This couple keeps getting mystery packages from Amazon they didn’t order

A new type of scam where companies send out their products solely so that they can themselves write 5-star reviews on Amazon.

Here’s how two experts who used to work for Amazon, James Thomson and Chris McCabe, say it probably works: A seller trying to prop up a product would set up a phony e-mail account that would be used to establish an Amazon account. Then the seller would purchase merchandise with a gift card — no identifying information there — and send it to a random person, in this case the Gallivans. Then, the phantom seller, who controls the “buyer’s” e-mail account, writes glowing reviews of the product, thus boosting the Amazon ranking of the product.

 

Amazon multiplied its machine learning

This is interesting: How Amazon Rebuilt Itself Around Artificial Intelligence. There are lots of fascinating things but what grabbed me most was that Amazon had either the great foresight or plain old jammy luck to put in place ways to multiply the growth of their machine learning expertise.

For example, by being more open with employees’ freedom to publish research, and thus make visible the sorts of projects that they were undertaking, Amazon was better able to recruit talent that otherwise would have gone to Facebook, Google or stayed in academia. These better-qualified employees then published even more impressive work, piquing the interests of the very best in the field.

They also worked to hugely increase the amount of data available with which to train their AI. By opening up their platforms to third party developers and creating more consumer products that run on them, they could apply their machine learning techniques to a far larger dataset, leading to huge advances in understanding and capability at great speed.