December 18, 2017

Artificial Intelligence is the Epicenter of Web 3.0

A friend recently noted that the current version of internet, which is often referred as Web 2.0, has matured. Such maturity has led to a stagnation in the production of innovative products and services by startups and large corporations alike. Following his observation, which I happen to agree with, he asked, "What is next for the internet?"

In an article published by the New York Times in 2006, John Markoff wrote, "From the billions of documents that form the World Wide Web and the links that weave them together, computer scientists and a growing collection of start-up companies are finding new ways to mine human intelligence."

The goal of the computer scientists, says Mr. Markoff, "is to add a layer of meaning on top of the existing Web that would make it less of a catalog and more of a guide — and even provide the foundation for systems that can reason in a human fashion. That level of artificial intelligence, with machines doing the thinking instead of simply following commands, has eluded researchers for more than half a century."

"Referred to as Web 3.0," notes Mr. Markoff, "the effort is in its infancy, and the very idea has given rise to skeptics who have called it an unobtainable vision. But the underlying technologies are rapidly gaining adherents, at big companies like I.B.M. and Google as well as small ones. Their projects often center on simple, practical uses, from producing vacation recommendations to predicting the next hit song."

11 years later, The Economist published an article about the race to dominate artificial intelligence (AI). "An exponential increase in the availability of digital data, the force of computing power and the brilliance of algorithms has fueled excitement about this formerly obscure corner of computer science," the article explains. "The West's largest tech firms, including Alphabet (Google's parent), Amazon, Apple, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft are investing huge sums to develop their AI capabilities, as are their counterparts in China. Although it is difficult to separate tech firms' investments in AI from other kinds, so far in 2017 companies globally have completed around $21.3bn in mergers and acquisitions related to AI, according to PitchBook, a data provider, or around 26 times more than in 2015."

I agree with the assertion that "over the next several years, large tech firms are going to go head-to-head in three ways. They will continue to compete for talent to help train their corporate 'brains'; they will try to apply machine learning to their existing businesses more effectively than rivals; and they will try to create new profit centers with the help of AI."

The Dec. 7, 2017 article continues to explain how AI will be used in machine learning, autonomous driving, augmented reality (AR).

In addition, the article importantly notes:
Artificial intelligence is also being applied in the corporate world. David Kenny, the boss of Watson, IBM’s AI platform, predicts that there will be "two AIs": companies that profit from offering AI-infused services to consumers and others which offer them to businesses. In practice, the two worlds meet because of the tech giants' cloud-computing arms. Providers are competing to use AI as a way to differentiate their offerings and lock in customers. The three largest—Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Azure and Google Cloud—offer application-programming interfaces (APIs) that provide machine-learning capabilities to other companies. Microsoft's cloud offering, Azure, for example, helped Uber build a verification tool that asks drivers to take a selfie to confirm their identities when they work. Google Cloud offers a "jobs API," which helps companies match jobseekers with the best positions.
As for augmented reality, "Mobile apps like Snap, a messaging app, and the game Pokémon Go are early examples of AR. But AR could more radically transform people's relationship with the internet, so that they consume digital information not from a small screen but via an ambient, ever-present experience. AR devices will offer portable AI capabilities, such as simultaneous translation and facial recognition."

We have embarked upon the Web 3.0. What are your predictions for the application of artificial intelligence?

Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

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