Mar 1, 2017

Why AI is all the rage right now

Kim Hart, author of Cities

Tech companies are racing to announce new products, research labs and acquisitions in the AI race. Another sign of the the acceleration of the business world's embrace of all things AI is captured by this Bloomberg chart showing the sharp spike of companies mentioning the technology in their earnings calls.

Business-Focus on Artificial Intelligence Rising: {Analysis on Terminal https://t.co/BoEggN4PY4 } pic.twitter.com/MFm4nVMUBM— Michael McDonough (@M_McDonough) February 28, 2017

Latest examples: Just in the past few days, companies have made AI-driven announcements, such as Pinterest launching a research lab focusing on the technology, and Facebook harnessing AI tools to help prevent suicides on its Live platform. Artificial intelligence is reshaping online retailers' shopping tools. Amazon, Google and Apple are competing to make the best AI-powered personal assistants and they're all buying AI companies to boost their capabilities. Of course, AI is the technology behind autonomous cars being developed by tech companies and car makers across the board.

Why is it taking off? Sandhya Venkatachalam, a general partner at Centerview Capital, laid out these factors in a Forbes column:

  • All devices are connected: Sensors are being put in to everything, turning buildings, machines, homes and clothes into mini-devices able to send data and receive instructions.
  • Computing is cheaper: That means there'll be a processor in everything, and it will be possible to string cheap processors together to get computing scale needed to solve complicated problems "that were unthinkable even a few years ago."
  • Data is super valuable: Connected devices are all generating data all day long, and all that data helps machines learn quickly.
  • Machine learning advances: This is how algorithms discover new patterns in data so machines can predict future outcomes. New machine learning models are better able to take advantage of all the new data being generated.

Go deeper

Unemployment rate falls to 13.3% in May

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May, with 2.5 million jobs gained, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The far better-than-expected numbers show a surprising improvement in the job market, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The difficulty of calculating the real unemployment rate

Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Note: Initial traditional state claims from the weeks of May 23 and 30, continuing traditional claims from May 23. Initial PUA claims from May 16, 23, and 30, continuing PUA and other programs from May 16; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The shocking May jobs report — with a decline in the unemployment rate to 13.3% and more than 2 million jobs added — destroyed expectations of a much worse economic picture.

Why it matters: Traditional economic reports have failed to keep up with the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic and have made it nearly impossible for researchers to determine the state of the U.S. labor market or the economy.

2 hours ago - Sports

How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The NBA's Board of Governors approved Thursday the league's 22-team plan to resume play at Walt Disney World — a plan that also includes tentative dates for both this season and next.

Why it matters: The league's proposed trip to Disney World not only impacts this season but could have a domino effect that impacts seasons in the future — and could permanently change what time of year the NBA plays its games.