Here’s a roundup that AI-Acess put together with a review of the big tech companies and what they are working on in AI
The shared it with me on Twitter and I thought it would be good to share with you
What Powerful CEOs Think About AI
An elite group of powerful CEOs are obsessing about it. Sundar Pichai (Google), Tim Cook (Apple), Satya Nadella (Microsoft), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and Akio Toyoda (Toyota); they are all making huge bets on Artificial Intelligence. Why? It may come to determine the future power and wealth of their corporations.
Power and resources go hand in hand. The Oxford dictionary defines power as “the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events”. The current arms race in Artificial Intelligence is anticipated to bend the arc of history, and define our collective futures. Winners of the race will accumulate an unprecedented share of the world’s collective resources.
“We’re trying to build more than 1.5 billion AI agents-one for every person who uses Facebook or any of its products”
In Forbes list of the most valuable brands in the world, an astonishing 7 out of the Top 10 are already investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence. It is very likely that other CEOs will follow. This article summarizes what powerful CEOs are currently thinking and doing about Artificial Intelligence.
The world’s most valuable brand in 2016 is Apple ($154.1 B). Although Apple’s business is shrouded in secrets, CEO Tim Cook is transparent on why he is betting on AI: “Look at the core technologies that make up the smartphone today and look at the ones that will be dominant in smartphones of the future-like AI” he tells the Washington Post. “AI will make this product even more essential to you” he adds. “The typical customer is going to experience deep learning on a day-to-day level that [exemplifies] what you love about an Apple product” says Phil Schiller, senior worldwide marketing vice president of Apple.
Google ($82.5 B) has been a first mover in the AI space. Google (now Alphabet) surprised the world with its AI investments earlier this decade. CEO Sundar Pichaiexplains: “We have this vision of a shift from mobile-first to an AI-first world over many years.” In the Forbes interview, he also explains how Google’s recent AI products are only a first step in a radical transformation of computing and of Google itself. “That scale is what really excites me, be it in fields like healthcare, financial services, education, how you teach people better, climate modeling. I think that’s a huge opportunity.”
Not wanting to fall behind its competitors, Microsoft ($75.2 B) is also undergoing a large transformation. CEO Satya Nadella said that: “AI is at the intersection of our ambitions” at a recent Microsoft conference. Quartz describes how Nadella reiterated the company’s “commitment to infuse every part of Microsoft’s business, from cloud services to Microsoft Word, with some kind of AI.” Microsoft has established an AI and Research Group with 5,000 computer scientists, engineers and others who will be“focused on the company’s AI product efforts”.
Close on their heels is Facebook ($52.6 B) which has moved rapidly on AI, spurred on by its founder. Facebook started its first AI lab back in 2013. Since then, it has only expanded the scope; AI is quickly becoming critical for the customer experience of Facebook’s core product: “We’re trying to build more than 1.5 billion AI agents-one for every person who uses Facebook or any of its products,” says Joaquin Candela, the head of its Applied Machine Learning group, in a Fortune article.
Mark Zuckerberg himself has high ambitions for AI. As a personal challenge for 2016, Facebook is this year creating an AI that can control your smart home. Thinking even bigger yet, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, plan to invest $3 billion over the next decade to help scientists develop and utilize tools such as artificial intelligence to“cure, prevent or manage all disease”.
The world’s sixth most valuable brand Toyota ($42.1 B) is also committed. Toyota has placed a $1 billion bet in its AI research. CEO Akio Toyoda explains: “The funding of the Toyota Research Institute is equal to what we spent developing the first [hybrid car] Prius, so we are serious about what we intend to accomplish”. The mission is to make car accidents a thing of the past. “Though not widely known, Toyota has been working on the development of autonomous cars for many years”, he told reporters.
IBM ($41.4 B) has been very explicit about the company’s investments in artificial intelligence. “It’s the dawn of a new era”, CEO Ginni Rometty explains to Fortune at the Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C. “Every product, every service, how you run your company -can actually have a piece that learns, that thinks, is a part of it”. IBM has famously branded its cognitive services Watson, after its first CEO, Thomas J. Watson. “Artificial intelligenceâ‚¬Â¦it’s been around for decades, but with Watson, we unleashed it.” IBM has created a business around Watson, partnering with corporations to infuse offerings and services with AI. “Instead of being the disrupted, you are the disruptor”, says Rometty.
The world’s tenth most valuable brand, GE ($36.7 B) is also undergoing a major transformation. CEO Jeff Immelt explains: “[It is] my own belief that every industrial company has to be a software and analytics company. That you’re going to wake up in five or 10 years and GE’s going to have $15 billion in software and analytics. We’re about $5 billion today.” GE recently announced a partnership with Microsoft to merge its Industrial Internet platform Predix with the AI cloud solutions of Microsoft. “Those same customers will now have access to additional capabilities such as natural language technology, artificial intelligence”, according to the partnership press release.
An expanding source of power
Bold statements from powerful CEOs are an indicator of what will happen next. AI has established itself as a source of sustainable competitive advantage, and an enabler of growth through diversification. Following the increasing digitalization of many industries, the reach of AI is expanding -and with this development, so is the power of those who harness it.
Having followed the development of Artificial Intelligence, I am impressed at how quickly the largest corporations have adopted the technologies. Any CEO who wishes to follow this path will encounter a series of obstacles, including scarcity of expert know-how and talent, costly R&D, external partnerships and dependencies, global platform implementations and training programs, evolving strategic dilemmas and trade-offs, and legacy models and practices. Still, choosing not to move may -in the end -prove to be an even greater threat against shareholder value.
With great power comes also great responsibility. I strongly urge CEOs and board members to consider how AI can be applied to the benefit of our society. There are many potential uses of the new technologies. Many of them are positive, while others are not -and the grey areas are plentiful. I truly hope that individuals in possession of power and resources will grasp this opportunity to inflict positive change, and steer the development in a sustainable direction -for shareholders, corporations and global citizens alike.