Investments Swell in Artificial Intelligence: Are Users Adopting?

#ArtificialIntelligence (#AI) is hot. Like many technology waves, AI has also stormed the Silicon Valley. In a list published by AngelList there are already more than 2,000 start up AI companies that have an average valuation of USD $5 million. #IDC, in one of its recent reports, mentions that the total market size of #AI will cross $47 billion by 2020. The report also says that over 62% of enterprises worldwide will adopt AI by next year. Call it #MachineLearning, Natural Language Processing, #SpeechRecognition, #Robotics-driven system or a Computer-aided Intelligence, the industry will witness a deluge of AI-based applications in both enterprise and consumer spaces. 


Check out the List mentioning the 2000 start-ups, which are all eyeing at this US$ 47 billion market. I am sure many of them must be on the "hot list" of being acquired by the tech giants who are working on their respective AI visions. 


If we look at some of the top technology and electronics companies, each one is either shopping for or building AI tools/solutions.


I studied and analyzed some of these companies to understand the momentum:


#Amazon has made strong moves to be in this space through its Amazon Machine Learning platform. Amazon Echo is enabling consumers through its intelligent voice server Alexa. Speaking at the Internet Association’s annual event in Washington DC, Jeff Bezos of Amazon calls it a renaissance; a golden age. "A lot of the value that we’re getting from machine learning is actually happening beneath the surface. It is things like improved search results, improved product recommendations for customers, improved forecasting for inventory management. Literally hundreds of other things beneath the surface,” said Bezos. Amazon's #Rekognition is a service that makes it easy to add image analysis to your applications. With Rekognition, you can detect objects, scenes faces; search and compare faces, and identify inappropriate content in images. Rekognition’s #API enables you to quickly add sophisticated deep-learning-based visual search and image classification to your applications.


#Apple so far has bought as many as four start-ups in the AI space. There was a research paper by Apple in December last year that describes a technique for improving artificial intelligence. The focus is on computer vision and pattern recognition. By publishing this paper Apple has made its intention clear. It wants to be more visible in the space in the future. 


#Facebook, the friendly name in social media and now closing in on the 2 billion user mark, has got big plans in AI space. The company wants to make more sense of the data shared on its platform. It has so far opened three AI Labs demonstrating that AI is their next big vision. Fast Company reported last year that Facebook has hired more than 150 people solely devoted to AI. Tech Crunch reported about a product developed by Facebook’s AI Research Lab called #FastText. "FastText supports both text classification and learning word vector representations through techniques like a bag of words and subword information. fastText is not restricted to English and can work with other languages including German, Spanish, French, and Czech." All of it is built on open source. Facebook also acquired two companies in face recognition and text and voice bot spaces respectively. 


After having acquired 3 AI companies in the last few years, #Salesforce finally announced Einstein Vision. It is a set of powerful new APIs that allow and Heroku developers of all skill levels to bring image recognition to CRM and build AI-powered apps fast. Now, everyone can leverage pre-trained image classifiers, or train their own custom classifiers to solve a vast array of image-recognition use cases, empowering end users across sales, service, and marketing to be smarter and more predictive. With Einstein Vision, the power of image recognition can easily be embedded in any app, with just clicks. This will also be available for customers who want to build their own apps. 


Without a doubt, #IBM is the leader in the AI space. Since the time #Watson won the US quiz show Jeopardy, IBM has made deep strides into this space. IBM has now teamed up with Nvidia, which will provide Watson a response rate that is 1.7 times faster than before. reported last week that IBM is also developing a teaching assistant app that will plan lessons based on approved material. Trials for this should begin next year in New York. Interestingly in the beginning of 2017, German Auto major #BMW signed up to develop in-car AI and IoT services using IBM Watson. The initiative seeks to process in car data alongside artificially intelligent assistant systems to help vehicles run more efficiently and provide a personalized driving experience unrivaled in existing vehicles. IBM is now offering #cybersecurity intelligence using Watson. Earlier this year IBM announced that it was partnering with eight universities for a research project to provide Watson with the requisite data necessary to expand its security protocol. These universities were chosen on the strength of their cybersecurity programs. The system was about learning the nuances of security research findings and discovering patterns and evidence of cyber attacks and threats that could otherwise be missed. Besides this, IBM’s cognitive solutions in healthcare space are far ahead than any other player in this space. 


