On Friday afternoon, adult children sat sandwiched between their parents in green chairs that filled the spacious Amazon Meeting Center. The auditorium buzzed with excitement like it was college orientation, except the children were Amazon employees and the parents wouldn’t be lugging furniture into a four-person dorm room afterward.
In a twist on the traditional “bring your kids to work day,” over 7,000 Amazon employees and parents swarmed the South Lake Union complex for a glimpse into the younger generation’s work at the tech giant. Amazon’s fourth annual “Bring Your Parents to Work” day welcomed parents from all 50 states and as far as India and China. Parents toured Amazon’s Spheres featuring winding walkways and thousands of plants woven into mesh walls, and engaged in more than 15 presentations to learn about what goes on at the Seattle-based company’s headquarters.
The challenge facing Amazon presenters was to explain complicated subjects to this general audience in an accessible way. In this instance, how do you explain to your mother machine learning, an analytics system that finds patterns in a large amount of data?
In a nod to former generations, Amazon technical product managers Chris Morrow and Pierre Brunelle entered a stage at the front of the auditorium to the theme song for the longtime game show “The Price is Right.”
“Whether they know it or not, many Amazonians work directly on machine learning, or are influenced by [it],” said Morrow. In machine learning, workers annotate images, videos or text that are then fed into software to improve products such as Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa.