Artificial intelligence is infiltrating every industry, allowing vehicles to navigate without drivers, assisting doctors with medical diagnoses, and mimicking the way humans speak. But for all the authentic and exciting ways it's transforming the tasks computers can perform, there's a lot of hype, too. As Jeremy Achin, CEO of newly minted unicorn DataRobot, puts it: "Everyone knows you have to have machine learning in your story or you're not sexy." The inherently broad term gets bandied about so often that it can start to feel meaningless and can be trotted out by companies to gussy up even simple data analysis. To help cut through the noise, Forbes and data partner Meritech Capital put together a list of private, U.S.-based companies that are wielding some subset of artificial intelligence in a meaningful way and demonstrating real business potential from doing so. One makes robots that can whir around shoppers to help workers restock shelves. Another scans recruiting pitches for unconscious bias. A third analyzes massive data sets to make street-by-street weather predictions. To be included on the list, companies needed to show that techniques like machine learning (where systems learn from data to improve on tasks), natural language processing (which enables programs to "understand" written or spoken language), or computer vision (which relates to how machines "see") are a core part of their business model and future success. Find all the details on our methodology here.
Examples of artificial intelligence (AI) in pop culture usually involve a pack of intelligent robots hell-bent on overthrowing the human race, or at least a fancy theme park. Sentient machines with general artificial intelligence don't yet exist, and they likely won't exist anytime soon, so we're safe... for now. That's not to make light of AI's potential impact on our future. In a recent survey, more than 72% of Americans expressed worry about a future in which machines perform many human jobs. Additionally, tech billionaire Elon Musk, long an advocate for the regulation of artificial intelligence, recently called AI more dangerous than nukes. Whether we realize it or not, artificial intelligence is all around us and playing an active role in our daily lives. Every time we open our Facebook newsfeed, do a Google search, get a product recommendation from Amazon or book a trip online, AI is lurking in the background.
Google's AlphaGo made history in May 2017 when it defeated Ke Jie, the world's reigning champion of the ancient Chinese game Go. It was the first computer program to defeat a professional human Go player, much less a world champion. Later that year, Google introduced AlphaGo Zero, an even more powerful iteration of AlphaGo. Anyone wanting to understand the difference between artificial intelligence and deep learning can start by understanding the difference between AlphaGo and AlphaGo Zero. With AlphaGo, Google trained the original AlphaGo to play by teaching it to look at data from the top players, said Avi Reichental, CEO of XponentialWorks.
Artificial Intelligence is an increasingly popular term that lacks a unified, concrete definition. Nils J Nilsson, one of the founding researchers in the field of AI gave us one: "Artificial intelligence is that activity devoted to making machines intelligent, and intelligence is that quality that enables an entity to function appropriately and with foresight in its environment."