Tech Giants Acquired 34 AI Startups in Q1 2017.


A total of 34 artificial intelligence startups were acquired in the first quarter of this year, more than twice the amount of activity in the year-ago quarter, according to the research firm CB Insights.

Tech giants seeking to reinforce their leads in artificial intelligence or make up for lost ground have been the most aggressive buyers. Google has acquired 11 AI startups since 2012, the most of any firm, followed by Apple, Facebook and Intel, respectively, according to CB Insights.

The first quarter also saw one of the largest deals to date as Ford Motor Company invested $1 billion in Argo AI, founded by former executives on self-driving teams at Google and Uber.

Startups are looking to go deep on applications of artificial intelligence to specific fields, such as health and retail, industry observers say, rather than compete directly with established companies.

“What you will see is very big players will build platform services, and startup communities will migrate more to applied intelligent apps,” said Matt McIlwain, managing director of Madrona Venture Group.

Healthcare startup Forward, for example, is using artificial intelligence to crunch data that can inform doctors’ recommendations.

“For people who really want to focus on core AI problems, it makes a lot of sense to be in bigger companies,” said Forward Chief Executive Officer Adrian Aoun, who previously worked at Google. “But for folks who really want to prove a new field, a new area, it makes more sense to be separate.”

Artificial intelligence companies that do remain independent field a steady stream of suitors: Matthew Zeiler, chief executive of Clarifai, which specializes in image and video recognition, said he has been approached about a dozen times by prospective acquirers since starting the company in late 2013.

ARM wants to boost AI performance by 50X over 5 years


ARM is unveiling its first Dynamiq processor designs today, and the company said that the family will boost artificial intelligence performance by more than 50 times over the next three to five years.

The new family aims to spread AI processing from the edge to the cloud. The processors include the ARM Cortex-A75, which delivers massive single-thread compute performance at the high end; the ARM Cortex-A55, a high-efficiency processor; and the ARM Mali-G72 graphics processor, which expands the possibilities for virtual reality, gaming, and machine learning on premium mobile devices, with 40 percent more graphics performance. ARM’s partners are expected to launch chips in 2018.

To better handle AI processing, ARM realized that it needs to make basic changes to the computing architecture, with faster, more efficient, and distributed intelligence between computing at the edge of the network (like in smartphones and laptops) and in the cloud-connected data centers, said Nandan Nayampally, vice president and general manager of the Compute Products Group at ARM, in a blog post.

That AI technology also needs to be secure, as recent survey data shows 85 percent of global consumers are concerned about securing AI technology, Nayampally said.

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Freight Companies Scramble to Reroute Goods in Wake of Harvey


Trucking fleets, railroads and shipping lines look for alternative routes as Tropical Storm Harvey disrupts a major transportation hub

Trucking fleets, railroads and shipping lines are rerouting cargo and setting up alternate supply lines as Tropical Storm Harvey promises to disrupt freight traffic across southeast Texas for days.

Seaports in Houston and Corpus Christi have been closed to most ships since before Harvey made landfall Friday, and rising waters from days of heavy rains and catastrophic flooding are threatening long stretches of highways and railroad tracks, bringing freight transportation in a major American hub to a virtual standstill.

The number of Houston-area trucking runs requested plunged 80% Sunday, according to the most recent data from DAT Solutions, an online load board. Union Pacific Corp. UNP +1.24% has halted all freight rail traffic bound for Houston and surrounding areas, while United Parcel Service Inc. UPS +1.50% has suspended freight service in Houston and Beaumont, Texas, and is offering limited service as far west as San Antonio. Two Maersk Line container ships remain anchored in the Gulf of Mexico, joining oil tankers and cruise ships waiting for Houston’s port to reopen.

The gridlock will likely reverberate beyond Texas, threatening to snarl international trade routes. Houston is a key consolidation point for imports of vehicles and appliances made in Mexico, and stores as far away as Denver bring in foreign-made goods via the city’s port.

Read more here...

10 Timeless Truths of Supply Chain


A good roundup of traits that make supply chain a good place to put more technology.

