Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t like other technology breakthroughs.
It’s what economists call a general purpose technology. General purpose technologies are a big deal because they not only change how we work and live through their direct contribution to society, their spill-over effects also enable a vast range of complimentary innovations.
Think about how electricity enabled factory electrification, telegraphic communication, and all that followed. Or how the internal combustion engine gave rise to the automobile, the airplane, and modern transportation and logistics networks. AI will impact our lives on a similar scale.
Private investment is booming. Venture capital investment for the first nine months of 2017 totaled $7.6 billion. The registration of AI patents is at an all-time high, five times the figure in 2006. And in the US, the number of AI start-ups has increased by twenty times in just four years.
Governments and academic institutions are also investing heavily. In the United Kingdom, it’s reckoned AI could unlock £630 billion for the country's economy. Five leading UK universities have also come together to create the Alan Turing Institute, the UK's national institute for data science and artificial intelligence.
The bottom line? AI is here. It’s a big deal. And it’s taking digital disruption to a completely new level.