From MIT Technology Review, March 22:
Amazon is a notoriously secretive company, but its recent conference provides a glance at its far-out plans.
You can see the future of Amazon from MARS.
In this case, MARS stands for “machine learning, home automation, robotics, and space exploration”—an invitation-only conference in Palm Springs, California, hosted by Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos. This year’s conference, the third annual, wrapped up on Wednesday.
It wasn’t a normal conference. No deals were made. No products were announced. In fact, there wasn’t even any Amazon branding anywhere. During the two days in the desert, the 200 guests—including a Nobel Prize winner, astronauts, designers, and the actor and Parkinson’s research advocate Michael J. Fox—explored their adventurous side with activities like knife making and biplane rides. Ostensibly, the focus of the conference was on the presentations the guests could make to each other about their work or passions. But the event’s real power was a glimpse into Amazon’s future.
And it suggests that Bezos’s plans for the company are expansive.
Many of the talks discussed subjects on Amazon’s existing product road maps, and many of the guests represented companies already aligned with its businesses. Amazon’s Alexa voice-activated software is already integrated into products from speaker company Sonos and automaker Ford—and the CEO of Sonos and the CTO of Ford were both guests.
Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich, demonstrated indoor drones that could one day pick up an item off a sky-high shelf in an Amazon warehouse. And recent whispers about Amazon’s interest in health care were backed up with presentations by Sonde, an AI firm that can diagnosis mental and physical health from voice recordings, and Seismic, a clothing company that helps wearers gain more mobility thanks to robotic garments.
But Bezos appears to have more far-out plans, too....MORE