by Mansi Joshi

AI is just getting started and tech giants are racing for it

Feb 01, 2017
AnalyticsBusinessEnergy Industry

The race for acquiring the next artificial intelligence startup is only getting started.

Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) the most significant turning point in technology since internet? It certainly seemed so last year, after AlphaGo defeated legendary Go player Lee Se-dol. AlphaGo, DeepMind’s Google backed program was based on neutral networks and machine learning. 

But machine learning is not a new concept. Then why was this victory so important? Because the ancient Chinese board game cannot be won based on permutations and combinations alone. Experts say that while rules of the game are quite simple, it requires a near human like intuition. 

We have entered an age where AI and cognitive science are being used, not just to crunch numbers, but to ‘think like a human’. And this can be done in a million different ways. It’s no wonder then that most technology giants have taken the plunge into AI. They are either acquiring small companies that work on AI, partnering with researchers or developing their own projects. It’s a feeding frenzy, and everyone wants a slice of the pie. 

AI: Hype or revolution? 

Forrester predicts that there will be more than a 300 percent increase in investment in AI in 2017, compared to last year. Forrester calls it an ‘insights revolution’. Artificial intelligence aka cognitive computing technologies will be rapidly assimilated into analytics practices, giving business users unprecedented access to powerful insights that drive action, says the research firm. Truly insights-driven businesses will steal USD 1.2 trillion per annum from their less-informed peers by 2020, predicts Forrester. 

IDC is also optimistic in its AI outlook. According to IDC, AI revenues will grow from nearly USD 8.0 billion in 2016 to more than USD 47 billion in 2020, at a CAGR of 55.1 percent. The theme of ‘revolution’ is mirrored again. IDC estimates that AI will drive 40 percent of the global digital transformation initiatives and 100 percent of the IoT initiatives by 2019. 

The transformation is starkly noticeable in the Asia Pacific market too. IDC projects that 40 percent of digital transformation in APAC region will be driven by artificial intelligence by 2020. 

Enterprises want a bite

Software developers and end user organizations have begun deploying AI into almost every conceivable enterprise application, observes IDC. 

Organizations and venture capitalists aren not shy on investing in AI startups. According to the research firm, healthcare and discrete manufacturing will invest the most in cognitive systems through 2020, with CAGRs of 69.3 percent and 61.4 percent, respectively.

North America has the biggest slice of the pie when it comes to AI spending with revenues hitting USD 6.2 billion in 2016.  Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) will remain the second largest region by 2020. IDC predicts that APAC will nearly close the gap with EMEA by 2020 in AI revenue.

Will a robot take over my job? 

While an AI personal assistant that makes restaurant reservations for you is swell, developments in AI will have much wider impact. The question on everyone’s mind is, will automation make human workers redundant? Forrester forecasts that cognitive technologies such as robots, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation will replace 7 percent of US jobs by 2025. Assocham predicts that up to 10 million (one crore) jobs might be taken over by artificial intelligence or robots during the course of next five years.

But it’s not all black and white. Forrester says that the cognitive era will create 8.9 million new jobs in the US by 2025. The jobs would mainly include robot monitoring professionals, data scientists, automation specialists, and content curators.  

However, the hammer will come down hardest on the office and administrative support staff, says the research firm.