01 October 2018
The popular Super Bowl commercial laid out a tongue-in-cheek crisis in the future of AI. Amazon.com's (AMZN) digital assistant Alexa loses her voice. What to do in a world dependent on artificial intelligence in business and at home?
Enter a series of stand-ins, including actor Anthony Hopkins, who goes into creepy Hannibal Lecter mode and unnerves the people he's supposed to help. Thankfully, Alexa recovers her digital voice and restores order. AI proves its value.
Corporate America is on the cusp of a plunge into this future of AI in business. And giant technology companies — which stand to benefit by both harnessing their own artificial intelligence applications and helping other companies make the leap — are immersed in it now.
Artificial intelligence innovations are well along at Amazon, Google-parent Alphabet (GOOGL), Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT). Alexa, found on Amazon's Echo devices, is just one example. Digital aides like Google's aptly named Assistant on its Home smart speaker and Apple's Siri on its Home Pod can help with shopping, entertainment, school work, and other tasks.
Tech companies also are busy at work on deploying AI in self-driving cars. And companies ranging from giant IBM (IBM) and Oracle (ORCL) to a wave of startups are competing for talent and technology so they can cash in as AI spreads to non-tech enterprises.
Outside Silicon Valley, companies are dipping a tentative toe into AI. Surveys show that most companies plan to evaluate how artificial intelligence can make them better, whether in making sales forecasts, automating tasks now done manually, improving existing products or enabling new ones. Budgets could more than triple in the next few years.
"There's a lot of interest and experimentation; companies are still in the proof-of-concept, project phase," said Nicholas McGuire, vice president of enterprise research at CCS Insight. "We'll see more deployment in about one or two years."