December 1, 2015

What is AI, and who has it?

This is part of a four post series spanning two blogs.

1. “Artificial intelligence” is a term that usually means one or more of:

But that covers a lot of ground, especially since reasonable people might disagree as to what constitutes “smart”.

2. Examples of what has been called “AI” include:

That last bit is awkward, as IBM is doing the industry a major disservice via its recklessly confusing Watson marketing, which is instantiating Monash’s First Law of Commercial Semantics — Bad jargon drowns out good. I suspect there’s an interesting debate under it all, in which IBM stands almost alone against the whole rest of the industry by sticking to the old academic belief that sophisticated knowledge representation is the key to AI. But it’s hard to be sure, because IBM’s Watson marketing is so full of smoke that reality, if any, doesn’t show through.

3. When I think of present-day AI commercialization, what comes to mind is mainly:

So with one big exception, commercial AI seems to be concentrated at a small number of behemoth companies. The exception is machine learning itself, which is being adopted and developed on a much broader basis.

4. AngelList seems to say I’m wrong, citing 576 different AI startups. CrunchBase offers 436 AI startups. So maybe some of those startups will succeed. We’ll see.

5. Some of the reasons for AI’s concentrated industry structure lie in general business and economics.

Yes, those reasons are somewhat counteracted by the facts that:

But I think they apply even so. And by the way — to date, most AI companies have not been acquired for very high prices.

6. Some of the reasons for AI industry concentration are more specifically technological.

My paradigmatic example for the latter point is Google with anything connected to search, such as translation (which it does of search results) or natural language recognition (which it does of search queries).

If you want to do an AI startup, those are some of the competitive factors that you need to beat.

Related links


5 Responses to “What is AI, and who has it?”

  1. Machine learning’s connection to (the rest of) AI | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on December 1st, 2015 4:28 am

    […] One post gives a general present-day overview of the artificial intelligence business. […]

  2. Historical notes on artificial intelligence | Software Memories on December 1st, 2015 4:30 am

    […] One post gives a general present-day overview of the artificial intelligence business. […]

  3. AI memories — expert systems | Software Memories on December 3rd, 2015 12:59 am

    […] One post gives a general present-day overview of the artificial intelligence business. […]

  4. Notes on anomaly management | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services – Cloud Data Architect on October 11th, 2016 1:34 am

    […] Artificial intelligence is famously hard to define for similar reasons. […]

  5. Notes on artificial intelligence, December 2017 | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on December 12th, 2017 1:53 pm

    […] of my comments about artificial intelligence in December, 2015 still hold true. But there are a few points I’d like to add, reiterate or […]

Leave a Reply

Feed: DBMS (database management system), DW (data warehousing), BI (business intelligence), and analytics technology Subscribe to the Monash Research feed via RSS or email:


Search our blogs and white papers

Monash Research blogs

User consulting

Building a short list? Refining your strategic plan? We can help.

Vendor advisory

We tell vendors what's happening -- and, more important, what they should do about it.

Monash Research highlights

Learn about white papers, webcasts, and blog highlights, by RSS or email.