Robots must be smarter if they're going to pack boxes in warehouses, scan inventory in stores, and even care for the elderly. The rise of machine learning in recent years is making that possible. Steady innovation has led to robots that can independently "learn" to navigate tight corridors and grasp delicate objects without crushing them. Some of the leading American and Japanese robotics companies and investors recently gathered in Menlo Park, Calif. to discuss artificial intelligence in robotics and its impact on business. But it may require some cooperation between the U.S. and an important overseas ally.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation in late July to create a temporary state commission that will examine how artificial intelligence impacts his state. In doing so, New York joined Vermont, Alabama, and Washington in establishing an A.I. task force that will examine the cutting-edge technology and then make recommendations about how it should be regulated. The groups vary in their mission, but the general message is the same: companies pushing A.I., the brains behind innovation like robotics and facial recognition software, can't necessarily be trusted to do what's in the best interest of state residents. Brandie Nonnecke, founding director of University of California's Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society Policy Lab, says that task forces could help keep state lawmakers up to date about the technology. The end result, she says, will be better-written bills that don't get stuck in legislative purgatory.
Traditional and new-school retailers alike are using AI and robotics to automate various parts of the retail chain, from manufacturing to last-mile delivery. Retail is under pressure to crack the AI code. After all, corporations in every industry are scrambling to adapt and integrate artificial intelligence into their products -- and retail is no exception. Learn how Walmart, Amazon, Sephora, Zara, and other retailers are using AI to reinvent the brick-and-mortar store. For traditional retail giants, this means entering the playing field with the likes of e-commerce behemoths Amazon and Alibaba, both of which are leveraging big data and powerful AI algorithms to transform the retail space. In addition to fierce competition, the need for a change in strategy is being underscored by the record rates at which many US retailers are shutting down. In 2017 alone, 21 retail chains applied for bankruptcy, including high-profile names like RadioShack, Toys R' Us, and Aerosoles.
Geek Plus says that this is the largest-ever funding round for a logistics robotics startup. The round, a Series B, was led by Warburg Pincus, with participation from other shareholders including Volcanics Venture and Vertex Ventures. The company is not disclosing its valuation but we have asked and will update as we learn more. Warburg Pincus led the startup's previous round of $60 million in 2017, and Geek Plus has raised around $217 million since being founded in 2015. Part of the reason for this large round is because the company says its on track for a big year, projecting to growth business five-fold, and it wants to capitalise on that growth both inside its own giant home market of Mainland China as well as further afield.
We analyzed which jobs are most -- and least -- at risk, given factors including tasks involved, the current commercial deployment of technology, patent activity, regulations, and more. Meanwhile, several big corporations have open sourced their AI software libraries in recent years -- another major accelerant for AI. Our time frame was the next 5-10 years, and the relative risk of automation was based on factors including tasks involved, current commercial deployment of technology, patent activity, investment activity, technological challenges, and regulations. Google Ventures and Khosla Ventures recently funded burger-flipping robot Mometum Machines (funding and patents below).