As a recent article in the Wall Street Journal points out, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming one of the most important technological advances of our era. It uses statistical methods and very large datasets to identify patterns and predict outcomes, but it still has a ways to go before it can identify cause-and-effect relationships. Being able to do this, however, just may represent the next frontier in AI. According to the Wall Street Journal article, determining causal relationships requires tried and true scientific, empirical and measurable methods that can "detect faint signals within large and/or noisy data sets -- the proverbial needle in a haystack." It's one thing to use statistical methods and very large data sets to find patterns that, for example, can identify the presence of a mass on an Xray, but it's another thing entirely to identify how a specific treatment will affect the outcome.