Amazon Eyes Low-Income Shoppers With PayCode Service

Amazon recently announced PayCode, a new pay-with-cash option for its online shoppers. The e-commerce giant’s service is the latest step in taking on low-price retail chains like Walmart. The move could help attract the 8+ million low-income households in the U.S. that do not presently have bank accounts, debit cards or credit cards. PayCode users can place an order on Amazon and then pay in cash within 24 hours at one of 15,000 Western Union locations. Amazon is also looking to expand its recently developed cashierless Go technology by bringing it to retailers such as movie theaters and airport shops. Continue reading Amazon Eyes Low-Income Shoppers With PayCode Service

Amazon Technology Chief Details Rise to Cloud Dominance

Amazon launched its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud-computing unit in 2006. AWS generated $8.4 billion in sales in the latest quarter, with operating income up 29 percent to $2.1 billion. Research firm Gartner reported that AWS’ $15.5 billion in annual cloud services is about half of total revenue for this sector last year. Amazon’s closest rival, Microsoft and its Azure cloud service, represents about 15 percent of cloud market sales. Amazon chief technology officer Werner Vogels described the company’s path to dominance. Continue reading Amazon Technology Chief Details Rise to Cloud Dominance

Capital One Hacker Stole Data From More Than 30 Entities

Former Amazon employee Paige Thompson, charged with hacking Capital One Financial records, illegally accessed terabytes of data from 30+ other companies and institutions, according to authorities. Thompson, arrested July 29, was accused of stealing 106 million Capital One records, considered to be one of the largest thefts of cloud-based data. Court documents reveal that Thompson stole 140,000 Social Security numbers, 80,000 bank account numbers, millions of credit card applications and one million Canadian social insurance numbers. Continue reading Capital One Hacker Stole Data From More Than 30 Entities

Amazon Revenue Strong, Record Profitability Streak Ends

After posting its best profits over the previous four quarters, Amazon broke its streak; its Q2 profit rose 3.6 percent from a year ago, to $2.63 billion, missing analysts’ predictions. Profitability got a hit from the increased costs of shipping, as Amazon struggled to make one-day shipping the standard for all its Prime members. Chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky said that “when the dust settles, we will regain our cost efficiency over time.” Revenue was a bright spot, however, with performance above analysts’ expectations. Continue reading Amazon Revenue Strong, Record Profitability Streak Ends

Amazon Enables Tailored Recommendations via AI Service

Amazon is launching a new service called Amazon Personalize in select regions of the U.S., Asia and Europe, with additional locations to be added. The service, first revealed at last year’s re:Invent conference, aims to personalize the customer experience by helping developers build apps, websites, email marketing and content management systems that provide product recommendations and personalized search results. “We are excited to share with AWS customers the expertise we’ve developed during two decades of using machine learning to deliver great experiences on Amazon.com,” said Swami Sivasubramanian, VP of machine learning. Continue reading Amazon Enables Tailored Recommendations via AI Service

Microsoft Continues Plan to Democratize Machine Learning

Ranging from no-code tools to hosted notebooks, Microsoft released new machine learning products and announced updates to existing products ahead of its Build developer conference. At the core of these releases and updates is Microsoft’s goal to democratize access to artificial intelligence amidst competition with other big players like Google and Amazon Web Services, as well as a number of highly specialized startups. In general, companies are looking for increasingly powerful tools to be more productive and build models quicker.

Continue reading Microsoft Continues Plan to Democratize Machine Learning

At $30 Million/Month, Apple Is Major User of Amazon Cloud

In January 2018, Apple earmarked $10 billion to build its own U.S.-based data centers in the next five years. In a December update, the company added that $4.5 billion of that would be spent in 2019. For now, however, Apple is on track to spend $30+ million per month on Amazon Web Services (AWS). The companies may be rivals, but Apple has come to depend on AWS as a way to deliver competitive online services. That’s become crucial, as sales of iPhones have slowed and the company has turned to online services to pick up the slack. Continue reading At $30 Million/Month, Apple Is Major User of Amazon Cloud

