ai
This Company Is Betting the Future Is Personal AI Avatars, So It Made Me One

In January 2019, when China Central Television, the largest broadcast network in the most populous nation in the world, aired a special to celebrate the Lunar New Year, the hosts welcomed four life-sized “personal artificial intelligences” to share the stage with them. Called PAIs, they were three-dimensional holographic replicas of the presenters that moved, spoke, and sang to the delight of the cheering live audience. The program was viewed some 1.8 billion times. One of the most-watched TV shows in the world had been hosted by AI avatars. Read More >>

artificial intelligence
The Next Evolution of Online Shopping Is Letting a Bot Buy You Underwear

Online retailers are engaged in a constant, all-consuming quest to make the process of buying stuff ever faster and more efficient and to remove as many barriers between you and the final click-confirmed purchase as possible. Amazon has experimented with IRL ‘dash’ buttons that automatically order you more washing powder or nappies. Smaller retailers like Blue Bottle have pushed subscription models that let you elect to have your coffee delivered monthly. Read More >>

amazon
Fully Automated Warehouses Are a Decade Away, Amazon Says

Amazon recently came under fire when the Verge revealed it used a system that automatically determines the productivity levels of its warehouse workforce, and terminates laggards if they’re too slow to move packages. It was yet another sign that automation was taking over at the retail giant, and a particularly ominous one at that. Read More >>

automation
Applying for Your Next Job May Be an Automated Nightmare

If you think looking for a job is already daunting, anxiety-riddled, and unpleasant, just wait until the algorithms take over the hiring process. When they do, a newfangled “digital recruiter” like VCV, which just received $1.7 million in early investment, hopes it will look something like this: Read More >>

amazon
Amazon Is Aggressively Pursuing Big Oil as It Stalls Out on Clean Energy

In 2014, Amazon announced that it would power its rapidly expanding fleet of data centres with 100 per cent renewable energy. Apple, Facebook, and Google made similar pledges two years before that, and pressure from consumers and environmental groups drove Amazon to follow suit. For the next two years, the tech giant made admirable strides toward achieving its goal, bankrolling large solar plants and wind farms. Then, it stopped. Read More >>

amazon
6,000 Amazon Employees, Including a VP and Directors, Now Call on Jeff Bezos to Stop Automating Oil Extraction

On Monday, a group of Amazon employees began circulating an open letter that calls on CEO Jeff Bezos and the board of directors to adopt a companywide plan to address climate change. By Wednesday, over 3,500 Amazoners had signed on. By Friday, that number had surpassed 6,000 – meaning a number equivalent to about 1/10th of the company’s entire corporate workforce had publicly added their names. And those names are still rolling in. Read More >>

automation
With 1.5 Million UK Workers Slated to Lose Their Jobs to Automation, Calls for a Shorter Work Week Intensify

On Monday, the UK’s Office of Data and Statistics released a report that found 1.5 million of the nation’s workers are at “high risk” of losing their jobs to automation. “In 2017, out of the 19.9 million jobs analysed in England, 7.4% people were employed in jobs at high risk of automation,” the report notes. Women and part-time workers are most vulnerable. Read More >>

technology
Aviation Experts Have Predicted Automation Will Lead to Disasters Like the Boeing Max Crashes for 15 Years

The two tragic crashes of Boeing’s best-selling 737 Max planes increasingly look to be caused in part by a malfunctioning automated system—and the pilots’ lack of training around how to deal with it—that was designed to keep the aircraft from stalling out. The final reports aren’t in yet, but the similarities between the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that together killed 346 people, and the log of complaints from other pilots about the system, all point to trouble with the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. Read More >>

shopping
Why Self-Checkout is and Has Always Been the Worst

Automation is often presented as an inexorably advancing force, whether it’s ushering in a threat to jobs or a promise of increased leisure or larger profits. We’re made to imagine the robots rising, increasingly mechanised systems of production, more streamlined modes of everyday living. But the truth is that automation technology and automated systems very often fail. And even when they do, they nonetheless frequently wind up stranded in our lives. Read More >>

automation
Automation is Coming for the Oil Jobs, Too

When pundits, politicians, or advocates have talked about the need to reduce fossil fuel production to combat climate change, one of the most common rejoinders has been to appeal to that most central of American concerns – it creates a lot of jobs. Oil industry backers are often touting the notion that it creates lots of decent-paying jobs. It’s also why Trump loves coal; these are generally perceived as very solid and very American jobs. Read More >>

artificial intelligence
PepsiCo Is ‘Relentless Automating’ Its Workforce and It’s Even More Dystopian Than It Sounds

Yesterday morning, news went viral that PepsiCo was spending $2.5 billion (£1.9 billion) on a plan to restructure the company that involved laying off an untold number of its workers. It was probably the phrase “relentlessly automating,” which Business Insider threw in the headline, that did the trick. Pepsi’s new CEO, Ramon Laguarta had said in an earnings call last week that Pepsi was already “relentlessly automating and merging the best of our optimised business models with the best new thinking and technologies.” Read More >>

technology
How Google, Microsoft, and Big Tech Are Automating the Climate Crisis

In a deal that made few ripples outside the energy industry, two very large but relatively obscure American companies, Rockwell Automation and Schlumberger Limited, announced a joint venture called Sensia in the US state of Texas. The new company will “sell equipment and services to advance digital technology and automation in the oilfield,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Yet the partnership has ramifications far beyond the Texas energy corridor: It’s part of a growing trend that sees major tech companies teaming with oil giants to use automation, AI, and big data services to enhance oil exploration, extraction, and production. Read More >>

artificial intelligence
Will Tech Workers Rise Up Around Automation, Too?

Over the last year or two, a number of stories have documented both an ascendent drive for representation in the workplace to a growing class consciousness, inspired by labour strikes in other industries and injustices in their own ranks. As such, it occurs to me that the time might be ripe for tech workers to consider how to collectively harness, and maybe organise around, automation for their mutual benefit. Read More >>

work
The Case for an Automation-Powered 4-Day Work Week

If the robots are indeed taking our jobs, shouldn’t we all probably be working less? A movement is picking up momentum in the UK based on that very reasonable logic. On Thursday, a proposal backed by eminent British progressives like Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell is making the call to transition to a four-day workweek by 2025. As the proposal’s title makes clear, it’s both “a radical and pragmatic proposal.” Read More >>

automation
This Automation Platform Helped Eliminate 40,000 Jobs, and Now It’s Available to Companies Everywhere

Over the last five years, the global management consulting company Accenture has developed proprietary automation software called the SynOps platform that it says has helped it cut 40,000 jobs within the company. Read More >>