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AI Biweekly September W 4 — W 5

What’s New in Synced AI Biweekly?

This is a brand new version of our regular feature AI Biweekly. Including the 10 bits section you may already familiar with, our new product also presents our analysts’ opinions on what has happened in AI in a certain industry over the past two weeks. This is one of your Monday must-reads to start the week.

Why We Do This?

Synced aims to bring our readers a wonderful reading experience. AI Biweekly not only summarizes important AI news in a comprehensive way, but also provides professional perspectives for our readers to look at the entire AI industry.

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Biweekly Review

Ivan Zhou — Analyst, Global Industry

Amazon released two visual-centric tools for shoppers. The first, Scott, is Amazon’s new experiment in product recommendation: customers can browse through product images in a category of their interest, like shoes, and express their preference for a shoe image through an explicit thumbs up or down button. With its powerful machine learning system, Amazon can identify the visual features that attract the users based on their feedbacks, and then refine recommendations accordingly. Users don’t need to type a single query or explicitly give any product specifications. As the second tool is a visual search feature built for Snapchat: users can point their camera at a product and then be directed to relevant product pages on Amazon. Both of the tools are tailored to areas like fashion apparel and home furniture, where customers often don’t know how to precisely describe what they want through queries. In comparison, photos can describe users’ preferences and identify relevant results more easily. In the past, customers tended to use inspirational visual tools, like Pinterest, or curation services, like Stitch Fix, to discover products to buy. Amazon has been aware of such gaps in its services, so it invested resources in experiments around visual search and discovery. Scott, as well as the visual search feature on Snapchat, are two good examples of these efforts. Visual search has garnered an increasing amount of investment in E-commerce, with Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba all getting involved. With our mobile phones becoming more powerful and cameras getting better, we are getting more used to interacting with the physical world through the lenses on our phones, driving the trend of visual-centric product discovery in E-Commerce.

September 19th — Amazon Launched a Visual-based Shopping Tool Scout, Powered with Machine Learning

  • With Scott, customers can browse product images in a specific category, express the desire for a product with a thumbs up or down. The system will keep refining recommendations with machine learning techniques.
  • Amazon extracts thousands of visual features from product images so that they can identify users’ preferences when they like or dislike a product images. This enables the system to quickly spot customers’ tastes and provide personalized recommendation from millions of items in catalogs.
  • Currently the product categories include tables, chairs, home decorations, lighting, women’s shoes, and so on.

September 24th — Amazon Helps Snapchat Build a Visual-Search Shopping Feature


Nicholas Richards — Analyst, Global Industry

Facebook’s management motto has long been “Move fast and break things.” However, relationships are now being torn apart as the company prepares to enter the smart home device category while fighting ongoing security scandals. Just as Brian Acton, one of the founders of WhatsApp, opened up to the public about his disagreements with Mark Zuckerberg, the founders of Instagram have announced they are leaving Facebook amid similar tensions. Although Zuckerberg is known to prefer a hands-off approach with acquisitions, Instagram and WhatsApp are of growing strategic importance as the company’s core business stalls, and the issues have made the Facebook brand suffer. Employees have even coined the term “brand tax” when referring to privacy adjustments on products, like a rumored manual shutter on the camera of the Portal smart home device. By breaking ties to move faster, integrating with Instagram and monetizing WhatsApp, Facebook is certainly committing to designing a safer future, for itself.

September 25th — Instagram Founders Depart Facebook After Clashes With Zuckerberg

  • The founders of Instagram have left Facebook amid reports of growing tension with CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  • After years of relative autonomy, Instagram’s founders recently became frustrated with growing involvement from Zuckerberg in their day-to-day decisions.
  • Zuckerberg sees Instagram as an important part of Facebook’s future and it is regarded by analysts as the key driver of Facebook’s competitive ability to attract younger users.
  • The departure should result in deeper integration between Facebook and Instagram.

September 29th — Facebook Security Breach: Up to 50m Accounts Attacked

  • A security flaw in Facebook’s “View As” function left the data of 50 million users vulnerable to attacks.
  • Facebook informed law agencies and affected users were asked to re-log-in.
  • The flaw has been fixed and all 50 million accounts, plus 40 million more have been reset.
  • It is not sure yet what type of attacks have taken place. An investigation is ongoing.

Presented by Synced Industry Analyst Team

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