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The Six Five On the Road at Amazon re:MARS

On this episode of The Six Five – On The Road hosts Patrick Moorhead and Daniel Newman sit down to give an overview of the recent Amazon re:MARS event that was held in Las Vegas. While at the event they had conversations with Clint Crosier, AWS Director of Space and Satellite, Michael MacKenzie, GM of Industrial IoT and Edge Services, and Bratin Saha, VP and General Manager, Machine Learning Services, Amazon AI.

To learn more about the event, check out the website here.

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The M in re:MARS — AWS Machine Learning

The A & R in re:MARS — AWS Automation and Robotics

The S in re:MARS — AWS Space & Satellite

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Daniel Newman: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Six Five Podcast, On the Road, at Amazon re:MARS. I’m one of your hosts, Daniel Newman, Principal Analyst, founding partner at Futurum Research, joined by-

Patrick Moorhead: Patrick Moorhead, CEO and founder of Moor Insights and Strategy, and Daniel, I am so glad to be here. They should ring in this to Amazon event.. The coolest tech is here. I mean, we’re looking at machine learning, we’re looking at automation, we’re looking at robotics, and we’re looking at space. I can’t think of four things, you know, a little bit of quantum in there to really talk about the future of technology and future capabilities out there.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. You know, I got here and I didn’t really know what to expect. We have the reinvent vibe, huge event wall-to-wall, and don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of people here.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Daniel Newman: But a little bit different though also. A lot of intimate conversations being had here and the stuff, Pat, we kind of consider ourselves smart guys, right, and hopefully everyone out there agrees. If you’re listening to us, hopefully it’s because you find our insights and our analysis to be intelligent, but this is a place full of smarter guys and smarter gals.

Patrick Moorhead: Absolutely.

Daniel Newman: And I just have to say, I walk away from this event feeling like I’ve had a PhD in life and I’ve learned about space and robots and AI at a whole other level than I ever thought about. Well, and the coolest part, and maybe I mischaracterize it up front, this isn’t just about the future. There are all the things in Mars that are happening today. And that’s, I think, part of the allure for everybody, right? Even if you want to know just what’s happening today, there is value. But if you want to think about, and really you’re a thinker and you think about the future and want to know what earth is going to be like, or other planets are going to be like in 25 years, you get that as well.

Patrick Moorhead: And yes, Daniel, I feel like everybody else is a PhD and we weren’t, but that’s okay. Because our role here is to … I think one of our superpowers, and I think we both share this, is to make this relevant to more people, more people than PhDs. And I think investors, if you’re looking at where should you place some of your next bets, I think this is important as well to see these capabilities because this is the next 150 trillion dollar markets out here.

Daniel Newman: Oh yeah. I mean, we’ve watched this space race, that’s been a thing. We know AI is going to be huge and there is a relentless pursuit. Anyone betting against AI has lost the plot, I don’t care what the market’s doing.

Patrick Moorhead: Well, it’s because it’s a reality today. I mean even Amazon has a 100,000 customers doing AI. They’re the largest, but there’s also other companies that are doing this, too.

Daniel Newman: And then you got future technologies like Future of Commerce. I think everybody thought during the pandemic that retail was dead. But by the way, Amazon is one of the most interesting innovators and pioneers of what retail will look like next. It’s not retail going away. It’s different retail. So let’s talk about that.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah.

Daniel Newman: I came up with like four things, and I don’t know if you want to add anything, but maybe we just go down the list because this show is a chance for you and I to sort of hit on some of the high notes, things that really caught our attention. And by the way, there was way more than four, but we’re only going to take about 20 minutes total here. And of course, if you’re out there, just know there are going to be three other interviews. We’re going to talk about space and AI and ML and some other things on these other shows. So make sure you tune into all of them. But let’s just start with space.

Patrick Moorhead: Sure.

Daniel Newman: The next frontier. What are some of your impressions with all the things you heard about space here and tying it together to some of the everyday tech stuff we talk about?

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah. So it’s interesting. I walked in thinking that we were going to be talking about exploring new worlds and moon bases and space stations. And we got a little bit of that, but I think one of the biggest eye openers to me was how to make life on earth better. Better by doing things like research in space or photography in space, to be able to better optimize for agriculture, too. We talked to Clint about how instead of a three day response in the rainforest when there’s a fire, more like a three minute response, to know immediately, so good for sustainability.

So being able to do drugs and, gosh, you love this, having a fab in the space.

Daniel Newman: Hold on, you said be able to do drugs, you love this, and then you talk about building a fab in space.

Patrick Moorhead: Sorry, to create drugs, doing it in a weightless if gravity is better.

Daniel Newman: That’s a highlight moment, by the way.

Patrick Moorhead:        No, I appreciate that. No, I actually do.

Daniel Newman: That will make the super cut.

