All Automation and AI stories

Ina Fried, author of Login
Dec 9, 2020 - Technology

Scoop: Google CEO pledges to investigate exit of top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo: Carsten Koall/Getty Images

Google CEO Sundar Pichai apologized Wednesday for the company's handling of the departure of AI ethics researcher Timnit Gebru and said he would investigate the events and work to restore trust, according to an internal memo sent companywide and obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: Gebru's exit has provoked anger and consternation within Google as well as in academic circles, with thousands of people signing an open letter urging Google to reexamine its practices.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Nov 19, 2020 - Technology

Survey: Executives are prioritizing AI skills

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Executives and senior managers say they will prioritize hiring candidates who have skills in automation and AI, according to a survey first shared with Axios.

Why it matters: Automation hasn't yet transformed the business world, in part because companies don't yet know how to harness these new technologies. If that's going to happen, they'll need workers who know how to use AI.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Nov 18, 2020 - Technology

AI pioneer looks to specialize products for real-world business

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A pioneering AI scientist and entrepreneur argues that technology needs to be specialized to work effectively in manufacturing.

Why it matters: AI has been slower to make a difference in many forms of business because it still takes expertise and investment to use it effectively. For now, that means models will need to be trained individually to be effective on the factory floor.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Nov 18, 2020 - Technology

The robo-job apocalypse is being delayed

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A sprawling new report makes the case that automation and AI won't lead to widespread job destruction anytime soon.

Why it matters: Technological advances in AI and automation will have an enormous impact on the workforce, but it may take decades for those effects to be fully felt. That gives business leaders and politicians a last chance to change labor and education policies that have left too many workers locked in low-quality, low-paying jobs.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Nov 14, 2020 - Technology

AI talent appears open to working on defense — with caveats

An aerial view of the Pentagon. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

A new survey offers some evidence that most artificial intelligence experts are positive or neutral when it comes to working with the Pentagon on AI-enabled projects.

Why it matters: Employee concerns have led some tech companies to pull back from working on defense-related projects in the past, but for many in the AI world, the chance to work on intellectually challenging projects — and the Pentagon's not insignificant budget — seems too good to pass up.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Nov 14, 2020 - Technology

The military is calling in AI for support

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

For all our fears about Terminator-style killer robots, the aim of AI in the U.S. military is likely to be on augmenting humans, not replacing them.

Why it matters: AI has been described as the "third revolution" in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear weapons. But every revolution carries risks, and even an AI strategy that focuses on assisting human warfighters will carry enormous operational and ethical challenges.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
Nov 10, 2020 - Economy & Business

Robots vs. retail workers

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

For years, retail has been lurching toward automation. Last week, Walmart took a significant step back.

Why it matters: In a rare win for retail workers, Walmart decided to take shelf-scanning robots out of its stores in favor of humans. But automation is still coming faster for retail jobs than for most other occupations, experts say.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Oct 31, 2020 - Technology

AI and automation are creating a hybrid workforce

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

AI and automation are receiving a boost during the coronavirus pandemic that in the short term is creating a new hybrid workforce rather than destroying jobs outright.

The big picture: While the forces of automation and AI will eliminate some jobs and create some new ones, the vast majority will remain but be dramatically changed. The challenge for employers will be ensuring workforces are ready for the effects of technology.

Oct 30, 2020 - Technology

Knitting robotaxis into public transit

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Autonomous vehicle fleets won't likely replace buses and trains in major cities, but two mobility tech firms are exploring how self-driving taxis might improve access to public transit systems.

What's happening: Self-driving tech company Motional (a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv) this week announced a partnership with Via that the companies say will serve as a blueprint for an on-demand, shared robotaxi service.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Oct 28, 2020 - Technology

Inequality grows in AI research

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new working paper finds that as high-level AI research began to require huge amounts of computing resources, large tech firms and elite universities increasingly dominated the field's most important conferences.

Why it matters: If only the most well-funded researchers are able to drive the direction of AI, the diversity of voices will narrow at the very moment when AI is poised to transform how we live and work.