Afternoon Coffee: Corporate Spending on Artificial Intelligence Booms, DOT Forms Committee on Automation

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Spending on artificial intelligence technologies by companies is expected to grow to $47 billion in 2020 from a projected $8 billion in 2016, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. No longer confined to the four walls of tech firms like IBM and Google, organizations like AIG and Massachusetts General Hospital are increasingly looking to AI to analyze growing troves of business data.

New Federal Committee on Automation

The U.S. Department of Transportation has formed a group to define relevant research and policy goals, as well as regulations, related to the development of autonomous vehicles. The committee, which will meet for the first time on Monday, Supply  Chain 24/7 reports, includes members such as the CEO of General Motors, the mayor of Los Angles and a VP from Fedex.

”This new automation committee will work to advance life-saving innovations while boosting our economy and making our transportation network more fair, reliable, and efficient,” said Anthony Foxx, U.S. transportation secretary.

Synthetic Fiber Prices Turn a Corner

Global synthetic fiber prices increased in November for the first time in more than three years, according to the most recent PCI Wood Mackenzie data. As Sourcing Journal reports, crude oil prices gains last month have allowed producers of polyester and nylon intermediates and fibers to increase their own prices.

Proposed Fuel Tax Increase

Speaking of oil prices, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue turned some heads recently by calling for a “modest” increase in the federal tax on motor fuels to help pay for President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed $1 trillion in infrastructure spending over 10 years. The idea is likely to meet stiff resistance to tax-averse Republicans in Congress.

“For years, the Chamber has put an idea on the table – a modest increase in the federal gas tax, which hasn’t been raised in 24 years,” Donohue said. “It happens to be the simplest, fairest, and most straightforward solution.”

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