Science fiction has long cautioned us that the rise of artificial intelligence will likely mean the end of humanity. The Matrix, Terminator, Blade Runner…the list goes on. But in the real world, while some are concerned about artificial intelligence in 2017, analysts see huge potential in the industry for some key AI companies. In fact, AI technology will be a key driver of some of the biggest tech companies as it continues to develop.
And the AI wars have only just begun. And no, not against humans, but rather between tech giants jostling for dominance in what is one of most promising developments in the tech world.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Google-parent Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) are three such AI companies that are looking to bring about the next evolution of computing software—and huge gains for their respective stock prices along with it.
You see, the first company to truly get a handle on AI and all its capabilities—provided the machines don’t then choose to dispose of their fleshy masters—will be akin to some of the first companies to utilize electricity, the assembly line, or the Internet, which is to say that AI is the next revolutionary shift in technology that will have far-reaching implications as to how we lead our lives.
And such revolutionary technology will be a boon to Amazon stock, the MSFT stock price, or the GOOG stock price, depending on which company can effectively take control of the market. That brings us to the AI arms race.
With all that being said, let’s take a look at each individual company’s moves in regards to AI and which ones are the AI companies to watch in 2017.
Alphabet’s AI and the GOOG Stock Price
Google’s “DeepMind” is considered one of the premier AI development projects around. Some, like Nick Bostrom of Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute, named it the leading developer of human-level artificial intelligence. (Source: “Nick Bostrom: London’s DeepMind is winning the global race to develop human-level artificial intelligence,” Business Insider, October 5, 2016.)
And if you don’t believe him, just look at some of its achievements. Google DeepMind achieved dominance over mere mortals when it beat the world’s greatest “Go” players. Go is a board game, so robots beating humans is nothing new. But whereas chess has a rather limited set of outcomes by comparison, Go holds the possibility for many more strategies and moves, making a Go victory that much more impressive due to its high complexity.
The list of DeepMind achievements could go on for a while, but perhaps the most impressive one (and important one for investors to watch) is its presence in academic journals.
According to a tally Google provided to MIT Technology Review, it published 218 journal or conference papers on machine learning last year, which is twice as many as it had two years ago. Clarivate Analytics backed those numbers up, claiming that, according to its measure of publication strength, Google had four to fives times the world average. Google came out as number one by a wide margin when pitted against other companies with a penchant for publishing on AI. (Source: “Google’s AI Explosion in One Chart,” MIT Technology Review, March 25, 2017.)
And before you disregard these academic journal publications as fluff, know that many industries in their early stages were battled over in these very journals. When technology this cutting-edge is being developed, one important front is academic publication. After all, this allows the foremost minds on the subject to gather and examine the work and release it to the world.
Google’s push in this area is massive in terms of getting it ahead in the AI wars. And, of course, it could lead to major breakthroughs in AI technology, and therefore huge gains for the GOOG stock price. Google’s strength in this area makes it clear that it is one of the top AI companies to watch in 2017.
Google is also no slouch on the product side. Its “Google Home” is a direct competitor to the “Amazon Echo,” which we’ll examine later. It’s basically meant to be an AI assistant to help you keep organized around the house (think J.A.R.V.I.S. from Iron Man). Have a nagging question you need searched on the Internet? Want the song changed? Want to plan your schedule? Google Home’s AI is there to help. While Google Home has a lot of catching up to do with the Amazon Echo, the company’s continued progress in all things AI is good news for Google stock enthusiasts.
And we didn’t even touch upon a myriad number of other technologies that Google is researching, from autonomous vehicles with Waymo or its plans to use AI in the healthcare sector. Needless to say, Google is going all-in on artificial intelligence in 2017.
AI Tech and AMZN Stock
While it’s hard to compete with Google when it comes to its progress in the research side of AI tech, Amazon is leading the way when it comes to products.
Google Home may eventually increase in popularity as the AI helper of choice for people’s homes, but for now, the Amazon Echo is the reigning champ.
Pretty much featuring all the same qualities as Google Home, with the added benefit of having a one-year-plus head start over Google, the Amazon Echo is the home AI helper of choice in the market at the moment. This is good news because the market for these devices is about to grow exponentially. The 2017 Voice Report from VoiceLabs claims that 24.5 million of these gadgets will ship in 2017, a massive improvement over the less-than-10-million sold in 2016, This is good news for artificial intelligence in 2017. (Source: “The 2017 Voice Report by VoiceLabs,” VoiceLabs, January 15, 2017.)
This huge shift in sales will only push these companies to further develop these products, which will, of course, impact the AI development race.
Estimates currently rate Amazon Echo sales in the vicinity of 10 million, and as such, this makes the company’s AI offering the top device in the market at the moment. With the backing of the Amazon empire behind it, it’s unlikely that the Amazon Echo will falter in the near future, making the climb difficult for the Google Home on this front.
Amazon also made waves in the tech world when it announced the creation of a totally automated grocery store called “Amazon Go.” Essentially, customers would sign in on an app, which would mark down which products they take off the shelves and then deduct the price from their account when they exited the store. A quick, sleek, humanless experience for future grocery shoppers.
Not to mention that this would mean the death of the line, so at least artificial intelligence in 2017 will murder something we don’t like.
Reports are coming in that the automated store will likely be delayed due to glitches in the system handling so many customers.
But the point is that innovation is the name of the game in the AI world, and Amazon has that in spades. This is certainly a boon for AMZN stock should these boundary-pushing technologies come to fruition and realize their full potential, making Amazon one of the AI companies to watch in 2017.
AI’s Impact on MSFT Stock
Google and Amazon are hardly the only two tech titans duking it out over feminized robotic assistants. Both Microsoft and longtime rival Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) also have iterations of voice-activated AI helpers. But while Apple is focusing more on augmented reality these days, Microsoft seems to be pushing forward with artificial intelligence in 2017.
“Siri” made headlines years ago when Apple first introduced it, but Microsoft followed its success with a version of its own in “Cortana.” Named after a heroine from its Halo video game franchise (who is, of course, also an AI, though a much more sophisticated and sentient one), the company is seeking to enhance its play in this exciting sector.
The latest news surrounding the MSFT stock price is the partnership between Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE) and Microsoft, where the two behemoths will seek out ways to enhance their products via AI tech. (Source: “Adobe, Microsoft working together on artificial intelligence,” The Economic Times, March 23, 2017.)
Microsoft, however, is a little bit behind its competitors when it comes to AI, at least as far as the public is concerned. And that makes sense. After all, Bill Gates has famously come out warning against the potential threat posed by AI, not only on humanity as a whole, but also on human-manned jobs.
The Future of AI Companies
AI could possibly be the biggest game-changing tech to smash our economic, social, and political norms since the Internet. The capabilities of this tech are boundless—and also unpredictable. It is for that very reason that some of tech’s most innovative and future-loving luminaries fear a rapid and unregulated expansion of AI. The potential for the technology—both for ill and good—is simply immeasurable.
A company that can truly harness the power of AI and create the first computer able to learn, adapt, and outthink its human creators will logically be capable of self-improvement, which will then lead to a being of even greater intelligence, and therefore more self-improvement, and on and on it goes. This is described as the “Singularity” and it is the nightmare of many AI doomsayers.
But it’s also a great way for a company to absolutely dominate not only the AI market, but many other markets as well. This is what makes artificial intelligence in 2017 so interesting. The race for AI dominance is not just about this one sector—it’s about the whole world.
As such, know that whichever company is able to get a grasp on the tech first is about to be in for a big payday, and its stock is the one you want to own right now. Because artificial intelligence in 2017 is set to soar.