Reports surfaced in China on Thursday that Google’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) research group has again beat some of the best Go players in an online tournament. Go is widely considered one of the toughest strategy games to play as each move has roughly 250 choices. However, DeepMind, Google’s AI program, has repeated beaten the masters over the past year.
In talking about the recent victories, DeepMind founder, Demis Hassabis, tweeted that many of the games were played with ‘fast time controls’. As such, these were speed games, which would benefit only the most experienced players. Or in this case, a supercomputer.
According to a report from Venture Beat, one Chinese player offered a reward of $14,300 (100,000 Chinese Yuan) to the player who could beat one of DeepMind’s usernames.
While the game playing is well and good, DeepMind is involved in several initiatives at Google. In fact, the research team has published multiple papers to the scientific community including a paper published by Nature in October of last year on the hybrid computing. Whilst the paper is meant for an academic audience it points out how AI is moving beyond the research lab and into the real world.
One company which is at the forefront of this push is IBM. The company’s Watson supercomputer when it defeated a host of Jeopardy champions in 2011. Fast forward five years and Big Blue’s AI initiative is currently working with cancer specialists around the world to help diagnose and treat patients.
IBM has also partnered with companies such as Pfizer for drug research, The Weather Channel, BMW, and several technology companies. The approach has been so positive that IBM has opened up Watson to just about anyone through its Bluemix suite of tools.
AI is quickly becoming big business. In July 2016, CB Insights, a research firm which tracks venture capital investments, noted that the more than $1 billion in funding flowed into AI companies of last year. The amount was an all-time high and while the number of transactions were down the average deal size was up.This shows that several AI companies are quickly maturing and many of them have already deployed their technology in the market.
According to IDC, nearly half of all consumers will have regular contact with AI-enabled programs by 2018. This is already happening in several industries, especially banking and finance. Last year the RBS installed an AI program in its customer service department and large U.S. banks such as Goldman Sachs and J.P.Morgan have made significant investments in the technology.
As such, AI is quickly moving beyond hype and along with other emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as Google Home have the potential to be big business.