All Automation and AI stories

EU stakes out positions on regulating data, artificial intelligence

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The European Commission released long-awaited position papers Wednesday on several key digital issues, including how to treat the continent's digital data and how best to regulate artificial intelligence.

Why it matters: Europe has traditionally trailed the U.S. in creating giant tech companies that gobble up consumer data, but it has led in issuing rules and policies to govern such practices.

Hyundai and Kia to develop vehicles with electric skateboard tech

Canoo's electric skateboard will be the basis for future Hyundai and Kia vehicles. Photo: Courtesy of Canoo

Hyundai and Kia announced this week they will develop future vehicles using electric skateboard technology developed by startup Canoo.

Why it matters: It's the first big partnership for Canoo, a 2-year-old EV company founded by former BMW executives who fled Faraday Future.

Climate activists target Big Tech over fossil fuel work

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Big Tech is making splash with its aggressive carbon reduction goals, but some of its employees and climate activists are criticizing Google, Microsoft and Amazon for nonetheless partnering with fossil fuel companies to use artificial intelligence to find hidden hydrocarbons and bring them to market.

Why it matters: Big oil companies are some of the richest, most resourceful enterprises in the world. They collect multiple terabytes of data daily but don't have the capacity to analyze and efficiently utilize that volume of facts without AI.

Clearview brings privacy concerns from facial recognition into focus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

People warning about the potentially chilling collision of big data sets and emerging technologies can now point to Clearview, the secretive facial recognition startup that scraped images from some of the largest public internet sites to create a database now used by hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the country.

Why it matters: Facial recognition tools have already raised privacy concerns in the U.S. and abroad, particularly when they're used by government, but the controversy over Clearview has shown that both industry and law enforcement are moving faster than the debate.

Self-driving cars are getting their own rules

Nuro's R2 has no occupants, mirrors or windshield. Photo: Courtesy of Nuro

Regulators are starting to rewrite rules for self-driving cars to share the road with traditional vehicles.

The big picture: Automated test vehicles are allowed on public roads in some states — so long as they comply with existing safety standards written for human-driven vehicles.

Waymo's trucking ambitions

Photo: Courtesy of Waymo

Waymo, whose driverless minivans are already shuttling a limited number of passengers in suburban Phoenix, will soon begin delivering packages for UPS as part of a new strategic partnership announced this week.

Why it matters: Waymo's ambition is to use the same self-driving technology in its minivans to automate big rigs and delivery trucks like the ones UPS uses every day. This is an important step toward that goal.

Google CEO calls for balanced regulations on artificial intelligence

Photo: Carsten Koall/Getty Images.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai is calling for regulations on artificial intelligence, warning that the technology can bring both positive and negative consequences, AP reports.

Why it matters: Lawmakers are largely scrambling to play catch-up on AI regulation as the technology continues to grow. Pichai did not provide specific proposals, but did urge while speaking at the Bruegel European economic think tank Monday that "international alignment" between the United States and the European Union will help ensure AI is used primarily for good.

Go deeperArrowJan 20, 2020

2020's first wave of facial surveillance bills

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Ten states have introduced bills in 2020 that would regulate, ban or study facial recognition systems, according to the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology.

The big picture: There is no federal regulation on this tech, despite consensus for guardrails from its creators and bipartisan support for its restraint in Congress.

Go deeperArrowJan 18, 2020

Activists fight to keep face recognition off college campuses

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Fresh off a campaign to ban facial recognition software from being used at concerts, Fight for the Future is trying to rally students to persuade their schools to take a similarly strong stand against broad use of the powerful technology.

Why it matters: In the absence of legislation limiting its use, activists want to prevent facial recognition from becoming commonplace in public spaces.

Go deeperArrowJan 14, 2020

Cafe X shuts some of its robot coffee shops

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Cafe X, an operator of robotic coffee shops, has closed its three San Francisco locations and laid off their staffs, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Robots have been hailed as the future of food service, but as Cafe X and pizza-making robot startup Zume are finding, it's not so easy.

Go deeperArrowJan 7, 2020