This week’s list of top data news highlights covers August 12, 2023 to August 18, 2023 and includes articles on launching an AI system that can answer tax questions and using a supercomputer to analyze early human habitats.
1. Summarizing Reviews
Amazon has introduced a new generative AI feature capable of crafting summaries for customer reviews of products. It enables shoppers to access consolidated insights about products from verified buyers, along with reviews highlighting specific product attributes.
2. Transferring Vehicle Ownership
West Virginia has launched the first digital clearinghouse to process out-of-state vehicle title transfers. Drivers and insurance carriers can use the clearinghouse to transfer vehicle ownership more quickly than would be possible in states that require paper processes.
3. Improving Search Experiences
Google has added new features to its AI-powered Search Generative Experience, a search tool that displays AI-generated answers to queries above standard results. For example, users can view an AI-generated summary of the key points of an article. Users can also click a link to go directly to the place in the article that discusses that point.
4. Reducing the Climate Impact of Aviation
American Airlines has partnered with Google and Breakthrough Energy, a U.S.-based clean energy consulting firm, to reduce contrails, or vapor trails created by aircraft that trap heat in the atmosphere. In a pilot test, Google and Breakthrough Energy used an AI system, satellite imagery, and data on flight paths and the weather to predict where contrails would form and modify flight plans. Pilots that flew the modified routes reduced contrails by 54 percent compared to pilots who did not.
5. Modeling Early Human Habitats
Researchers at Pusan National University in South Korea used a supercomputer to simulate climate conditions over a million years ago and combined the results with fossil and archeological data to determine whether humans were present in southern Europe at the time. Previous research has suggested that humans maintained a continuous presence in Europe since their arrival on the continent 1.4 million years ago. However, the team discovered that approximately 1.1 million years ago, the exceptionally harsh glacial conditions likely rendered the environment inhospitable for human habitation.
6. Tracking Municipal Data
Officials in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have unveiled a dashboard to track data on public health, crime, economic conditions, sanitation, and visitors in the city. Policymakers can use the dashboard to inform economic and social policies and efforts to revitalize the city’s downtown area after the COVID-19 pandemic downturn.
7. Generating Stickers
WhatsApp has started testing an AI-powered feature that can generate e-stickers. Users can submit text prompts, such as a laughing cat, to create the stickers and later share them in chats.
8. Riding in Autonomous Shuttles
The Treasure Island Mobility Management Agency and Treasure Island Development Authority in California are piloting an autonomous shuttle to transport passengers to seven stops around the island. The service is one of the first autonomous shuttles in California to operate entirely on public roads.
9. Answering Tax Questions
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a British professional services firm, has started piloting an AI assistant for its employees. The assistant, known as ChatPwC, can answer questions about taxes and relevant regulations.
10. Developing Training Tools
Researchers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale have created a training tool to teach people how to use naloxone, a medicine that can temporarily reverse opioids overdoses. The tool consists of a spray device, a manikin, and a virtual reality headset that can immerse students into realistic scenarios and improve engagement with the training.