China's 19-year-old Go player Ke Jie reacts during the second match against Google's artificial intelligence programme AlphaGo in Wuzhen, eastern China's Zhejiang province on May 25, 2017. Artificial intelligence is firmly embedded throughout the economy. Financial services firms use it to provide investment advice to customers, automakers are using it in vehicle autopilot systems, technology companies are using it to create virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri, and retailers are using artificial intelligence (AI) together with customers' prior sales histories, to predict potential purchases in the future, to name but a few examples. The potential of AI to boost economic growth has been discussed in numerous forums, including by Accenture, the Council on Foreign Relations, the McKinsey Global Institute, the World Economic Forum, and President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, among others. The most dramatic advances in AI are coming from a data-intensive technique known as machine learning.
The Pentagon is set to award a $10bn "war cloud" contract to a technology company next month, with both Amazon and Microsoft competing for the chance to build a military-grade AI computing system. The Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure (Jedi) plan faces a number of obstacles before the US defence department makes its decision next month, not least from within the companies' own work forces. Microsoft employees published an open letter on Medium last year, pleading the tech giant to not bid on the Jedi contract. "Many Microsoft employees don't believe that what we build should be used for waging war," they wrote. We'll tell you what's true.