Whether it’s stealing our jobs or helping us diagnose disease, artificial intelligence is going to have a huge impact on the future of humanity. Research on how to make machines learn and think like people is one of the hottest areas of technology right now, but some companies are clearly at the forefront. Here are the five companies making the biggest contributions to AI right now.
Google has invested heavily in AI research. In fact, almost every publication coming out of Google’s research arm right now has something to do with neural networks. The company’s work has led to awesome user-facing features like Google Assistant, Google Photos, and HDR+ photography. Knowing there’s a shortage of engineers with the training to build these systems, Google has even rolled out a DIY cloud AI platform for developers called AutoML. Its TensorFlow AI platform is fast becoming an industry standard.
Who can forget Watson’s appearance on Jeopardy back in 2011? The AI trounced the human players, but that’s not why IBM created it. Watson is a collection of algorithms for understanding natural language and processing massive amounts of data in fields like healthcare and cybersecurity. IBM doesn’t have the same user-facing profile it once did, but businesses could use the Watson platform a lot in the future.
While DeepMind is technically part of Google, it’s operated as an independent entity and focuses on pure research. It’s also responsible for some of the most impressive feats of AI engineering from a purely scientific standpoint. DeepMind researchers succeeded in building an AI that could defeat the world’s best Go players, and many thought that game would be too complicated for a machine ever to win. It’s also developed better voice synthesis and taught AI to navigate a parkour course.
Microsoft used to focus on making software for desktop computers, and that’s still the bulk of its business. However, the company has gone all-in on artificial intelligence. It wants to make Windows an AI-centric product. It even worked with Facebook to create the Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX) standard for AI code. It also offers the Azure Machine Learning Workbench as an alternative to Google’s AutoML. Microsoft’s Xiaoice chatbot has also been a huge hit in China, where it forecasts weather and interacts with users on Weibo.