Tech Bosses Weigh the Costs and Challenges of A.I.: CEO Daily

Good morning.

A.I. was a top topic at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech in Aspen on Tuesday, with executives both highlighting the seismic opportunities and also identifying issues that are slowing its adoption. Intel CEO Bob Swan was on hand, and I had the opportunity to moderate a fascinating off-the-record lunch conversation with him and a dozen other executives that pinpointed some of the key issues, which I summarized with the four Cs below.

Connectivity. Adoption of 5G will be a game-changer for A.I., making it easier to store and quickly recover massive amounts of data in the cloud.  Land O’ Lakes CEO Beth Ford told the Brainstorm crowd earlier in the day that this is particularly an issue in agriculture, where as many as 30% of farmers don’t have access to broadband.

Cost. Getting a robust data infrastructure in place can be costly, and the payback is often three to five years down the road, discouraging adoption among companies focused on the short term.

Culture. Creating a company culture that focuses on data is no simple task, but it’s critical to the success of the transformation.

Creativity. Our survey of Fortune 500 CEOs found 69% are focused on using data and A.I. to reduce business process costs . . . not to create new value for customers. That won’t lead to a new industrial revolution. Corporate leaders will have to get far more creative in rethinking their companies to unlock the full value of new technologies.

Also on stage yesterday: Intuit CEO Sasan Goodarzi, PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejada, and Quibi CEO Meg Whitman and her co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, an odd couple who have teamed up to create a new short-form video platform and who provided the entertainment for the end of the day.

When Fortune editor Andrew Nusca asked a provocative question and Whitman tried to give a diplomatic answer, Katzenberg jumped in with a feisty attack on Nusca. “It’s a duel, Meg, not an engagement!” He shouted.  Said Whitman:  “We see almost everything differently . . . Our superpower is we are completely different.”

On the agenda for Brainstorm’s final day: Postmates’ Bastian Lehmann, ConsenSys’s Joseph Lubin, and Steve Mollenkopf, CEO of Qualcomm. You can watch the livestream here.

News below.

Alan Murray




Bill Gates Falls To Third Place 

Bill Gates has fallen to third place, from second, in the ranking of the world's richest people—overtaken by France's Bernard Arnault, who owns LVMH, the luxury-goods company. Arnault's fortune has risen by $39 billion just this year, according to a Bloomberg ranking, with his net worth now estimated at $107.6 billion, $200 million ahead of Gates. One place nothing has changed: the very top. That spot still belongs to Amazon's Jeff Bezos. Fortune 

The EU vs. Amazon

Another busy day for Margrethe Vestager, the EU's antitrust chief, who is nearing the end of her five-year term. The EU is expected to launch an investigation into how Amazon uses the data from other sellers, following a preliminary investigation into the company since last year. That investigation could be announced as early as today. In other EU news, Ursula von der Leyen, former German defense minister, was narrowly approved as the next president of the European Commission. FT

China, the U.S.—and the WTO

The U.S. did not comply with a World Trade Organization ruling, an appeals judge for the trade body said late Tuesday, and could face Chinese sanctions as a result. That ruling comes after China went to the WTO in 2012 over U.S. tariffs on Chinese exports, equal to goods worth $7.3 billion at the time. That comes amid trade tensions between the two countries and as the WTO itself is facing a staffing crisis that could cause it to at least temporarily shutdown. Reuters

Has Silicon Valley Let Its Guard Down? 

When it comes to the risk of hacks by state-sponsored groups, a panel of cybersecurity experts say yes. That was the consensus from a group of cybersecurity experts at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference. “I think people in the Valley are naïve to the foreign nation-state threat,” said one cyber-security expert. Fortune


Google's Database of Political Ads Is Full of Holes 

After it faced calls for more transparency over how it displays political ads, Google set up a searchable database. But nearly a year later, the database is full of errors and holes, according to staffers and consultants. Many ads that campaigns say they have purchased have not appeared at all. That causes problems during a crowded presidential race, when keeping track of rivals' campaign spending is key. WSJ

London's E-Scooter Future

Electric scooters, which have become immensely popular across Europe in less than a year, are an increasing common sight in London—where they're still largely illegal. The U.K. government is reviewing that policy, but a fatal accident involving a British YouTube star and a serious accident involving a teenage boy less than a day later show London is dealing with the most severe risks of e-scooters before they've even officially arrived. Fortune

Where Does North Korea Get Its Luxury Cars? 

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un travels by top-of-the-line Mercedes-Benz, which cost between $500,000 and $1.6 million each—despite U.N. sanctions that should stop luxury goods from getting into the country. But an investigation shows that an elaborate system of transfers between a string of companies and ports manages to stay one step ahead. New York Times

Bulgaria's Data Goes Missing 

A cyber attack on Bulgaria's tax agency has likely compromised the data of nearly every single adult in a country of seven million people. A 20-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of involvement, but it's not clear what the motive was, or how the breach even occurred. Reuters 

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by Katherine Dunn. Find previous editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here.

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