AI Wars

Fighting the Disruptors. Brick-and-mortar retailers and manufacturers are fighting back against the tech giants by investing in AI themselves. Tech giants themselves have and are continuing to invest heavily in AI.

Want a coffee while you shop? A glass of wine? Those are just few of the gimmicks being rolled out by retailers as they fight to boost store traffic -- and ensure their survival in the Amazon era, reports Times of India. Stores are testing artificial intelligence programs to guide shoppers through their aisles, and swipe-right, swipe-left games, that borrow from dating apps to offer them personalized pickings. Others have added coffee shops, restaurants and even alcohol in an attempt to drag consumers away from their laptops and back in the dressing room. "It has to be a better experience" and not just "a simple warehouse of goods," said Chris Donnelly, managing director at Accenture Strategy, a business consultancy. "There's got to be more of an emotional, experiential connection."

The new tech and add-on perks look set to become even more critical following another bad holiday shopping season that has sharpened focus on the over-sized US retail footprint. Experts predict some brick-and-mortar stores will survive the period of reckoning, but there will be fewer of them, and the survivors will be more customer-friendly. A recent Accenture report predicted the next decade will be "the golden age of the consumer," offering a "growing array of products and services, often personalized to their specific needs and wants." But with that comes disruption and Accenture warned of a painful shakeout ahead as old-fashioned malls close and jobs are lost.

Ford Motor Co. is investing $1 billion over the next five years in artificial intelligence startup Argo AI to help build the brains of its robot cars, reports Times of India. The Pittsburgh company, founded last year, specializes in robotics and virtual driver systems. It will compliment Ford's autonomous vehicle team that's preparing to market a fully self-driving car in 2021. Argo was founded by Bryan Salesky, formerly of Google , and Peter Rander, formerly of Uber. Both are alumni of the Carnegie Mellon National Robotics Engineering Center and left their respective companies late last year to form Argo AI. "When talent like that comes up, you don't ignore that availability," said Raj Nair, Ford's product chief and chief technical officer. "This really increases the robustness of our ability to deliver this vehicle in 2021."

As part of the investment, Ford will become a majority stakeholder in Argo. Mr. Nair and John Casesa, Ford's group vice president of global strategy, will sit on Argo's five-person board. By the end of this year, Argo will have offices in southeastern Michigan and California, according to Ford, along with its Pittsburgh headquarters. It will employ more than 200 workers at the three sites. A yet-to-be-determined amount of Ford employees will transition to working for Argo, executives said.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

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