Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘amazon’ Category

Amazon’s AI Coalmine Canary

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Happy Thursday.

So Amazon has announced that it is going to spend $700M to retrain 100K of its workers (a third of its workforce) by 2025, and seems to be doing so as an acknowledgment partly due to the impact of technology and automation on jobs.

Plus, it’s just good, smart business.

Subheads directly from the Amazon press release:

Programs will help Amazonians from all backgrounds access training to move into highly skilled technical and non-technical roles across the company’s corporate offices, tech hubs, fulfillment centers, retail stores, and transportation network, or pursue career paths outside of Amazon

Based on a review of its workforce and analysis of U.S. hiring, Amazon’s fastest growing highly skilled jobs over the last five years include data mapping specialist, data scientist, solutions architect and business analyst, as well as logistics coordinator, process improvement manager and transportation specialist within our customer fulfillment network

Employee upskilling investment builds on Amazon’s $15 minimum wage and comprehensive benefits including medical insurance, 401k savings plan, and generous parental leave

I like BI’s headline: “Jeff Bezos just sent a clear signal that AI will remake American jobs.”

Deadend Jobs – Skills Retraining + Artificial Intelligence and/or Robotic Automation = Canary in the Coalmine.

Retrain, or become a Luddite.

Meanwhile, the French have passed a 3 percent digital services tax on sales in France for large Internet companies with over 25M Euros in French revenues. 

Expect U.S. retaliatory tariffs from Monsieur Trump, tout suite!

Next: Bird scooters are losing money hand over handlebars, some $100M in the first quarter, with revenue shrinking to about $15M. 

But hey, go ahead and continue stringing scooters across the downtown Austin landscape in a bid to drive up your next Series round.

You’re gonna need it if you only have $100M left in the scooter piggy bank!

Finally, I said to anyone who would listen in 1999 that one day, privacy would be considered a competitive differentiator. Well, I finally feel vindicated, and not dealing with privacy and data protection is finally carrying a hefty price that business can no longer ignore.

OneTrust, a company which builds tools to help companies navigate data protection and privacy policies both internally and with its customers, has raised $200M in a Series A and that values the company at $1.3B.

Billion, with a “B.”  That should buy lots of privacy.

Written by turbotodd

July 11, 2019 at 2:53 pm

Amazon’s Delivery Drone

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Amazon still delivers most of the stuff I order from them via truck and human.

But TechCrunch is reporting the company has a new delivery drone, and is indicating it will start making deliveries via drone in the coming months.

The drone is “chock-full of sensors and a suite of compute modules that run a variety of machine learning models to keep the drone safe.”

The drone safe? What about we customers??

I can’t wait for the first redneck video of some doofus shooting the Prime Air drone out of the sky with a .12 gauge.

FYI, the new drone can fly up to 15 miles and carry packages that weigh up to five pounds.

More deets:

There are four traditional airplane control surfaces and six rotors. That’s it. The autopilot, which evaluates all of the sensor data and which Amazon also developed in-house, gives the drone six degrees of freedom to maneuver to its destination. The angled box at the center of the drone, which houses most of the drone’s smarts and the package it delivers, doesn’t pivot. It sits rigidly within the aircraft.

It’s unclear how loud the drone will be. Kimchi would only say that it’s well within established safety standards and that the profile of the noise also matters. He likened it to the difference between hearing a dentist’s drill and classical music. Either way, though, the drone is likely loud enough that it’s hard to miss when it approaches your backyard.

Domino’s Pizza, your move!

Written by turbotodd

June 5, 2019 at 3:17 pm

Posted in 2019, amazon, artificial intelligence, drones

Tagged with ,

Boxed In

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Big news coming out of SCOTUS this morning: The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against Apple in case involving its App Store, allowing iPhone users to move forward with an antitrust suit against the company.

According to a report from CNBC, the iPhone users argue that Apple’s 30 percent commission on sales through the App Store was passed along to consumers, an unfair use of monopoly power.

Apple argued that only app developers, and not users, should be able to bring such a lawsuit:

“Apple’s line-drawing does not make a lot of sense, other than as a way to gerrymander Apple out of this and similar lawsuits,” [Justice] Kavanaugh wrote.

Shares of Apple, already battered by trade concerns, were down more than 5%, lagging the broader market.

