In Phoenix, Ariz., cars are self-navigating the streets. In many homes, people are barking commands at tiny machines, with the machines responding. On our smartphones, apps can now recognize faces in photos and translate from one language to another.
Artificial intelligence is here — and it’s bringing new possibilities, while also raising questions. Do these gadgets and services really behave as advertised? How will they evolve in the years ahead? How quickly will they overhaul the way we live and change the way we do business?
The Times is exploring these matters this week at our annual New Work Summit, featuring technology executives, A.I. researchers, investors and others. The chief executive of Waymo, the self-driving car business spun out of Google; the director of an A.I. laboratory at Stanford University; and the head of Amazon’s consumer business are among the speakers.
We’ll report back on some key moments from the conference. In the meantime, here’s a rundown of some of our recent A.I. stories. — Cade Metz
As A.I. technology barrels ahead in Silicon Valley, it’s also starting to pick up steam as a political issue in Washington.
Over the weekend, I wrote about Andrew Yang, a former tech executive who has decided to run for president in 2020 as a Democrat on a “beware the robots” platform. He thinks that with innovations like self-driving cars and grocery stores without cashiers just around the corner, we’re about to move into a frightening new era of mass unemployment and social unrest.
So he’s proposing a universal basic income plan called the “Freedom Dividend,” which would give every American adult $1,000 a month to guarantee them a minimum standard of living while they retrain themselves for new kinds of work.
Mr. Yang’s campaign is a long shot, and there are significant hurdles to making universal basic income politically feasible. But the conversation about automation’s social and economic consequences is long overdue. Even if he doesn’t win the election, Mr. Yang may have hit on the next big political wedge issue. — Kevin Roose
Waymo just settled its closely watched lawsuit with Uber over stolen trade secrets. With the settlement, Waymo received a stake in Uber worth $245 million and Uber agreed that no Waymo technology would be used in its own autonomous vehicles.
But Waymo now faces a much bigger fight in autonomous vehicles, which we chronicle here. Uber is just one of many companies now competing with Waymo on driverless cars, and much of this competition is driven by ex-Waymo engineers. Waymo’s chief executive, John Krafcik, is set to take the stage at the New Work Summit on Monday night to discuss the company’s future, including the ride-hailing service it says will soon launch in Arizona. — Cade Metz
In modern artificial intelligence, data rules. A.I. software is only as smart as the data used to train it, as Steve Lohr recently wrote, and that means that some of the biases in the real world can seep into A.I.
If there are many more white men than black women in the system, for example, it will be worse at identifying the black women. That appears to be the case with some popular commercial facial recognition software.
Joy Buolamwini, a researcher at the M.I.T. Media Lab, found that the software can now tell if a white man in a photograph is male or female 99 percent of the time. But for darker skinned women, it is wrong nearly 35 percent of the time. — Joseph Plambeck