Artificial Intelligence in the US: Where is it going?

Artificial Intelligence(AI) is one of the fastest growing IT sectors in the US, and it’s only getting bigger. The sector has allowed for growth in a number of different ways, specifically with interactive household appliances launching, including Alexa and Google Home. At consumer level, we’re already benefiting from AI as it begins to be able to replicate human intelligence and activity in real, practical ways.

AI certainly hasn’t peaked yet, either. AI is doing far more than just bringing technology into your home, it’s also working on expanding its role in healthcare, medicine and life sciences. Lending a helping hand to the medical industry, AI now has the ability to detect a number of diseases, including skin cancer.

In a business-sense, that means AI is a lucrative money-maker – and companies are seeing this as an opportunity for expansion. As they look for ways to tap into the AI market, pioneers and entrepreneurs are on the radar of multinationals as they race to keep up with the latest knowledge and technology.

In this sense, the US market has huge potential for many IT entrepreneurs who want to expand their business over the pond – a fact noted in a new report from overseas expansion experts Foothold America.

Microsoft, for example, purchased UK company SwiftKey in 2016. The software created by Jon Reynolds, Dr Ben Medlock and Chris Hill-Scott in 2008 proved to be adaptable to smartphones, so it was bought for $250million.

In the future, we might well come to see this as a milestone moment – the deal that showed how valuable and lucrative AI will be.

Harry Shum, Executive Vice President of Microsoft AI and Research Group, wrote an instructive blog at the time that explained the importance of the SwiftKey purchase.

He wrote: “In this cloud-first, mobile-first world, SwiftKey’s technology aligns with our vision for more personal computing experiences that anticipate our needs versus responding to our commands, and directly supports our ambition to reinvent productivity by leveraging the intelligent cloud.

“SwiftKey estimates that its users have saved nearly 10 trillion keystrokes, across 100 languages, saving more than 100,000 years in combined typing time. Those are impressive results for an app that launched initially on Android in 2010 and arrived on iOS less than two years ago.”

In the years since, Microsoft’s move can be seen as a blueprint – and even more prescient than it appeared back then.

In 2015, the industry was a $5billion marketplace by revenue, but during 2020, it’s expected to reach $12.5billion, with more growth to follow.

In the US, there’s an acceptance of the acute need to establish itself as the leading player. The tone has been set from the very top – with the American AI Initiative signed by President Trump in February 2019. Upon doing so, he noted: “Continued American leadership in Artificial Intelligence is of paramount importance to maintaining the economic and national security of the United States.”

The policy was set up to help distribute federal funds towards the research needed to fuel the AI revolution. It also aims to promote international standards for AI and improve AI literacy for the country’s workforce.

Perhaps predictably, the bulk of the money given to AI so far is being spent in California (48% of deals), New York (12%), and Massachusetts (9%) – although CB Insights demonstrates that many AI startups across the country have earned cash, indicative of the fact that few sectors will be able to avoid the transformatory impact of AI.

Since February 2019, the policy was followed by the release of ten principles from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). These aim to set the tone for the next stage of AI’s development – establishing the limit of regulation, promoting trustworthiness and ensuring public engagement.

While growth can be expected to continue in the 2020s – in everything from customer services to cutting edge healthcare – it’s clear that the ‘rules of the game’ are now being established. The attitudes of the public – whether it’s fear of being replaced or mistrust of technology – matter and businesses need to do more to allay those if they are to continue on the current growth trajectory.

The US is leading the way in both the development of the technology and the setting of the parameters in which AI could and should be used. Where it leads, others will follow – and where it flourishes others will have opportunities.

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