Acquisitions of startups by two industry giants were announced this week, suggesting the attention generated by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is accelerating.
First, Siri is saying hello to Turi. More specifically, Apple has acquired the AI and machine learning startup, for $200 million. Turi, which is headquartered in Seattle, offers tools that help developers scale machine learning applications, according to InformationWeek. The story says that Apple offered no substantive comment on the acquisition other than to say that it periodically acquires companies and doesn’t discuss the reasons for those moves.
Despite Apple’s lack of comment, Turi is further evidence of Apple’s existing interest in AI. Last October, the company bought Perceptio, which offers deep learning and AI capabilities. VocalIQ, another acquisition, is aimed, according to the InformationWeek story, at facilitating “more natural communication between humans and computers” which is a key to implementing AI.
Also this week, Intel reportedly agreed to acquire Nervana, a two-year-old company. The story says that Nervana offers an all-around machine learning system that extends from an open-sourced software platform to a planned customized chip. Nervana’s uses are equally as flexible: It can analyze seismic data, find promising places to drill for oil, and research genomes for new hybrids.
Intel believes that the age of AI is here and that a specialized chip, presumably along the lines of what Nervana is planning, will be necessary. According to the Fortune story:
After transitioning from mainframes to PCs to servers to cloud-based data centers, computing is about to make another transition, says Intel vice president Jason Waxman, who runs the data center solutions group. ‘Right now, we’re on the precipice of the next big wave, artificial intelligence,’ he tells Fortune. ‘We’re already seeing real deployments.’
AI’s use is growing, according to a report from NarrativeScience, which was based on a survey of 235 business leaders. Sixty-two percent of respondents “could not confirm use of AI technologies,” while 38 percent reported that they are using the technology. At the same time, 88 percent of those who said that they don’t know whether they are using AI turn out to be doing so. Predictive analytics, which is made far more feasible via AI, is used by 58 percent of respondents.
AI seems to be new, though it has been around for a long time. Its uses are proliferating due to the growth of cloud computing, Big Data capabilities, the Internet of Things (IoT) and faster computing. AI is simply an ever-more powerful and ubiquitous tool. Apple, Intel and others don’t want to be left behind.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at [email protected] and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.