AWS Tool Aims to Simplify the Creation of AI-Powered Apps

Amazon introduced AWS Deep Learning Containers, a collection of Docker images preinstalled with preferred deep learning frameworks, with the aim of making it more seamless to get AI-enabled apps on Amazon Web Services. At AWS, general manager of deep learning Dr. Matt Wood noted that the company has “done all the hard work of building, compiling, and generating, configuring, optimizing all of these frameworks,” taking that burden off of app developers. The container images are all “preconfigured and validated by Amazon.” Continue reading AWS Tool Aims to Simplify the Creation of AI-Powered Apps

Amazon, National Science Foundation to Further AI Fairness

Amazon is teaming up with the National Science Foundation (NSF), pledging up to $10 million in research grants over the next three years to further fairness in artificial intelligence and machine learning. More specifically, the grants will target “explainability” as well as potential negative biases and effects, mitigation strategies for such effects, validation of fairness and inclusivity. The goal is to encourage “broadened acceptance” of AI, thus enabling the U.S. to make better progress on the technology’s evolution. Continue reading Amazon, National Science Foundation to Further AI Fairness

Amazon’s Gaming Clout Grows in Era of Multiplayer Games

Amazon is evolving into an indispensable player in the games industry, with AWS providing a cloud-based digital infrastructure for live streaming. Last year, Epic Games went “all in” for AWS, allowing its massively popular game “Fortnite” to achieve global scale. Amazon Game Tech, the company’s services collection that helps game studios get on their feet, has been a mainstay for companies like Square Enix and Zynga. Amazon also owns the game platform Twitch and has developed its own game engine, Lumberyard. Continue reading Amazon’s Gaming Clout Grows in Era of Multiplayer Games

Cloud Pioneers Amazon, Microsoft Dominate Enterprise IT

A report from market research firm ETR revealed Amazon and Microsoft as dominant in the enterprise information-technology market due to their early start in cloud computing. Over 800 chief information officers and high-level corporate executives ranked more than half of the top 30 products and services as those from the two tech giants. Those products included artificial intelligence, cloud infrastructure and software, data analytics, and robotic process automation as well as “other emerging digital tools.” Continue reading Cloud Pioneers Amazon, Microsoft Dominate Enterprise IT

Microsoft Advocates For Washington State AI Regulation Bill

Washington State has introduced a bill to regulate facial recognition software, and tech giant Microsoft is advocating for its passage, while e-commerce leader Amazon remains undecided. Amazon asked state senator Reuven Carlyle, who sponsored the bill, for clarification as well as a change to the requirement that AI software developers claiming the ability to identify faces must allow third parties to test it. Carlyle explained he would examine all submitted requests and introduce a revised version of the bill. Continue reading Microsoft Advocates For Washington State AI Regulation Bill

WorkLink From AWS Enables Secure Mobile Intranet Access

Amazon’s AWS cloud computing unit has announced its new WorkLink service that promises to provide workers with simple and secure mobile access to all of their companies’ intranet sites and web apps. Since most companies typically use virtual private networks or mobile device management software for such remote access, AWS wants to replace the often expensive and complex use of these approaches with simple one-click access that employees should find similar to basic Internet browsing on their various devices. Continue reading WorkLink From AWS Enables Secure Mobile Intranet Access

CES Panel: Where the Augmented Reality Experience Is Going

Augmented reality in 2018 was “interesting, with projections being exceeded,” said NorthSouth Studios’ Bill Newell, who moderated a panel on the topic. He asked what AR experience stood out this year. IBM’s Elizabeth Kiehner, who reported on the new partnership between IBM’s Watson and Unity, was enthused over Legos’ AR app. “But I am more interested in AR as it pertains to enterprise,” she said, enumerating breakthroughs in AR for factory workers and healthcare, including surgery and cancer treatment. Continue reading CES Panel: Where the Augmented Reality Experience Is Going

Amazon On Track to Be a Bigger Player in Online Advertising

Amazon is poised to be an advertising behemoth, even as it dominates in online retail, handling almost half of all online sales in the U.S. The company currently holds the No. 3 spot in online advertising, behind Google and Facebook, with a mere 4 percent of the market. But Amazon is on a hiring binge for its advertising division, and, according to eMarketer, is on track to double its ad revenue this year to $5.83 billion. One source of tension is the fact that Amazon’s own products compete with retailers on its site. Continue reading Amazon On Track to Be a Bigger Player in Online Advertising

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