Change is a fact of life, and supply chain seems to be in a state of revolution these days, with technology in particular mixing things up. Some things, however, remain the same. Here are 10 truths that you can count on for the long run:

1. Supply chain is physical – Although this is not absolutely unique among business functions (R&D, for example, deals in materials), few businesspeople really grasp the possibilities and limits of matter. Marketing, sales, finance and IT tend to assume away things like melting points, cubic volumes, mold-flow rates and so on. Supply chain professionals must own the problem of making physical things happen, in volume, and at costs low enough to make profit.

2. Supply chain is quantitative – This is certainly true for finance and engineering, but no one else in business is as comfortable with serious analytical methods as supply chain. Even more challenging is quantitative analysis in supply chain, which often requires the creation of completely new algorithms based on squirrely data. Plus, the proof is always borne out in reality. There is no hiding from your mistakes.

3. Supply chain is the ultimate cross-functional role – For better or worse, supply chain is defined by its accountability for the flow of materials, money and time through the business. This means working with engineering on inbound materials, with marketing on product launch, with sales on order fulfilment, and with finance on scorekeeping for everything. The best among us are also adept at working with both suppliers and customers.

4. “S&OP is a journey” – This truism is so familiar that it’s nearly a cliché. Maintaining a credible basis for reconciling conflicts between sales guys promising the world, and finance guys clamping down on budgets, is indeed a journey. But it’s one with no end, so just keep going.

5. Perfection equals silence – It is an unfortunate reality of supply chain that the work tends to be noticed only when something goes wrong. Sales is quick to take credit for closing the big deal. Engineering and R&D get kudos for inventions and patents. Supply chain, meanwhile, gets a cursory thanks and tighter goals next time. Missing a shipment, being short on parts, or suffering a quality breakdown, however, makes big news. Excellence is a private affair.

6. Supply chain owns sustainability – Everyone likes to talk about social and environmental responsibility, and CSR reporting gets pretty glossy, but almost all real impact rolls straight up into supply chain. We buy the raw materials, turn on the big machines, burn the fuel, employ the labor and dispatch the trucks. It is innate in our culture to seek efficiency, so we’ve been thinking sustainably since long before it became fashionable.

7. We hate the name – “Supply chain” has a decidedly ho-hum ring to it. For years we’ve debated terminology with minimal success. Alternatives tend to be too broad (value chain), too clever (demand chain), or insufficiently descriptive (operations). Plus, since everyone wants something snazzier, we end up with dozens of different formal titles intended to mean Chief Supply Chain Officer. We crave the clarity and gravitas of titles like “CFO.”

8. Matrix management is a must – As an inherently cross-functional role, supply chain does not lend itself to command and control. Dotted-line reporting, center of excellence structures and other organizational design quirks are a fact of life in supply chain. This is probably why communication and influence are the top skill required for the job.

9. We need more women in supply chain – At entry level, women comprise a third of all supply chain practitioners. This thins out to around 5% at the C-level. For a function that demands so much collaboration, lateral thinking and practicality it is a shame how little diversity we have at the top. With luck, this truth will not be timeless.

10. Supply chain is never boring – This is a bit of semantic trickery, but I say it because true supply chain, which involves dynamic adjustment, cannot be repetitive. The paradox of supply chain is that we constantly try to remove variability even as we embrace change. If supply chain becomes boring it means you’ve found something – a process, task, job, or just about anything else – that can be automated, and it’s time to move on. The learning should never stop.

Legislation Introduced in House to Delay ELD Mandate Two Years


A bill has been filed in the U.S. House to delay the compliance date of the federal government’s electronic logging device two years, to December 2019. If enacted, carriers would have two additional years to adopt electronic logging devices.

The legislation was introduced Tuesday and referred to the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Texas Republican Rep. Brian Babin filed the ELD Extension Act of 2017. Babin’s introduction of the bill came a day after a House panel recommended that the U.S. DOT study whether a “full or targeted delay” of the mandate is needed. Both developments signal that efforts to engage Congress on the issue have gained traction. In a report issued Monday, members of the House cited the burden placed on smaller carriers, like owner-operators, and questions surrounding enforcement and “technological concerns” as reasons to delay the ELD mandate.

