If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
"…In many organizations, the human resource department is responsible for many strategic tasks from managing the hiring to [the] termination of employee[s], for example monitoring of employees' at all the levels, handling payroll, managing employee[s'] benefits and so on. To make this work easier[,] organizations across the world are investing in HR automation [to] [carry] out the best human capital decision[s]…" I know what you're thinking: "…my company's board of directors is too visually impaired to consider what kind of impact these new-flanged capabilities will have on the company to actually consider them-- let alone implement them…" but you would be wrong to think this way; because the change is not only already happening, but it is accelerating. While it is true that some companies have not fully considered implementing a complete, top-to-bottom HR automation strategy -- largely because such a thing is still too abstract a problem and a not-so-clear-opportunity right now -- news like Amazon's drive to automate hiring and onboarding for its hourly warehouse workers will not stay secret for long. Do not kid yourselves, while corporate boards are not known for being bastions of innovation and forward-thinking, they know it's possible -- even if they are unable to see its affect on the corporation's current business -- at least, not yet, anyway.
Politics are in the air, like that ominous reddish glow suffocating much of the West in recent weeks on account of all those tragic wild fires. This coming week we get our first presidential debate. A chance for Donald Trump and Joe Biden to shake hands and have a respectful, reasoned exchange of views on the future of the unfairly maligned Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act; the need to reform the Stored Communications Act; the wisdom of replicating Europe's General Data Privacy Regulation; the merits of taking antitrust action against Google for its manipulation of search results or against Amazon for its treatment of third-party sellers on its platform. Maybe we will even see the candidates reflect humbly on humanity's place in the universe, in light of the breaking news from Venus. The debate will probably be all tense, no future--maybe not as heated as a debate between 2016 Lindsey Graham and 2020 Lindsey Graham, but close.
It was reported that Venture Capital investments into AI related startups made a significant increase in 2018, jumping by 72% compared to 2017, with 466 startups funded from 533 in 2017. PWC moneytree report stated that that seed-stage deal activity in the US among AI-related companies rose to 28% in the fourth-quarter of 2018, compared to 24% in the three months prior, while expansion-stage deal activity jumped to 32%, from 23%. There will be an increasing international rivalry over the global leadership of AI. President Putin of Russia was quoted as saying that "the nation that leads in AI will be the ruler of the world". Billionaire Mark Cuban was reported in CNBC as stating that "the world's first trillionaire would be an AI entrepreneur".
Amazon's naked ambition to become part of everyone's daily lives was on full display this week at its annual hardware event. It announced a slew of new Alexa-powered devices, including a home surveillance drone, a suite of Ring-branded car alarm systems, and miscellany like an adorable little kids' Echo device. But it's clear Amazon's strategy has shifted, even if only for a product cycle, from going wide to going deep. Last year, Amazon baked its virtual assistant into any household device that could accommodate a chip. Its list of new widgets with Alexa seemed a mile long and included a menagerie of home goods, like lamps and microwaves.
The typical American is recorded by security cameras 238 times a week, according to a new report from Safety.com. That figure includes surveillance video taken at work, on the road, in stores and in the home. The study found that Americans are filmed 160 times while driving, as there are about an average of 20 cameras on a span of 29 miles. And the average employee has been spotted by surveillance cameras at 40 times a week. However, for those who frequently travel or work in highly patrolled areas the number of times they are captured on film skyrockets to more than 1,000 times a week.
Amazon is making Alexa smarter with natural turn-taking, having conversations with multiple people, natural language understanding, and the ability to be taught by customers. The first target is the smart home, but Alexa for Business is also likely to follow. Also: When is Prime Day 2020? The Alexa overhaul and artificial intelligence improvements were outlined as Amazon launched its latest batch of Echo devices. Amazon's new Echo devices are evolving to be more smart home edge computing devices.
I always know a new product is excellent when its makers describe it as "next-level." I hear you moan, on seeing the new, wondrous Ring Always Home Cam. Also: When is Prime Day 2020? Oh, how can you be such a killjoy? When Amazon's Ring describes it as "Next-Level Compact, Lightweight, Autonomously Flying Indoor Security Camera," surely you leap toward your ceiling and exclaim: "Finally, something from Amazon I actually want! A drone that flies around my living room!"
I actually had to double-check my calendar to make sure today wasn't April Fool's. Because watching the intro video of an indoor surveillance drone operated by Amazon seemed like just the sort of geeky joke you'd expect on April 1. But it isn't April Fools, and besides, Google has always been the one with the twisted sense of humor. Amazon has always been the one with the twisted sense of world domination. This was a serious press briefing.
As some of you might know, I'm a runner. On occasion I review sports watches, and outside of work I'm a certified marathon coach. So when it became clear Engadget wanted to round up the best wireless workout headphones, I raised my hand. And the timing feels particularly appropriate. Until now I was still using wired buds (old habits die hard), and it happened that every pair I owned was on the fritz.
If you're also tired of taking daily Zoom calls on your laptop, maybe you'd prefer to just turn on the TV, lay back, and learn or conduct business from the couch. Earlier this week, we wrote about a new video device for Microsoft Teams, but it's really large, at 85 inches, and really costly, at $21,199. Amazon is introducing a less pricey option later this year. "I just believe that your big, beautiful TV is a great place for communications and we're going to continue to lean in to make that a better experience well," said Marc Whitten, vice president of Amazon Entertainment Devices and Services. To drive the new device,you'll need the Fire TV Cube, a $119 accessory that's different from the Fire TV streaming stick units.