Newspaper article International New York Times

Silicon Valley Looks to Artificial Intelligence for Next Big Thing ; Machine Learning Is Set to Transform the Way Businesses Crunch Data

Newspaper article International New York Times

Silicon Valley Looks to Artificial Intelligence for Next Big Thing ; Machine Learning Is Set to Transform the Way Businesses Crunch Data

Article excerpt

Tech's new architecture melds large computing clouds and artificial intelligence to create efficient computing resources and data-based businesses.

As the oracles of Silicon Valley debate whether the latest tech boom is sliding toward bust, there is already talk about what will drive the industry's next growth spurt.

The way we use computing is changing, toward a boom (and, if history is any guide, a bubble) in collecting oceans of data in so- called cloud computing centers, then analyzing the information to build new businesses.

The terms most often associated with this are "machine learning" and "artificial intelligence," or "A.I." And the creations spawned by this market could affect things ranging from globe-spanning computer systems to how you pay at the cafeteria.

"There is going to be a boom for design companies, because there's going to be so much information people have to work through quickly," said Diane B. Greene, senior vice president for Google's enterprise businesses. "Just teaching companies how to use A.I. will be a big business."

This kind of change is what keeps Silicon Valley going. When personal computers displaced mainframe computers, it opened the door not just for Apple, but for companies making PC software for business, games and publishing. In the networking and Internet revolutions, venture capitalists invested in these new computing styles, and another generation of companies was born.

Over the last decade, smartphones, social networks and cloud computing have moved from feeding the growth of companies like Facebook and Twitter, leapfrogging to Uber, Airbnb and others that have used the phones, personal rating systems and powerful remote computers in the cloud to create their own new businesses.

Believe it or not, that stuff may be heading for the rearview mirror already. The tech industry's new architecture is based not just on the giant public computing clouds of Google, Microsoft and Amazon, but also on their A.I. capabilities. These clouds create more efficient and supple use of computing resources, available for rent. Smaller clouds used in corporate systems are designed to connect to them.

The A.I. resources Ms. Greene is opening up at Google are remarkable. Google's autocomplete feature, which most of us use when doing a search, can instantaneously touch 500 computers as it guesses what we are looking for. Services like Maps and Photos have over a billion users, sorting places and faces by computer. Gmail sifts through 1.4 petabytes of data, or roughly two billion books' worth of information, every day. …

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