Without the Sputnik moment and the Cold War, the technology itself might not have come into focus or as fully formed. Thanks to advancements from Atari to Microsoft, we have devices almost everywhere that can crunch numbers, express emotions and handle all sorts of functions. Computers are everywhere—nearly omnipresent even—and, thanks to apps and bots, we can interact with them in new ways.
One reason is that computing power is accelerating. On average, computers can now do things twice as fast as a decade ago. A list of A.I. developments from the past year or so follows. What’s ahead this year?
There is no shortage of A.I. companies and A.I. patents. But their fortunes have closely mirrored the global economy, especially the financial one. If the idea was to produce a new, marketable idea, that process has failed so far. Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Alibaba have risen. All are dependent on the money generated from businesses that have been out to sea for as long as they can remember.
Other problems crop up, too, which A.I. can’t solve. Courts have long had to decide how much evidence can be gathered in a sealed warrant, and (especially in the current legal climate) whether it’s worth the cost of eavesdropping on communications across an entire country, which can often be impractical. Judges are still tinkering with our privacy rights. And the A.I.s themselves, while sometimes helpful, can seem complex and difficult to master. They may also strike their users as annoying.