The result of the iPhone users’ litigation could affect the way that Apple, as well as other companies that operate electronic marketplaces like Facebook, Amazon and Alphabet’s Google, structure their businesses. For Apple, hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties could hang on the outcome.

And if you’re worried about becoming boxed in by looming new automation technologies, you might want to steer clear of the Amazon warehouses. 

Reuters is reporting that Amazon is rolling out machines to automate a job held by thousands of its workers: boxing up customer orders.

The company started adding technology to a handful of warehouses in recent years, which scans goods coming down a conveyor belt and envelopes them seconds later in boxes custom-built for each item, two people who worked on the project told Reuters.

Amazon has considered installing two machines at dozens more warehouses, removing at least 24 roles at each one, these people said. These facilities typically employ more than 2,000 people.

That would amount to more than 1,300 cuts across 55 U.S. fulfillment centers for standard-sized inventory. Amazon would expect to recover the costs in under two years, at $1 million per machine plus operational expenses, they said.

A video shot by Reuters accompanying the story suggested the human workforce decline would come through attrition: Amazon would simply “refrain” from refilling packing roles over time, a job that already has huge turnover work for its 10-hour shifts.

On the man v. machine front, it sounds as though the machine boxes that box the boxes themselves will eventually beat the humans hands down.

My question is, will the boxing machines ever buy anything from the company store?  

Will Amazon give them a discount for being so efficient at their jobs??  A promotion??

Maybe a corner office on the warehouse floor??

Written by turbotodd

May 13, 2019 at 10:32 am

Hating Social Media, Loving Divorce in the Amazon

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Newsflash: Americans apparently have a love/hate relationship with social media.

According to the results of a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, they regard services such as Facebook to be divisive and a threat to privacy but continue to use them.

Across age groups and political ideologies, adults in the survey said they held a negative view of the effects of social media—even though 70% use such services at least once a day.

The results also suggest Americans are generally optimistic about the benefits that technology will bring to their lives and the economy, but they seem to struggle exactly what it is that policymakers and regulators should do to address some of the grievances people have about social media.

It’s Friday, my head hurts, The Masters starts next week, so I’m just going to think about puppies and golf balls.

But if you want more on the tech front, and the content wars specifically, get this: Apple Music has overtaken Spotify in U.S. paid subscribers.

In February, Apple Music had more than 28 million subscribers in February, while Spotify had 26 million. Does that bode well for Apple’s looming TV content play? I think it’s way too soon to tell, considering that nothingburger of an event last week in Cupertino, but it does at least seem to suggest that the Apple hardware penetration (iPhones, MacBooks, etc.) continues to be a benefit in reaching users with its services play.

The razors have to lift up the Apple razor blades or Apple’s dominance will inevitablye dwindle.

Who’s not dwindling? Ex-wife of Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie Bezos, who got 4 percent of the company in a stake worth roughly $36 billion, making her one of the world’s richest women.

Bezos keeps 75 percent of their Amazon stock and voting power over all the voting shares the couple own together.

The Bezos divorce settlement started the way the marriage ended, with a Tweet.

We hate social media until we love it again.

Written by turbotodd

April 5, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Posted in 2019, amazon, social media

Tagged with , , ,

AI Bored, Amazon HQed

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I continue to keep my eye on many things AI.

Last week, Google announced a new AI ethics board, but Vox is reporting that it is "already in trouble."

The board was founded to guide "responsible development of IA" at the company, writes Vox, and would have had eight members and met four times over the course of this year to consider concerns about Google’s AI program.

Just a week after it was announced, Google’s new AI ethics board is already in trouble.

The board, founded to guide “responsible development of AI” at Google, would have had eight members and met four times over the course of 2019 to consider concerns about Google’s AI program — everything from how AI can enable authoritarian states, how AI algorithms produce disparate outcomes, whether to work on military applications of AI, and more.

Apparently a Google employee outcry led to the requested removal of Kay Coles Hames, president of conservative think tank Heritage Foundation. Another was CEO of drone company Trumbull Unmanned, Dyan Gibbens. Privacy researcher Alssandro Acquisti has already announced on Twitter he wouldn’t serve.

Maybe they need a bot board instead?

