Google’s Go-playing artificial intelligence software made headlines last month when it managed to beat Grandmaster Lee Se-dol at his own game.
The win sparked new public interest in AI, a technology that has long been promised, but hasn’t been mastered. As it turns out, the tech sector has been working furiously on changing the way we compute without making huge waves about how much headway they’ve already made.
A Silent Platform War
Although hotly contended in the deep reaches of the tech sector, the ongoing AI platform war is barely spoken of elsewhere. Like in the early days of computing, when a stand-out operating system had yet to be perfected, today’s platform war is all about developing the best and most useful platform for an artificial intelligence system.
Long-established tech companies are approaching the problem from a number of angles. For example, IBM’s Watson AI was developed with the intention of being tailored to specific industries and applications, like Ross Intelligence’s smart legal assistant. Along with the start-up, IBM has around 500 industry partners of all sizes who are involved with software development using Watson.
Amazon and Microsoft both have added machine learning designed to help customers make better use of massive amounts of data to their cloud software platforms. Microsoft’s AI includes 18 machine learning services, including facial recognition, text analysis and product recommendations.
Facebook Joins In On The Action
Even Facebook is jumping on the AI bandwagon by developing a smart image-recognition software that’s being used to help feed better and more accurate content to users. In the past, images were unreadable to Facebook’s software – it simply could not decode them. But with the help of the new AI, Facebook can now tell the difference between an apple and an Apple.
Market research firm IDC estimates only about one percent of today’s software applications utilize some form of AI, but by 2018 at least half will include AI features. That’s a huge potential battleground up for grabs. Whether it’ll be won by a single contender, like Microsoft-dominated the operating system wars, or by various developers working on different niches, remains to be seen.