#Google started its AI story with its 2014 catch #DeepMind that it bought for a steep price US$400 million. The company also announced the availability of its machine learning platform #TensorFlow earlier this year. TensorFlow is an open source software library for numerical computation using data flow graphs. Its flexible architecture allows you to deploy computation to one or more CPUs or GPUs in a desktop, server, or mobile device with a single API. Google has so far acquired close to 20 AI companies including startups.        


Interesting to note, #Microsoft started a special venture fund last year that only invests in AI companies whose focus is on inclusive growth and larger impact on society. The fund’s first investment is in Element AI, a Montreal-based incubator that “helps organizations embrace an AI-first strategy.” AI has been an explicit focal point for Microsoft Ventures. New York-based startup Agolo last week got fresh funding from Microsoft Ventures. The startup is developing a program that summarizes large amounts of information using artificial intelligence. The fund also announced its investments in Berkeley-based Bonsai which develops AI platforms aimed at helping companies build their own intelligent enterprise tools. Earlier this month, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, while addressing the Build Developer Conference in Seattle, said that Microsoft is now “AI first.” Microsoft is apparently investing in AI for over two decades. This vision is now coming to life with new chatbot Zo, Cortana Devices SDK and Skills Kit, and expansion of intelligence tools. With #Skype Translator, Microsoft has enabled people to understand each other, in real time, while talking to others in all corners of the world. Using the company’s new intelligent language and speech recognition capability, Microsoft Translator can now simultaneously translate between groups speaking multiple languages in-person, in real-time, connecting people and overcoming barriers.


#Intel acquired 3 startups in the AI space in 2016 alone. These were ItseezNervana Systems, and Movidius. Earlier this month, the company joined the Partnership on AI to help the organization and its fellow members use artificial intelligence (AI) to improve lives and society. Nervana has a fully-optimized software and hardware stack for deep learning. Their IP and expertise in accelerating deep learning algorithms will expand Intel’s capabilities in the field of AI. Itseez has expertized in Computer Vision (CV) algorithms and implementations for embedded and specialized hardware. Movidius is another computer vision startup that was also behind Google’s Project Tango 3D sensor technology. Based on it, Intel RealSense technology is set to redefine virtual reality, giving users the freedom to immerse in a virtual environment untethered, with hand interaction and external sensor independence. Intel merged reality solutions enhance intelligent computing at the network edge.


Advances in AI, machine learning, and natural user interfaces are making it possible to automate knowledge-worker tasks that have long been regarded as impossible or impractical for machines to perform.


There are many other technology companies doing noticeable work in the AI space making it the hottest trend in the technology space.


Vala Afshar, Chief Digital Evangelist of published a blog on Huffington Post that also mentioned some key predictions about AI. Quoted below are those predictions: 


·      In five years, more than half of your customers will select your services based on your AI instead of your traditional brand

·      In seven years, most interfaces will not have a screen and will be integrated into daily tasks

·      In 10 years, digital assistants will be so pervasive they’ll keep employees productive 24/7/365, operating in the background for workplace interactions, like creating video summaries right after an important meeting


In all, the advances in AI, machine learning, and natural user interfaces are making it possible to automate knowledge-worker tasks that have long been regarded as impossible or impractical for machines to perform.


Are enterprises really gearing up to embrace the AI? IDC says the global spending on AI this year will be $12.5 billion. That's quite a lot of money. Most of the revenue will come from cognitive applications, which includes cognitively-enabled process and industry applications that automatically learn, discover, and make recommendations or predictions. The data is promising and therefore it will be safe to say that AI is hot.

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Rahul Neel Mani

Rahul Neel Mani is the Co-founder and Editor of Grey Head Media. Rahul has nearly 20 years of experience in ...

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