Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the technology and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this month.
AI All the Way
Online shopping giant Amazon is now using artificial intelligence to streamline its Christmas shopping and delivery processes, with the technology being described as ‘a critical, yet invisible force’ in its operations. Central to the process is the company’s Supply Chain Optimisation Technology (SCOT). This uses deep learning to predict how big the demand will be for the millions of products the company sells. The predictions will then help the company ensure it has the right stock levels.
AI is also used in fulfilment and delivery. In warehouses, AI-enabled robots, including Titan, which can lift over a tonne, are used to help inspect, sort and move goods. To assist with the enormous task of delivering all those goods to homes and businesses, daily delivery routes are now managed using more than 20 machine learning models. This helps ensure that next-day deliveries arrive on time and that delivery routes are efficient. At the same time, Amazon is also exploring how generative AI and language models could improve last-mile delivery, for example, by helping drivers understand customer notes and get to locations more effectively.
Christmas present deliveries in Finland are getting a 21st-century update with the help of a talking robot called HeRo. In a trial that runs to the end of December, a fleet of HeRos is being deployed to make automated deliveries to homes in parts of the capital, Helsinki, which don’t have a local post office collection centre. On arrival, it not only drops its packages off; it can also communicate with the recipient to ensure it has the right person.
Similar to robots being trialled in the suburbs of Leeds, HeRo is sustainably powered and able to navigate safely through the city, avoiding people, traffic and other obstacles that get in the way. Using GPS and the latest navigation technologies, the robot can offer one-hour delivery slots, saving householders from the need to stay at home all day waiting for items to arrive. Given the increase in deliveries over the run-up to Christmas, the hope is that the robots will also cut down on congestion and decrease emissions.
£100M Scam Warning
Banks and Trading Standards are warning UK shoppers that scams, especially those powered by artificial intelligence, could result in £100m being stolen over the Christmas period. Those particularly at risk, according to GCHQ, are people aged 25 to 34, who are being targeted with highly convincing fake emails, ads and websites created using AI. These sophisticated scams often use psychological tactics, such as reverse psychology, to gain people’s trust.
The most common methods used by fraudsters appear to be purchase scams, where customers are sold products that don’t exist; advance fee fraud and fake delivery text messages where scammers pretend to be delivery companies. Shoppers are advised to watch out for goods with unrealistically low prices, suspicious websites and shipping companies asking for delivery fees.
If you find Christmas shopping a bit of a drag, then Google might just have made things easier for you. Thanks to generative AI, all you have to do is tell Google Shopping what your friends are interested in, and it will find suggestions for you. What’s more, its Search Generative Experiences (SGE) can even create realistic images of what you are looking for simply based on textual descriptions.
As for finding that perfect Christmas party outfit, Google has a solution for that too, with its virtual try-on experience. Choose your item of clothing and you can see it being modelled for you. There are over forty models you can choose from each with different sizes and body shapes, so you can find one that is similar to you. Designed to make online shopping easier and more exciting, these new features are expected to boost the number of people using Google Shopping this Christmas and beyond.
Robot House at the University of Hertfordshire, which pioneers research into human-robot interaction, is letting its latest-generation robots take part in traditional seasonal activities to demonstrate how we might be celebrating Christmas in the future.
Best known for developing care robots that help with assisted living, Robot House researches how people react to living with robots and what the machines can do to help them in their daily lives. Usually, this involves the robots providing social, physical and cognitive assistance, for example, they can fetch items, answer doors, remind people to take medication and, with pet robots, even provide much-needed company. This Christmas, however, the robots are joining in Christmas activities like decorating the tree, helping people exchange presents, serving mulled wine and dancing to Christmas music.
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