GAFA: AI Is the Future

However scary or exciting AI may seem to different categories of population, it is an inevitable future. AI has been successfully applied across industries that previously have been human-heavy. Wealth management, investment management, advising, insurance, the practice of law and other spheres are seeing an active intervention of artificial intelligence and will be transforming in response to the opportunities it offers.

Some of the most passionate fans of AI are tech and media companies. They have incentives, desires, financial and human resources to move the industry forward and bring AI into the everyday life of an average consumer. Companies like Google and Facebook are expected to go heavy on AI in 2016 and forward.

Less than a week ago, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, sent this year’s founders’ letter, emphasizing the power of machine learning and AI.

Mr. Pichai draws attention to the role of AI in the great achievements of the company, saying, A key driver behind all of this work has been our long-term investment in machine learning and AI. It’s what allows you to use your voice to search for information, to translate the Web from one language to another, to filter the spam from your inbox, to search for hugs in your photos and actually pull up pictures of people hugging... To solve many of the problems we encounter in daily life.

Explaining the meaning of the recent victory of Google’s DeepMind in AlphaGo, Mr. Pichai said, This is another important step toward creating artificial intelligence that can help us in everything from accomplishing our daily tasks and travels, to eventually tackling even bigger challenges like climate change and cancer diagnosis.

Most importantly, Google’s leader has emphasized the transformation of technology in the face of advanced AI.

Looking to the future, the next big step will be for the very concept of the device to fade away. Over time, the computer itself—whatever its form factor—will be an intelligent assistant helping you through your day. We will move from mobile first to an AI-first world.

Moreover, Google strongly believes and invests in cloud computing, where machine learning, intelligent office productivity tools are developed and deployed. Cloud is believed to be more secure and more cost-effective and will allow taking full advantage of the latest developments.

Supporting Mr. Pichai in his belief in AI, Eric Schmidt has also shared the significance of investments in AI for Alphabet and millions of people, I can’t quantify our investment into AI, but it will eventually be embedded in everything, he said. It started small, with hundreds of people and now we have thousands. It’s a very significant investment. The growing team in this area will form the core of the company, Schmidt said. They’re not in cul de sacs, they’re building things that will touch millions and millions of people.

Facebook, another global giant, is also expected to go heavy on AI and a strong belief in the importance of artificial intelligence in humanity’s future.

In his note published last Friday, Mark Zuckerberg has shared his vision for the future and the areas of focus for the company, saying, When I look out at the future, I see more bold moves ahead of us than behind us. We’re focused not on what Facebook is today, but on what it can be, and what it needs to be for our community. That means investing in areas like spreading connectivity, building artificial intelligence and developing virtual and augmented reality.

The CEO of Facebook expressed a belief in the ability of AI to surpass humans in basic senses, So the biggest thing that we're focused on with artificial intelligence is building computer services that have better perception than people. So the basic human senses like seeing, hearing, language, kind of core things that we do, I think it's possible to get to the point in the next five to 10 years where we have computer systems that are better than people at each of those things. That doesn't mean that the computers will be thinking or be generally better. But that is useful for a number of things.

Apple, along with Google and Facebook, is also carefully slipping into the AI space. However, the company seems to choose a different strategy. Recently, Apple acquired two AI startups: Emotient (now Affective) and Vocal IQ.

AI startups acquisitions are not the first moves in AI by Apple. In fact, the company has filed a patent in 2014 with US Patent and Trademark Office on Inferring user mood based on user and group characteristic data. However, Apple in the GAFA team is probably in a catching up position now. Although, the deal on Vocal IQ is an important and big move from the company.

Vocal IQ introduced the world’s first self-learning dialogue API – putting real, natural conversation between people and their devices. Every time your application is used, it gets a little bit smarter. Previous conversations are central to its learning process – allowing the system to better understand future requests and in turn, react more intelligently, as the solution was described in this Forbes article.