Worried About Uber Freight?

How do you fight a competitor who can afford to loose money on every load for several years and still have their shareholders happy? 

Uber doesn't need to disrupt all carriers. The big carriers, brokers, and fleet managers - they should be worried.

If you look Uber's, Lyft's , and Amazon's shareholder's willingness to accept medium-term losses in exchange for market share you quickly start to think about the dismal prospects of big carriers and brokers. Their shareholders won't tolerate 5 years loosing billions every year. So, it becomes a game of who can survive the longest while remaining solvent - Uber, Amazon and friends win that game.

Amazon has been putting people out of business for 20 years while either loosing money or barely being break-even. Insofar as the newcomers can offer better money to small fleets and owner-operators and they can lockout big logistics companies from that supply two things will happen:

1. Small carriers will be able to make more money (at least in the near term).

2. Incumbent providers will lose billions (which they don't have) trying to supply the needs of their most prized shippers, at a loss.

Article from CCJ:*|EMAIL_UID|*

Amazon Buying Whole Foods Sent Stocks Crashing Across the World for Food Retailers


Amazon: Whole Foods Plan Hints at Price Cuts, Automation

David Z. Morris

Jun 18, 2017

When Amazon completes its acquisition of the grocery chain Whole Foods, announced on Friday, the e-commerce giant plans to cut prices at the premium grocer while maintaining its reputation for high-quality boutique foods. The push for lower prices could be fueled by automation, staff reductions, and inventory changes.

The plans were first reported by Bloomberg and attributed to a source familiar with them. According to that person, Amazon also plans to add automated checkout systems at Whole Foods, which may include the technology under evaluation at the AmazonGo convenience store in Seattle.

That would mean fewer workers running checkout lanes. An Amazon representative quoted in the report denied that any layoffs or automation initiatives were planned for Whole Foods.

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How will Amazon reduce Whole Foods' legendary "Whole Paycheck" reputation? Its plans could also include inventory changes that would eliminate the most expensive items from shelves and introduce more private-label goods.

Whole Foods' reputation has become a major pain point for the grocer, which has steadily lost sales to lower-priced competition—including Amazon. In February, after six straight quarters of falling sales, Whole Foods closed nine stores. It has already been lowering prices and experimenting with a lower-priced store format with fewer employees, 365 by Whole Foods.

True or not, the rumor of job cuts and automation points to a potential sticking point in the pending acquisition. Whole Foods has been recognized as one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For every year since the list was created in 1998. It's described by employees as a workplace offering fair pay and a welcoming environment.

Amazon, on the other hand, has been described as having an intense workplace culture marked by infighting and high turnover among staffers. Work conditions in its warehouse-like fulfillment centers have been described as demanding and even dangerous. Those divergent approaches to labor could well clash when the acquisition closes.



Check is in the Mail. Still Using 19th Century Payment Technology?

That anyone would still use checks is just bizarre in this day and age. Would you still go to the western union telegraph office to send a message?

In the anatomy of a trucking business, if profitability is the central nervous system then cash flow is the lifeblood.

Declining profits may cause motor carriers or freight brokers to develop an abnormal heartbeat but when forces constrict cash flow the survival of a business is immediately at risk.

A variety of technology can be used to keep cash flow healthy. Some are designed to maintain tighter controls on the outflow, or expenses, to slow the bleeding. Other technologies can help accelerate the conversion of receivables to cash.

4 Day Driver Work Week in Japan.

Package delivery company looks to ease acute staff shortage

Faced with a severe shortage of truck drivers, major ground shipper Sagawa Express has rolled out four-day workweeks that bring five days' worth of pay, allowing workers to take on a second job.

The Kyoto-based company has already started recruiting full-time drivers into the program in Tokyo and neighboring Yamanashi Prefecture.

Under the plan, parcel delivery drivers in Tokyo will work 10 hours a day four days a week at a starting salary of 180,000 yen to 260,000 yen ($1,630 to $2,355) a month -- about the same as for five days of work.

