Ma­chine Learn­ing and the Mar­ket for In­tel­li­gence

Rotman Management Magazine - - NEWS - By Ajay Agrawal

A mar­ket for ma­chine in­tel­li­gence is on the hori­zon, and the time to pre­pare for it is now.

A func­tion­ing mar­ket for ma­chine in­tel­li­gence is on the hori­zon, and those who fail to pre­pare for it do so at their own peril.

it is not easy to pic­ture the buy­ing and sell­ing FOR MOST PEO­PLE, of cog­ni­tive ca­pa­bil­i­ties that have tra­di­tion­ally been embedded in hu­mans — things like judg­ment and de­ci­sion-mak­ing. Yet, thanks to re­cent ad­vances in ma­chine learn­ing, we face the very real pos­si­bil­ity of pre­cisely such a ‘mar­ket for in­tel­li­gence’. Given the po­ten­tial of this mar­ket to trans­form the global econ­omy, we must all be­gin pre­par­ing — now — for its emer­gence.

In 2014, upon re­flect­ing on the sig­nif­i­cance of achiev­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI), renowned physi­cist Stephen Hawking wrote: “The po­ten­tial ben­e­fits are huge; ev­ery­thing that civ­i­liza­tion has to of­fer is a prod­uct of hu­man in­tel­li­gence; we can­not pre­dict what we might achieve when this in­tel­li­gence is mag­ni­fied by the tools that AI may pro­vide; but the erad­i­ca­tion of war, dis­ease, and poverty would be high on any­one’s list. Suc­cess in cre­at­ing AI would be the big­gest event in hu­man his­tory.”

Of course, some of the com­pa­nies that were not pre­pared for the ar­rival of the last tech­nol­ogy to trans­form our econ­omy — the In­ter­net — are still lick­ing their wounds; and many oth­ers are long gone. While the out­comes were less se­vere for coun­tries than for busi­nesses, this tech­nol­ogy shock also shifted the rel­a­tive wealth of na­tions. For ex­am­ple, the United States was a pri­mary ben­e­fi­ciary among wealthy coun­tries, and In­dia among poor coun­tries.

To be clear, ma­chine in­tel­li­gence is still in its in­fancy, and while some of the cur­rent ap­pli­ca­tions are re­mark­able, none are trans­for­ma­tional as of yet. For ex­am­ple, the rec­om­men­da­tion en­gines em­ployed by com­pa­nies such as Ama­zon and Net­flix — which learn our preferences and rec­om­mend which books we should buy or which movies we should watch — are a com­mon ap­pli­ca­tion of ma­chine learn­ing. Al­though they may in­crease

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