It’s in movies, terrorizing our cities. It’s in cars, driving autonomously. It’s even on Facebook, recognizing our faces. It’s emerging artificial intelligence. The impressive technology has begun to infiltrate our lives in ways only dreamed about. But has it come too quickly? Is the technology too advanced? Some execs at Google and Amazon think so.
Amazon entered into the AI scene last year. The leader of AI initiatives at AWS, Swami Sivasubramanian, explained that the need came through customer requests to help build AI systems. “We consistently heard they wanted to learn from the machine-learning scientists who built these capabilities for Amazon.com,” Sivasubramanian said. In other words, it’s an emerging artificial intelligence consulting firm.
Amazon wasn’t alone in launching their emerging artificial intelligence consultant shop. Google also got into the business last year. It’s called The Machine Learning Advanced Solutions Lab. Insurer USAA used Google’s consulting firm on one of their projects, learning from the actual AI engineers who built the software and systems.
This tells us that AI is in such an infancy stage, that buyers of AI software don’t even know how to use it yet. Rob Koplowitz, tracks cloud AI for Forrester and explains it bluntly, “The gating factor is people don’t know how to do this stuff. There needs to be some hand-holding here in the early stages.”
The shortage of experts on artificial intelligence means that all of the brain power of developing the actual software is devoted to the research companies. Selling the software isn’t the problem. It’s the buyers who are having issues. This is because the buyers aren’t attracting the Ivy league PhD’s to their companies. Google, Amazon and IBM are snatching all the talent.
It’s the same problem that small market professional sports teams have. When a free agent has his picking of teams to go to, location plays a major factor. If you were going to sign a multi-million dollar contract, would you rather sign in Minneapolis or Los Angeles? Miami or Indianapolis? Exactly. The same is true for the creators of AI when you tell them, “Silicon Valley or Oklahoma City?” There simply aren’t enough developers to go around and currently, the tech is too complex for businesses to utilize.
A Microsoft exec also made this point at a conference this past year. “We are right now in terms of enterprise application of machine learning and AI concepts in an in-between spot,” explained Peter Lee, vice president of Microsoft’s research division. “AI is not a technology that has been reduced to practice; we have a small and highly paid cadre of craftsmen building the bespoke solutions.”
Microsoft and Amazon are both trying to help the problem by offering their own consulting services. Microsoft is providing online courses that will constitute an emerging artificial intelligence school. Meanwhile, Amazon is selling a camera called DeepLens for $250 that will help developers with machine learning and Amazon’s AI technology. This particular device has already gained some buzz through AI conferences and implementation at universities.