It has been clear for some time that the internet majors are battling for dominance in AI and machine learning. Unusually, it is an area that is of key strategic importance to both consumer and enterprise players. So it is not just Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon but also IBM, SAP and Salesforce that are building teams in this space. It is also a global phenomenon with Baidu, Tencent, Alibaba, Softbank and Rakuten investing in the area.
This has profound implications for early stage AI businesses. We have already seen a number of acquisitions in this space in the UK including Google/DeepMind, Apple/VocalIQ, Microsoft/Swiftkey and Twitter/Magic Pony. We expect to see many more acquisitions in the medium term.
I can also a threat to start ups that choose not to sell. They will find it harder to retain their valuable AI savvy people who will be targeted by the majors desperate to add AI talent.
For students considering what to study at university, AI looks like a very good bet.
FEI-FEI LI IS a big deal in the world of AI. As the director of the Artificial Intelligence and Vision labs at Stanford University, she oversaw the creation of ImageNet, a vast database of images designed to accelerate the development of AI that can “see.” And, well, it worked, helping to drive the creation of deep learning systems that can recognize objects, animals, people, and even entire scenes in photos—technology that has become commonplace on the world’s biggest photo-sharing sites. Now, Fei-Fei will help run a brand new AI group inside Google, a move that reflects just how aggressively the world’s biggest tech companies are remaking themselves around this breed of artificial intelligence.