A Very Brief History of Modern Artificial Intelligence
The history of modern AI has a lot to tell us about where the field is going—and how we can benefit from it.
That's the takeaway from New York Times reporter Cade Metz's talk at the Marketing AI Conference (MAICON) 2021.
In the talk, Metz previewed his book Genius Makers: The Mavericks Who Brought AI to Google, Facebook and the World.
The book presents a comprehensive overview of the history of AI, including its early history and how that led us to today.
The book is well worth reading. Here's a (very) brief history of modern AI to get you started...
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Until the late 1990s, AI was in a prolonged “winter” where funding and interest in the technology dried up. There wasn’t much happening in the world of AI, and there was a general sense of disillusionment with AI’s failure to live up to the hype.
Things began to change around 2012, says Metz.
In that year, AI became one of the top things that WIRED, where Metz worked at the time, covered. The change happened suddenly as AI took off.
Why 2012? That was the year new breakthroughs in deep learning, an advanced form of AI, took place—moving the field forward.
In the coming years, AI powered by deep learning caused breakthrough after breakthrough.
One notable development occurred in 2016, when an AI system beat the human world champion at Go, a game considered harder and more complex than chess. It was a feat most experts thought would take decades to accomplish.
After the Go match, which Metz covered in Sourh Korea, he decided to write Genius Makers.
It follows Geoff Hinton, whose team built the deep learning AI system that caused the field’s resurgence in 2012.
It also follows Denis Hassabis, cofounder of DeepMind, the AI company that won the game of Go.
Between these two monumental developments, some of the biggest tech companies on Earth took notice.
An arms race for AI talent and tech ensued, with Hinton, Hassabis, and their teams—as well as many other AI pros—being paid princely sums to work for the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft.
As a result, over the past decade, advanced AI has moved out of the research lab and into real-world commercial applications that are starting to transform business and life as we know it.
These AI developments include everything from smart speakers and self-driving cars to AI systems that can detect tumors better than doctors.
What started as a few brilliant minds laboring in obscurity to crack the AI code is now a field that is estimated to have trillions in economic impact annually.
And we're just getting started.
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