US postal service goes all in on AI

Plus: Google boffin who resigned over AI ethics controversy, joins Apple


In Brief What do you know? The US Postal Service uses AI technology and have GPU servers running computer vision algorithms to track items being delivered across the country.

The system is called the Edge Computing Infrastructure Program (ECIP, pronounced EE-sip) and is designed to run inference operations on machine learning models using Nvidia’s GPUs. The USPS relies on deep-learning systems to perform image recognition tasks, and hopefully speed up the mail.

“It used to take eight or 10 people several days to track down items, now it takes one or two people a couple hours,” said Todd Schimmel, the manager who oversees ECIP and other USPS systems. Schimmel hopes USPS will deploy more algorithms that can detect if the correct postage stamp has been used for a package, and to automatically read barcodes even if they’re damaged.

“We’re at the very beginning of our journey with edge AI. Every day, people in our organization are thinking of new ways to apply machine learning to new facets of robotics, data processing and image handling,” he added.

It’s a good time to be hiring AI devs if you’re not Google, eh?

Samy Bengio, a veteran expert in neural networks who left Google after it controversially ousted its two ethical AI team co-leads – Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell – has joined Apple.

He will oversee a new AI research unit at the iGiant, and report to John Giannandrea, senior veep of machine learning and AI strategy, according to Reuters.

The Chocolate Factory faced a PR disaster and internal revolt after it pushed Gebru out over an academic paper [PDF] criticizing large language models. Mitchell is also a co-author of the research. She was fired after Google accused her of violating the company’s code of conduct and security policies for downloading and sending files to an external Google account outside of work.

Bengio supported the pair, and quit his job after Google reshuffled the management for its AI research team.

The US government is serious about AI and it has a new government website to show for it

The web domain ai.gov is now up and running after the passage of the US National AI Initiative Act from the previous Trump administration.

The site was launched on Wednesday, according to Fed Scoop.

Under the new law, the US government launched a new AI-focused unit working under the Office of Science and Technology Policy. It brings together numerous agencies, including the National Science Foundation, NASA, to the Department of State, and the National Security Council to collaborate and invest in fundamental AI research.

“The mission of the National AI Initiative is to ensure continued US leadership in AI research and development, lead the world in the development and use of trustworthy AI in the public and private sectors, and prepare the present and future US workforce for the integration of AI systems across all sectors of the economy and society,” the site said. ®

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