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Nov 7, 2017

Where Artificial Intelligence and Natural (Human) Intelligence Overlap: Big Bucks for Big Brains.

According to a fascinating article in the New York Times by Cade Metz from October 2017, "Typical A.I. specialists, including both Ph.D.s fresh out of school and people with less education and just a few years of experience, can be paid from $300,000 to $500,000 a year or more in salary and company stock, according to nine people who work for major tech companies or have entertained job offers from them."  That's not too bad.  And these bright boys and girls often "renew or negotiate a new contract, much like a professional athlete."  The reason is that nearly all big technology firms have an AI project, and the talent needed for effective R&D in this area appears to be exceedingly scarce.  The technology industry is forced to fight other industries, such as the automobile industry, and the academic world, over suitable candidates for cutting-edge AI development.

Of course, such intense interest is leading to breathtaking developments.  For example, Google has developed a system of AI that learns on its own.  This system, called AlphaGo Zero, completely mastered the ancient Chinese game of Go in three days -- with no human help beyond being told what the rules of the game are.  Ian Sample, writing in an article from theguardian.com titled, "'It's able to create knowledge itself': Google unveils AI that learns on its own," describes it this way:  "Previous versions of AlphaGo learned their moves by training on thousands of games played by strong human amateurs and professionals. AlphaGo Zero had no such help. Instead, it learned purely by playing itself millions of times over. It began by placing stones on the Go board at random but swiftly improved as it discovered winning strategies."  So there is expectation "that AlphaGo’s descendants will work alongside humans as scientific and medical experts," because this AI implementation will eventually have the ability to outperform humans at tasks such as deciphering extremely complex problems in molecular physics.

Looking to what the future may hold is both frightening and fascinating.  Decision makers at technology (and highly technology-dependent) firms will have to adjust to the major changes that are coming.  Since there is such an incredible upward push for new development in AI, it behooves those of us in command to be attentive to these latest outbreaks and manifestations of Artificial Intelligence.  As far as what it would cost to get a team of AI experts on board...don't even ask.  In any case, you will still need user-facing apps and tools that are capable of providing the best experience possible.  

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