Patrick Moorhead: There is, by the way, some entertainment value in some of these little moments. But, yeah, I said that, I said, you know, what do we have like the Millennium Falcon in space. It’s going to be like the ultimate fab. We’re going to be doing negative one millimeter in space.

Daniel Newman: Right.

Patrick Moorhead: But the idea of going 3D, and by the way, that’s a really great analogy there as we, of course, talk about chiplets and 3D packaging all the time in the semiconductor space, space kind of gives us a 3D opportunity to do things that we’re doing on earth and make those three dimensions larger.

Daniel Newman: Right.

Patrick Moorhead: The development of drug compounds that could create benefits for people on earth, the ability to learn how to farm better, to deal with hunger and starvation on other planets. But I also really loved the pragmatic sort of this isn’t just the future, this is the now. To know that Amazon, its partners, Orbital Reef, that they’re working on building real futuristic communities where private space can become something that is accessible and, even as fatalistic as it is, they talk about things like the extinction events, as the planet continues to become more congested, as we are struggling with climate sustainability, does space and low orbit space become an option to help us deal with the congestion? I know we don’t want to face the realities, that’s sort of the marker of the human condition, but we need to. Maybe I’ll end this part of the space segment just talking about … I have some renewed faith in private public partnerships here. And it seemed like for a while, whether it was space or aeronautics, things like that seemed to work at a glacial pace, right?

I mean, I’ve seen multiple research studies on this that typically when we have an all government doing something, there’s a 5 to 10X waste. We’ve always heard about the $5,000 wrench to fix something on an aircraft carrier. Well, here we have new ways of inventing that are coming through companies like Blue Origin and AWS. It’s great stuff.

Daniel Newman: Absolutely. In fact, I would argue that the private is what’s the accelerant in working with the public.

Patrick Moorhead: Oh, absolutely.

Daniel Newman: And it’s brought it back. It’s made it cool. You know, made it interesting, provocative, and controversial at the same time.

Patrick Moorhead: Exactly.

Daniel Newman: Which in a way creates a lot of attention and that’s the attention we needed to bring back to science. And you know, there’s so much more, Pat. I still remember the first time that Amazon Go was brought to my attention. And god, I thought that was cool. But there was a lot of limitations early on, right?

Patrick Moorhead: Sure.

Daniel Newman: And so part of the whole automation, robotics, IOT, AI is really about creating the practical experiences of the future. And so, one of the things we heard about quite a bit here was that kind of future of commerce. So whether that’s autonomous warehouses, which by the way, have you ever been onsite at an Amazon warehouse to see how this actually happens?

Patrick Moorhead:  Yeah.

Daniel Newman: You and I visited one in south Austin, which at-

Patrick Moorhead:  St. Marcus.

Daniel Newman:  … that time, it was state of the art. And we saw in person, which by the way, they do do open tours for the public that you can sign up for. But literally, you know, it’s funny, I was expecting robots to be taking little things and doing pick, pack, ship. But what happens in reality is literally the entire inventory stack in a pod moves. And then a person comes in and takes it and is being moved around by these orange cool looking robots, which they had out on the show floor. So this is reality. And I think what we saw is what does the next generation look like? And one of the coolest thing that I saw that I think could help kind of in this distribution warehouse of the future, is this bipedal robot that Amazon is in investing in this company that does it, that kind of takes that to the next level because current robots are two dimensional, right? You and I both saw it. And taking that to three dimensional, I can see really helping to help with this labor crisis where we just can’t get enough workers to do jobs.

Patrick Moorhead: Well, we need automation at scale. And what’s most interesting maybe about the whole future of commerce experience and what Amazon talked about here at re:MARS was more of an amalgamation of technologies.

Daniel Newman: Right.

Patrick Moorhead: I guess you could put one of these in space, but definitely the rest of the Mars, like machine learning, automation, robotics put together are going to create an experience in the future where shopping really does look different, meaning that our interactions with retail, our interactions in a distribution center facility, at a ballpark, in a smart city are going to be more seamless, frictionless. And that’s really what the future is about. You want something to drink, it knows who you are, you take it off the shelf, you open it. You’ve got IOT reading your metrics, telling you your hydration level. You’ve got the store being notified what it is you’ve purchased. You’re going to be able to have medical records connected to that that’s going to tell what particular foods are reacting the best in your blood types.