Meanwhile, MIT is hitting "pause" on its relationships with Chinese tech firms Huawei and ZTE, following a review of international projects or partnership that pose an elevated risks, according to a report from CNN News.

"MIT is not accepting new engagements or renewing existing ones with Huawei and ZTE or their respective subsidiaries due to federal investigations regarding violations of sanction restrictions," Maria Zuber and Richard Lester, the university’s vice president for research and associate provost respectively, said in a letter to the school community on Wednesday.

The administrators also said that the university had determined that working with certain countries — particularly China, Russia and Saudi Arabia — "merit additional faculty and administrative review beyond the usual evaluations."

Any projects involving funding from people or entities from these countries, or MIT faculty or students doing work there, would face further review.

And if you’ve been watching the Amazon U.S. city 2nd headquarters saga, you’ll be interested to know that Geekwire is reporting that Amazon plans to relocate its entire Seattle-based worldwide operations team to Bellevue, Washington….by 2023. That would add thousands of employees to its new campus just across Lake Washington. This according to an internal email that Geekwire obtained.

Sources familiar with the plans said several thousand employees will be moving to Bellevue in the years ahead. Amazon confirmed the authenticity of the email obtained by GeekWire.

Amazon will start moving employees to Bellevue this month and will finish the migration by 2023. The company currently has 700 employees in Bellevue and more than 45,000 at its Seattle headquarters.Worldwide operations is one of the most critical teams at Amazon, the arm responsible for getting packages to customers’ doors. It oversees more than 175 operating fulfillment centers around the world and the 250,000 employees who work there. The team also manages Amazon’s thousands of delivery truck trailers and its fleet of 40 airplanes. New logistics initiatives, like Amazon’s “Delivery Service Partners” program, also fall under the worldwide operations purview. Amazon will start moving employees to Bellevue this month and will finish the migration by 2023. The company currently has 700 employees in Bellevue and more than 45,000 at its Seattle headquarters.

So the new winner of the great Amazon 2nd HQ shootout of 2019 is…the home of Microsoft??

Todd "Turbo" Watson
Twitter:@turbotodd
Blog: www.turbotodd.com
Email: toddhttp://about.me/toddwatson

Written by turbotodd

April 4, 2019 at 9:55 am

Posted in 2019, amazon, artificial intelligence

Tagged with , ,

Amazon Grows

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Happy Monday.

Before the weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon is planning to open dozens of grocery stores in several major US cities.

The stores would not be part of the Whole Foods market chain,  and while the company has already signed leases according to the story, there is no guarantee it will open the stores.

Remind you of a recent deal in Long Island City, New York?

Just coincidental that this new grocery brand comes as Amazon is also rolling out its cashierless Amazon Go stores, the ones that require very few humans but lots of cameras and algos?

I think I’ll still with Trader Joes…for now. 

Meanwhile, back in San Francisco the RSA security conference gets underway for its 2019 edition.  Should be lots to talk about!

IBM’s Security Intelligence blog offers a few tips and tricks for those of you attending. 

My own two cents: Wear very comfortable shoes, carry some layers to wear, and pack a small umbrella. 

Oh yeah, and don’t use the free wi-fi networks while you’re there. It’s a cyber security conference, duh.

Written by turbotodd

March 4, 2019 at 10:39 am

Posted in 2019, amazon

Tagged with , , ,

Hindi Commerce

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Happy Tuesday, and for those of you in these United States I hope you had a very happy and productive Labor Day holiday weekend.

For those of you who were not in these United States, I hope you enjoyed the break away from your peers and colleagues here in these United States.

Now on to some tech news… The New York Times is reporting that Amazon is making it’s local website and apps available in India’s most popular language, Hindi.

According to the article, users of the India site or app will be able to choose Hindi as their preferred language, much as American users can choose Spanish.

The Times writes that Amazon is already the number two player in India’s $33 billion e-commerce market and says it has about 150 million registered users. But with so many Hindi speakers, English simply was not going to get the job done.

The story also suggests that if the Hindi versions of its sites and apps are successful, Amazon plans to quickly at options to shop and other major Indian languages.

Namaste, Jeff Bezos.

Written by turbotodd

September 4, 2018 at 10:11 am

Posted in 2018, amazon, e-commerce, india

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