John Deere

John Deere is planning on introducing 5G technology into its factories, including in Iowa.

Why it matters: 5G is expected to streamline operations, ranging from automated parts delivery to even how employees move in the assembly line.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Mar 13, 2021 - Technology

Training artificial intelligence through synthetic data

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

AI companies are generating synthetic data to train machine learning systems.

Why it matters: Using computer-generated data to train AI systems can help address privacy concerns and cut down on bias while meeting the needs of models that operate in highly specific environments.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Mar 13, 2021 - Technology

The digital bots coming for office jobs

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Software bots are getting smarter and more capable, enabling them to automate much of the work carried out in offices.

Why it matters: Bots can make digital work more efficient by taking on onerous and repetitive white-collar tasks, but the better they get, the more competition they pose to skilled workers who might have thought themselves exempt from the job-disrupting effects of automation.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Mar 4, 2021 - Technology

Seeing like an AI

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New research from a major AI company offers insight into how neural networks are able to "see."

Why it matters: Reliable computer vision is a cornerstone for AI applications like self-driving cars, but the effectiveness of neural nets in recognizing images is only matched by their impenetrability. The new research allows scientists to peer into the black box of computer vision, with implications for reducing bias and errors.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Mar 3, 2021 - Technology

Building a true AI assistant starts with processing language

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Natural Language Processing is one of AI's hottest fields, yielding both practical products in the marketplace and bleeding-edge research.

The big picture: A virtual assistant that you can truly converse with — which depends on highly accurate speech and text recognition — is still beyond the horizon, but the field is making real progress.

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