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GeekWire reports that Walmart wants to build its own “neural network cluster,” which will then allow its Walmart Labs division “to build a series of neural networks in order to train AI systems within current and future applications.”

Here’s why that’s important: “AI could become a huge differentiating factor in the retail stores of the future, and it’s one big reason why Amazon bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion this year. Whole Foods gives Amazon Web Services’ artificial intelligence team reams of data on shopper behavior to study and train its own AI systems, and AWS will be able to use Whole Foods stores to test drive AI-related services that could eventually become part of the core AWS product lineup.”

While Walmart generally is not seen as being at the same AI level as Amazon (or Google or Microsoft or Facebook, for that matter), GeekWire points out that “this is what Walmart Labs was created to do: bring the dominant retailer of the 20th century into the digital world as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
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