Start-Up Focus: Artificial Intelligence

Steve Lohr reported in today’s New York Times that, “Today, a start-up that can lay claim to doing artificial intelligence has increased its odds of getting attention and funding. A.I. efforts, scientists agree, are far more advanced than in past boom and bust cycles for this type of technology.

“Yet if the technology seems almost magical at times, success, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs say, will rely on basic business virtues like focus, flexibility, speed and resilience.

“That is particularly true for start-ups. ‘Big companies like Google can make A.I. investments with a 10-year horizon, but a start-up has to release a product in a year or two,’ said Chris Dixon, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz.”

The Times article explained that, “In past cycles, research advances in A.I. generated excitement but not much business. ‘It was a long, long way from being practical,’ said Forest Baskett, a computer scientist and partner at New Enterprise Associates. ‘What makes it investable now is there are applications, things you can do with these tools.’

“The technical ingredients behind modern A.I., he noted, were vast new sources of data, machine-learning software and powerful, inexpensive computing delivered over the so-called computing cloud.”

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