How Instacart fixed its A.I. and keeps up with the coronavirus pandemic

Like many companies, online grocery delivery service Instacart has spent the past few months overhauling its machine-learning models because the coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed how customers behave.

Starting in mid-March, Instacart’s all-important technology for predicting whether certain products would be available at specific stores became increasingly inaccurate. Instead of being correct 93% of the time, it dropped to 61%. This is a problem because customers could get annoyed being told one thing—the item that they wanted was available—when in fact it wasn’t, resulting in products never being delivered. “A shock to the system” is how Instacart’s machine learning director

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