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'We deserve more': an Amazon warehouse's high-stakes union drive

The Guardian

Darryl Richardson was delighted when he landed a job as a "picker" at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. "I thought, 'Wow, I'm going to work for Amazon, work for the richest man around," he said. "I thought it would be a nice facility that would treat you right." Richardson, a sturdily built 51-year-old with a short, charcoal beard, took a job at the gargantuan warehouse after the auto parts plant where he worked for nine years closed. Now he is strongly supporting the ambitious effort to unionize its 5,800 workers because, he says, the job is so demanding and working for Amazon has fallen far below his expectations. Last August, five months after the warehouse opened, Richardson began pushing for a union in what is not only the first effort to organize an entire Amazon warehouse in the United States, but also the biggest private-sector union drive in the south in years. "I thought the opportunities for moving up would be better. I thought safety at the plant would be better," Richardson said. "And when it comes to letting people go for no reason – job security – I thought it would be different."


Who Is Andy Jassy, the Amazon Exec Taking Over Jeff Bezos' Job?

Slate

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced on Tuesday that he will step down as CEO later this year and become executive chairman of the company's board. He described the move in a letter to employees as an opportunity for him to focus on "new products and early initiatives" and his various pet projects like his space-flight company Blue Origin and the Washington Post. In Bezo's stead, longtime Amazon executive Andy Jassy will become the new CEO. So, who exactly is that guy? Jassy joined Amazon in 1997, three years after its founding.


Inside the mind of Jeff Bezos

The Guardian

The first thing I ever bought on Amazon was an edutainment DVD for babies. I don't recall making the purchase, but the data is unequivocal on this point: on 14 November 2004, I bought Baby Einstein: Baby Noah – Animal Expedition for the sum of £7.85. My nearest guess is that I got it as a Christmas present for my nephew, who would at that point have been one year old, and at the very peak of his interest in finger-puppet animals who cavort to xylophone arrangements of Beethoven. This was swiftly followed by three more DVD purchases I have no memory of making. Strangely, I bought nothing at all from Amazon the following year, and then, in 2006, I embarked on a PhD and started ramping up my acquisition of the sort of books that were not easily to be found in brick-and-mortar establishments. Everything ever published by the American novelist Nicholson Baker. I know these things because I recently spent a desultory morning clicking through all 16 years of my Amazon purchase history. Seeing all those hundreds of items bought and delivered, many of them long since forgotten, was a vaguely melancholy experience. I experienced an estranged recognition, as if reading an avant-garde biography of myself, ghost-written by an algorithm. From the bare facts of the things I once bought, I began to reconstruct where I was in life, and what I was doing at the time, and what I was (or wanted to be) interested in. And yet an essential mystery endured.


Amazon axes staff at Prime Air drone project, launches talks with external manufacturers

ZDNet

Amazon has laid off "dozens" of employees working on the firm's drone project while also seeking out manufacturing deals with third-parties. The Financial Times reported on Thursday that the e-commerce giant is axing staff involved in the Prime Air drone program's research, development, and manufacturing units. According to sources close to the matter, Amazon is still "years away" from the project properly lifting off the ground. See also: Amazon's Prime Air drone delivery system earns key FAA certification First revealed in 2013, Amazon Prime Air aims to use octocopter drones to deliver small parcels ordered through the Amazon e-commerce platform in as little as 30 minutes. While the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recently granted Amazon permission to begin testing customer drone deliveries in the US -- four years after the company agreed to a partnership with the UK government to "explore the steps needed to make the delivery of parcels by small drones a reality" -- it seems a shake-up is in order.


Artificial Intelligence: Research Impact on Key Industries; the Upper-Rhine Artificial Intelligence Symposium (UR-AI 2020)

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The TriRhenaTech alliance presents a collection of accepted papers of the cancelled tri-national 'Upper-Rhine Artificial Inteeligence Symposium' planned for 13th May 2020 in Karlsruhe. The TriRhenaTech alliance is a network of universities in the Upper-Rhine Trinational Metropolitan Region comprising of the German universities of applied sciences in Furtwangen, Kaiserslautern, Karlsruhe, and Offenburg, the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University Loerrach, the French university network Alsace Tech (comprised of 14 'grandes \'ecoles' in the fields of engineering, architecture and management) and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland. The alliance's common goal is to reinforce the transfer of knowledge, research, and technology, as well as the cross-border mobility of students.


Machine Knowledge: Creation and Curation of Comprehensive Knowledge Bases

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Equipping machines with comprehensive knowledge of the world's entities and their relationships has been a long-standing goal of AI. Over the last decade, large-scale knowledge bases, also known as knowledge graphs, have been automatically constructed from web contents and text sources, and have become a key asset for search engines. This machine knowledge can be harnessed to semantically interpret textual phrases in news, social media and web tables, and contributes to question answering, natural language processing and data analytics. This article surveys fundamental concepts and practical methods for creating and curating large knowledge bases. It covers models and methods for discovering and canonicalizing entities and their semantic types and organizing them into clean taxonomies. On top of this, the article discusses the automatic extraction of entity-centric properties. To support the long-term life-cycle and the quality assurance of machine knowledge, the article presents methods for constructing open schemas and for knowledge curation. Case studies on academic projects and industrial knowledge graphs complement the survey of concepts and methods.


Trump approves TikTok deal with Oracle and Walmart 'in concept'

Engadget

TikTok appears to have avoided a US ban at the last minute... probably. President Trump has agreed to a deal "in concept" (via CNBC) that theoretically allays US security issues while letting it operate in the country. True to earlier discussions, Oracle and Walmart would claim a 20% investment stake in a newly formed TikTok Global company that will run the social video service's business in the US and "most of the users" worldwide. Oracle would become TikTok's "secure cloud provider" and hold on to American data, while Walmart would wield its e-commerce and advertising technology. The deal will also see TikTok Global pay over $5 billion in "new tax dollars" to the US Treasury, and join with Oracle, Walmart and investors like Coatue and Sequoia to launch an AI-powered educational video curriculum. The program would teach kids basics like math, reading and science, as well as more advanced subjects like computer engineering.


Amazon's Prime Air drone delivery service receives FAA approval

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Amazon customers in the U.S. could soon have their deliveries completed by an unmanned drone. The Federal Aviation Administration has approved Amazon's Prime Air service, which will use drones to deliver packages. The FAA issued a "Part 135 air carrier certificate using unmanned aircraft systems" to Amazon on Saturday, the agency confirmed in a statement to USA TODAY. Similar certificates have been issued to Wing Aviation, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet, and UPS Flight Forward. In a statement, David Carbon, vice president of Prime Air said the company will continue working on their technology to integrate delivery drones into the airspace.


Amazon Prime Air lands FAA approval for drone deliveries

#artificialintelligence

Amazon has been testing drones for delivering some small packages. Amazon Prime Air has cleared a regulatory hurdle, moving the online retail giant one step closer to dropping packages off at your doorstep with drones. The US Federal Aviation Administration on Saturday issued Amazon Prime Air a "Part 135 air carrier certificate," allowing it to begin commercial drone deliveries in the US. "Amazon Prime Air's concept uses autonomous UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) to safely and efficiently deliver packages to customers," said a spokesperson for the FAA on Monday. "The FAA supports innovation that is beneficial to the public, especially during a health or weather-related crisis."


Amazon's Prime Air can officially begin drone delivery trials in the US

Engadget

As of today, Amazon is officially an "air carrier." The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted Amazon Prime Air the designation, which allows Amazon to begin its first commercial delivery trials in the US, Bloomberg reports. The company will use the hexagon-shaped next-gen hybrid drone it showed off last year. Amazon has not revealed when or where it will begin its commercial delivery trials, but as Bloomberg points out, it does have test sites in the Northwest and in the nearby Vancouver area. Amazon has also tested drones in the UK.