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AI Weekly: Walmart’s machine learning advantage

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Here’s this week’s newsletter: Last week, VentureBeat invited Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM, and other giants of AI into a big tent with brands like Coca-Cola, The New York Times, Tumi, and Walmart, as well as such promising startups as Bark.us, Mezi, Visabot, and Octane AI. The gathering was MB 2017, and the need for practical AI was on nearly everyone’s mind.

Walmart, for instance, is using machine learning to better serve its 140 million weekly shoppers and to make new services possible. Laurent Desegur, vice president of customer experience engineering at WalmartLabs, explained the role of data science to make possible so-called Pick-up Towers within stores, which allow customers to order and pay online for items and then retrieve them, skipping the checkout lines. Desegur also described a 20-store pilot of Scan and Go shopping, a self-serve experience.

Walmart’s brick and mortar innovation is very similar to the Amazon Go concept store, which combines computer vision, machine learning, and sensors to bypass the checkout process entirely.

Improved shopping was just one application of machine learning by Walmart. The retail giant also recently launched an associate delivery program to conquer the last mile problem. To accomplish this, Desegur had to build not just an Uber-like system to determine which associate should deliver to which customer, but he also had to layer in inventory management to make certain the desired products are available for delivery with the push of your thumb.

Read all the MB 2017 coverage here.

For AI coverage, send news tips to Blair Hanley Frank and Khari Johnson, and guest post submissions to John Brandon — and be sure to bookmark our AI Channel.

Thanks for reading,

Blaise Zerega

Editor in Chief

P.S. Please enjoy this video featuring Google’s DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, “Artificial Intelligence (AI) invents new knowledge and teaches human new theories.”

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