Now, again, I’m getting out there. But right now, just even having that shopping cart that you can just walk into the store, load up everything you need, walk out of a checkout aisle, have it know whom to bill. You’re not shoplifting. And again, how do you-

Daniel Newman: Don’t forget about the one, right? You need to put your palm up there.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, yeah. There’s a biometric or maybe, at least now. In the future, maybe, maybe not, because you’ve got computer vision. It knows who you are. It knows you were in this store. It knows which cart you had, what stuff ended up in it. That could be very quickly detected. It could be calculated, tabulated, tied to some sort of digital currency, crypto, whatever that final route, that final thing ends up being. But think of it, it’s IOT, it’s robotics, it’s AI, it’s ML. It’s frictionless commerce. It’s a lot of technologies. It’s data, it’s health, it’s all brought together. The future is not going to be any of these technologies in vacuums pad. It’s going to be technology culminated to change our lives.

Daniel Newman: You know, you said the word frictionless, and I remember back when Amazon started back in the ’90s. One of the first things they did, that was one of their superpowers, is there was the easiest way to check out. And every single thing that they did to that experience made it easier. And then it was the Buy Now, where not just add to cart, just buy now. And then the ability to not get something in one or two weeks, but to get it in a week and then a day, and then within a few hours. So reducing friction in commerce is everything that Amazon started with and it’s ironic that they’ve literally stuck to that path as it comes to commerce. Because if you think about all these things for supply chains and all the robotics in the warehouses, it’s all about taking friction out of every step of the way.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah. So listen, there’s a lot there. So we have a few minutes left and I just want to maybe touch on two other things that I thought were super interesting. Take a second here. Conversational AI. It’s been sort of this over promised under delivered technology for some time. Anyone that’s interacted with any of the smart speakers up to this point knows that there’s a lot of limitations in terms of what each turn looks like. They call it a turn. Amazon is showing a real promise that this next generation of conversation is going to start to feel natural, Pat. And I think that is earth changing. When we start talking and interacting with the machine in a more human, empathic useful way, that’s going to bring AI into the mainstream in a way we’ve never seen before.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. The one example that they showed in the keynote that really was amazing was having a mapping of the grandmother’s voice and reading the book to the grandchild. And it wasn’t actually the grandmother reading the book. I mean, heck, the grandmother could have passed away, if you think about that, and that kind of really jogs your memory. But it is definitely next generation on there. I mean, speaking of next generation, brain computer interface. I mean, we’ve seen it out there, but we actually saw pictures of a human with a real brain computer interface that helped them walk when they couldn’t walk before. It augmented their ability to actually walk. I think that is mind blowing.

Patrick Moorhead: Well, the number one thing for someone that experiences complete paralysis is what was identified as they want the ability to message.

Daniel Newman: Right.

Patrick Moorhead: And so that’s really the human connection. And at this point, if you think about the interdependence that we’ve created with our devices, and again it’s a portal to our world, the fact that they’re building a technology, and they demonstrated this here, using neuroscience and technology-

Daniel Newman: Well actually using a stint-

Patrick Moorhead: A stint of technology to put the probe in was amazing. And then using Bluetooth to have that realtime transmitter so you don’t have a wire hanging out of your head the whole day.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. The joke that the keynoter gave was kind of like some of us may not want that level of transparency to have every thought be able to be displayed. But the idea for someone that’s lost the ability to communicate to the world, bringing it back, it’s like bringing vision back for blindness or bringing the ability to hear back for the hearing impaired, bringing in the ability to communicate for someone that cannot communicate. I mean, I don’t know about you, Pat, but it felt heartwarming to me, and it also just felt amazing, like, wow. By the way, I also felt like what I do just became way less important, like the things we do, but what we can do is talk about it-

Patrick Moorhead: Exactly, and educate people and quite frankly, you know, motivate people to invest more and do more and hopefully, maybe limit the creepy factor a little bit. Because when you think about this, you know, some people, when you talk about it, they might cringe. But when you think about the ability to, like you said, help a person who couldn’t communicate before communicate, a person who could never walk to be able to walk, that is game changing and kind of makes my job a little, but I think we have a role as industry analysts and educators out there in the market to talk about this, which we’re doing right now.

So Daniel, this was a fun wrap up. I mean, gosh, you and I could probably sit here for two hours and pontificate philosophies and talk about this because it’s really incredible. But I had a great experience and it was great. It was great being here with you, too.

Daniel Newman: Absolutely. On the Road has to hit the road. But thanks everybody for tuning in. Six Five On the Road at Amazon re:MARS. Check out all the episodes. So much here. So much to learn. And I promise you, this will not be the last time we’re talking about these topics or this event.

Patrick Moorhead: Take care.

Daniel Newman: See you all later.

Author Information

Daniel is the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise.

From the leading edge of AI to global technology policy, Daniel makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology investments. Daniel is a top 5 globally ranked industry analyst and his ideas are regularly cited or shared in television appearances by CNBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and hundreds of other sites around the world.

A 7x Best-Selling Author including his most recent book “Human/Machine.” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (Dow Jones) contributor.

An MBA and Former Graduate Adjunct Faculty, Daniel is an Austin Texas transplant after 40 years in Chicago. His speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


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