Eye on A.I.— Introducing Fortune’s New Brainstorm A.I. Conference

May 21, 2019, 1:23 PM UTC

Artificial intelligence promises to revolutionize business by improving factory robots, filling out back-office paperwork, and analyzing data to uncover new ways to make money. But despite these advances, most companies haven’t incorporated A.I. into their operations because it’s either too complicated, too expensive, or too early.

With that in mind, Fortune is pleased to announce our newest conference, Brainstorm A.I., in Boston on April 27-28, 2020. Attendees will hear from corporate leaders and A.I. experts about topics like A.I.’s impact on industries such as finance and manufacturing, the legal considerations in using the technology, and the many lessons learned from companies that are already using A.I.

Sure, A.I. comes with some big question marks: Is it reliable enough? Will it steal jobs? But it also opens the door to making companies more efficient and helping them stay ahead of the competition.

Attendees will get a practical introduction to what A.I can do for them along with an understanding of key A.I.-related technology like neural networks (software that learns from data). They’ll also hear about A.I.’s sci-fi uses such as in robots and listen to A.I. pioneers predict how the technology will play an even more important role in the future of business.

If you’re interested in attending Brainstorm A.I., please apply for an invitation here.

Jonathan Vanian

Sign up for Eye on A.I.

Story updated with new conference date.


Is gift wrapping next? Amazon is testing technology in its warehouses that scans items and then automatically packs them in custom-built boxes, Reuters reported. Italian company CMC Srl created the box-packing machines, which Reuters said can “crank out 600 to 700 boxes per hour, or four to five times the rate of a human packer.”

A.I. can’t solve all of Facebook’s problems. Facebook chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer gave several emotional interviews to The New York Times in which the executive described the company’s uphill battle using A.I. to automatically remove controversial content from its service like the recent New Zealand shooter footage. The report explains that “every time Mr. Schroepfer and his more than 150 engineering specialists create A.I. solutions that flag and squelch noxious material, new and dubious posts that the A.I. systems have never seen before pop up — and are thus not caught.”

Facial recognition is a big business. Chinese startup Megvii, which built the popular Face++ facial recognition technology, has landed $750 million in funding from investors including the Bank of China Group Investment and Macquarie Group, among others. The startup, founded by graduates of China’s prestigious Tsinghua University, competes against high-profile Chinese facial-recognition startup SenseTime.

It’s not exactly a self-driving car, but… Ford showed off its new autonomous robot named “Survival” that helps deliver spare parts and welding materials to workers in the company’s factories in Europe. The auto giant claims that the "robot does not replace employees but can save up to 40-employee hours every day by taking over this role, allowing operators to use their time on more complex tasks."


Companies should encourage their data scientists to teach and train other employees across all departments in data-crunching skills, writes Data Quality Solutions president Thomas C. Redman in the Harvard Business Review. “Everyone benefits when they use a bit more data science in their jobs, but most people don’t have the needed skills,” he writes. “Your data scientists are uniquely positioned to deliver that training and coach people along.”


Data management startup Rubrik has hired Vinod Marur to be senior vice president of engineering. Marur was previously a vice president of engineering for Google.

Belmont Technology has picked Alan Cohen to be the Houston startup’s executive advisor of industry solutions. Cohen’s career spans 35 years in the oil-and-gas industry, including working on machine learning and research and development for Shell.

Incedo, a data analytics and consulting firm, hired Roger Castillo as chief technology officer. Castillo was previously a senior director of engineering for Groupon overseeing search and machine learning infrastructure.


A.I.-powered wireless networks. Researchers from the Hangzhou Research Center, Huawei Technologies, and the Ottawa Research Center published a paper about using reinforcement learning—in which computers learn by trial-and error—to improve cellular networks. The paper describes how reinforcement learning could assist (not replace) an existing wireless technology known as a “scheduler” in distributing certain radio resources in a wireless network.

A.I. goes Jimi Hendrix. Researchers from the Centre for Digital Music and Queen Mary University of London published a paper about using deep learning to create more realistic-sounding digital effects for music. In the past, musicians and producers have used audio processors with analog circuitry to create certain effects, like the pulsating “tremolo” sound or the sci-fi “phaser” effect. Using deep-learning techniques could help researchers create digital sound effects that better replicate the subtle nuances of sounds created by analog circuitry that many musicians favor.



Why A.I. Just Might Save Your Job – By Munir Mandviwalla and Niraj Patel

Inside Google’s Civil War – By Beth Kowitt

How a Boston Startup Could Revolutionize Weather Forecasting – By Aaron Pressman


Not so fast. Robotics expert Rodney Brooks believes that artificial general intelligence (AGI), in which computers are as smart and capable as humans, is not going to happen for a long time, despite other A.I. specialists saying otherwise. As evidence, Brooks points to self-driving cars, which a number of experts are increasingly predicting to be decades away from being widely used by the public. If it’s going to take decades to perfect autonomous vehicles, it will likely take even longer to develop AGI, he explains.

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