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AI tools came out of the lab in 2016

Peter Sayer | Jan. 4, 2017
The kinds of tools that built one of the most remarkable AIs of the year are now available for any business to use

For businesses that want to deploy cutting-edge AI technologies without developing everything from scratch themselves, easy access to high-performance hardware is a start, but not enough. Cloud operators recognize that, and are also offering AI software as a service. Amazon Web Services and Microsoft's Azure have both added machine learning APIs, while IBM is building a business around cloud access to its Watson AI.

The fact that these hardware and software tools are cloud-based will help AI systems in other ways too.

Being able to store and process enormous volumes of data is only useful to the AI that has access to vast quantities of data from which to learn -- data such as that collected and delivered by cloud services, for example, whether its information about the weather, mail order deliveries, requests for rides or peoples' tweets.

Access to all that raw data, rather than the minute subset, processed and labelled by human trainers, that was available to previous generations of AIs, is one of the biggest factors transforming AI research today, according to a Stanford University study of the next 100 years in AI.

And while having computers watch everything we do, online and off, in order to learn how to work with us might seem creepy, it's really only in our minds. The computers don't feel anything. Yet.

 

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