2016 – Roundups on AI/Cognitive Computing

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As the days finally start to get longer and the year comes to a close, the trade press, and even the broader media, have a hard time resisting the urge to sum up what’s gone on in the past twelve months, and sometimes to look ahead.

For AI and Cognitive Computing, 2016 proved to be a breakout year in a number of ways, and we offer here links to three different and interesting perspectives.

In Software Development Times, Christina Cardoza enumerates the moves the biggest tech vendors have been taking to line up resources and make services available to support the work that will fuel the coming cognitive era. In 2016: The Year Artificial Intelligence Exploded, she looks at what’s been going on at Facebook, Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Baidu.

In Computerworld and CIO Magazine, Sharon Gaudin takes something of a different tack. Her After a Big 2016, Next Year May be A.I. Tipping Point takes the view that we haven’t really come that far in terms of tangible results today, but many promising initiatives came to life in 2016. Her perspective focuses on the process of innovation among enterprise firms, particularly acquisition of AI startups by larger players. She grounds her piece on the opinions of industry analysts about how and when the next inflection point in the cognitive market might occur.

In a very different kind of summation, Elizabeth Kolbert takes up the theme of our economic future in the age of “robotics” in a prescient piece in the last New Yorker issue of the year. Her Rage Against the Machine: Will Robots Take Your Job? brings together an amusing thumbnail sketch of the origin and history of IBM’s Watson with perspectives from a number of recent books covering this theme: Martin Ford’s Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future; Jerry Kaplan’s Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence; and Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee’s The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.

If you’re looking for an outstanding primer on creative destruction; the moment the light bulb went on for Watson; the Luddite movement; job impacts of trade vs. job impacts of automation; a framework for predicting whose job goes first; negative income taxes vs. government funded “401K” support for the unemployed; and/or the eventual meaning of President-elect Trump’s “New Industrial Revolution” — this is the place to start.


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