TWO letters can add up to a lot of money. No area of technology is hotter than AI, or artificial intelligence. Venture-capital investment in AI in the first nine months of 2017 totalled $7.6bn, according to PitchBook, a data provider; that compares with full-year figures of $5.4bn in 2016. In the year to date there have been $21.3bn in AI-related M&A deals, around 26 times more than in 2015. In earnings calls public companies now mention AI far more often than “big data”.
At the heart of the frenzy are some familiar names: the likes of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. A similar, though less transparent, battle is under way in China among firms like Alibaba and Baidu. Several have put AI at the centre of their strategies. All are enthusiastic acquirers of AI firms, often in order to snap up the people they employ.
Read more: The battle in AI