Welcome back to the September 2021 Artificial Intelligence Conversation Snapshot! In September, AI landed #10 in the rankings, up one from Aug’21 (11, same as Jul’21). The topic registered a 15% increase in coverage volume from Aug’21 to Sep’21 (from 100,938 stories to 116,263). Year-over-year it grew in both volume (+46%, from 79,836 to 116,263) and rank (from #12 to #10).
The major narratives to come out of this month centered on funding and spending growth on AI projects and tech. An IDC forecast predicted that retail is set to overtake the banking and finance industry on AI spending. Globally, retail is expected to spend $9.36 billion more on AI this year, totaling to $11.8 billion, no doubt motivated by the increase in e-commerce shopping during the pandemic. Most of this money is going towards tech that can improve customer experiences (like fraud prevention, and customer support bots) as well as boost sales based on recommendation algorithms.
Speaking of recommendation algorithms, China drafted a proposal against this AI tool in an effort to curb against growing addiction to online products and services, as well as giving users more control in how their data is being used. Recommendation algorithms remain a controversial topic in terms of civil rights but are also foundational to many of China’s. (and the world’s) largest businesses, including Alibaba.
Continuing this thread on retail and AI, Kock Industries led an $85 million funding round of a self-driving truck company, Gatik. Gatik, already operating with 20 self-driving trucks, has agreements with Walmart and other companies for shipping goods. This is emblematic of how pandemic-related challenges have led to changing attitudes towards automation, particularly in the supply chain.
What does it all mean? For many years, AI critics have called out the technology and the industry for coming up with solutions for problems that don’t exist, claiming there’s too much hype and not enough utility. Retail is the latest industry to look at emerging artificial intelligence technologies as a solution for overwhelming increases in demand, traffic, and more. In the coming months and years, we’ll see other industries following suit as the way we live transforms.