But take-home pay is expected to be lower owing to fewer overtime hours. Sagawa currently employs roughly 30,000 full-time drivers including contract workers.

Sagawa will allow participating drivers to hold other jobs on their days off. The company expects that the new program will be welcomed by prospective entrepreneurs and those who need to help their family businesses, for example.

In Japan, four-day workweeks have been promoted by retailers and fast food providers such as Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing and KFC Holdings Japan, which operates Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants.

The Curious Case of the Disappearing Nuts

In California, millions of dollars' worth of almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are disappearing. Farmers are perplexed, the cops are confused, and the crooks are getting richer. We sent Peter Vigneron to the Central Valley to take a crack at the crimes.

At 11:22 a.m. on Thursday, June 20, 2013, an orange Freightliner tractor-trailer arrived at Crain Walnut Shelling in Los Molinos, California. The truck’s driver, a man in his mid-thirties wearing a gray T-shirt, introduced himself as Alex Hernandez. He said he was from K and G Transport Services, a company contracted to take a load of Crain’s walnuts to Bulk Barn Foods Limited, a Canadian food retailer ­located 2,600 miles away in Ontario. Hernandez had arrived before the pickup had been scheduled, which initially made Crain’s logistics director suspicious. But after double-checking the paperwork that he provided, she directed employees to load 630 cartons of walnuts, worth $85,000, into Hernandez’s trailer. 

At 12:06, Hernandez left Los Molinos and headed south through California’s Central Valley into Glenn County, where he picked up a second batch of walnuts intended for Bulk Barn from a processor called Carriere Family Farms. While leaving, Hernandez’s Freightliner got stuck in a field. He called a tow truck to pull it out, then drove off.

Blockchain, electronic BOLs and tracking would stop this problem immediately. 

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Truckers Start Accepting Monitoring by Insurance Companies


Customers agreeing to adopt sometimes-invasive technology to get their coverage renewed

Insurers have a message for America’s truckers: Let us monitor your every move or we might take away your coverage.

Behind the push are surging losses for many insurance companies as an improved economy has led to more-crowded roads and more accidents. Meanwhile, smartphones have proliferated, increasing distracted driving. Last year, the commercial auto-insurance industry lost an estimated $716 million before taxes on policies, as...

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This has been coming for a long time and I imagine it will pretty soon be universal. Some drivers will see premiums go down and others rise.

21 Industries Other Than Auto That Driverless Cars Could Turn Upside Down


It’s all but a certainty that autonomous or driverless vehicles will be widely used in the United States at some point over the next two decades...

Clearly, tech and auto companies stand to gain, but many other industries could face serious upheavals unless they are able to adapt to the many changes self-driving cars will bring to the market." 

1. Insurance

2. Auto Repair

3. Trucking

4. Hotels

5. Airlines

6. Auto Parts

7. Ride hailing companies

8. Public transit

9. Parking Garages

10. Fast food

11. Energy

12. Real estate

13. Media and entertainment

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Japan Gets Ready for Drones and Automated Trucks; AI Investment is Booming.

Japan to finalize strategy for drones, self-driving trucks on June 9: government sources.

Japan aims to finalize on June 9 plans to allow package delivery by drone sometime from 2020 and the commercialization of self-driving trucks by 2022, as it scrambles to breathe new life into its corporate sector, sources told Reuters.

The government also plans to encourage more usage of Big Data and artificial intelligence to help diagnose medical conditions, said several government sources, who declined to be identified because the plans have not yet been finalised.

“The priorities are improving life expectancy, revolutionizing transport, modernizing supply chains, improving infrastructure and using financial technology,” said one of the sources...
The move to drones and autonomous vehicles is urgent for Japan, because its workforce has shrunk dramatically enough to force companies to start scaling back operations.
In April, Japan’s biggest parcel shipper, Yamato Holdings Co, which handles delivery of one in every two packages, stunned consumers by saying it would cut delivery volumes and hike prices because it did not have enough workers."