The research firm Gartner made the prediction in July 2017 that artificial intelligence (AI) would be featured in almost every new software product by 2020. As noted, the driverless car was one example of practical AI at work. It was said by 2027, Uber may not need drivers. 'Advertising Week' reported, "According to Statista, revenue from AI services worldwide is expected to grow from $2.4 billion in 2017 to $4.1 billion in 2018 to $59.8 billion in 2025. Meanwhile, the market for Big Data is projected to grow from $33.5 billion in 2017 to $88.5 billion in 2025." 

At the IBM's World of Watson conference held in Las Vegas, October 2016, Ginni Rometty told 17,000 attendees by 2021, every important business or personal decision would be made with the assistance of IBM's $20 billion plus (so far) AI Watson, the machine-learning, business-problem solving supercomputer. Named after IBM's first CEO, Thomas J. Watson, IBM's signature brand, Watson made its debut as a research project in 2006. 

John Kelly of IBM had said, "Everything we brand Watson analytics is very high-end AI." Watson became a household name in 2011 after defeating two human champions on the TV game show, 'Jeopardy!'. The 'Financial Times' reported in January 2016, "Companies like Australian energy group Woodside are using Watson's language capabilities as a form of advanced search engine to trawl their internal 'knowledge bases'. After feeding more than 20,000 documents from 30 years of projects into the system, the company’s engineers can now use it to draw on past expertise, like calculating the maximum pressure that can be used in a particular pipeline."

Mary Barra of General Motors who spoke at the conference, made known the Watson-based OnStar Go would be rolled out in cars in 2017 offering in-vehicle communications, security, navigation, remote diagnostics and hands-free calling. "We believe in the auto industry, in a period of five years (say 2021), we'll see more change than in the last 50 (since 1966). We see that as a huge opportunity to transform personal mobility… Think about taking (OnStar) to the next level, with it knowing you and your life and what you want to accomplish, and doing it seamlessly and safely. If we can take that commute time and allow you to be more efficient, it will transform that time."

At the 2016 conference, 'Computerworld' learnt, "Our (IBM) goal is augmenting intelligence. It is man and machine. This is all about extending your expertise. A teacher. A doctor. A lawyer. It doesn't matter what you do. We will extend it." In May 2016, 'Business Insider' reported the law firm Baker & Hostetler, which handled bankruptcy cases hired the world's first AI lawyer ROSS.

ROSS was described as "a piece of artificial intelligence software. It uses the supercomputing power of IBM Watson to comb through huge batches of data and, over time, learn how to best serve its users." Andrew Arruda, the CEO and co-founder of ROSS Intelligence, told 'Business Insider', "Judges' decisions are written in everyday language and not issued in columns and rows, which is what current computer systems digest best." 

As around 80% of Americans who required a lawyer couldn't afford one, Andrew Arruda pointed out, "With ROSS, lawyers can scale their abilities and start to service this very large untapped market of Americans in need. With ROSS, lawyers can focus on advocating for their client and being creative rather than spending hours swimming though hundreds of links, reading through hundreds of pages of cases looking for the passages of law they need to do their job." 

It was also expected Watson would "change the face of health care." In June 2012, IBM Watson partnered with one of the world’s top cancer research institutions, MD Anderson, which was part of the University of Texas, to use AI in order "to eradicate cancer." It was revealed in February 2017, the $2.4 million project had spiralled to over $62 million (including $21.2 million paid to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to develop a business plan for the system). 'The Washington Post' understood at least $50 million of the money came from Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho. 

Satoru Miyano, who was a professor of the Human Genome Center at the Institute of Medical Science in the University of Tokyo, told the 17,000 attendees at the 2016 conference, "Nobody can read it all (over 200,000 papers published about cancer). We feel we are a frog in the bottom of the well. Understanding cancer is beyond a human being's ability, but Watson can read, understand and learn. Why not use it?" 

'MIT Technology Review' reported in June 2017, "Health care is one of the hottest segments of the market for machine-learning technologies. Research firm CB Insights counts at least 106 startups that have sprung up since 2013 and are still in business. The machine-learning systems like Watson are trained. Watson 'learns' by continually rejiggering its internal processing routines in order to produce the highest possible percentage of correct answers on some set of problems, such as which radiological images reveal cancer. The correct answers have to be already known, so that the system can be told when it gets something right and when it gets something wrong. The more training problems the system can chew through, the better its hit rate gets."

Overall the MD-Anderson/Watson collaboration were said to be positive. It was understood MD Anderson changed the software it used for managing electronic medical records, switching to a new $405 million system made by Epic Systems of Madison, Wisconsin. The Watson product did not work with the new Epic system, and had to be revamped in order to be re-tested.

Lynda Chin of the University of Texas told the 'Financial Times' part of the problem laid in digesting real-world information: reading and understanding reams of doctors' notes that were difficult for a computer to ingest and organize and part of the problem, "on Jeopardy! there's a right answer to the question" but in the medical world, there were mostly just well-informed opinions. 'MIT Tech Review' reminded, "The goal was for Watson to read data about any patient's symptoms, gene sequence, and pathology reports, combine it with physicians' notes on the patient and relevant journal articles, and then help doctors come up with diagnoses and treatments."

Also attending the 2016 IBM conference, analyst Jeff Kagan was asked for a comment, "The challenge IBM has right now (in October 2016) is to define the marketplace. Ten years from now (say 2026), will IBM be the leader? Watson is the leader today (in 2016) but that's easy… If they want to be a leader, they need to create the marketplace and the expectations. Every industry starts with a blank slate. This is the blank slate. IBM is in a position right now to create a base everyone can build on. Some company has to create the base."

'Silicon Angle' noted in July 2017, "IBM is also facing tough competition in the AI sphere of late, with rivals such as Amazon.com Inc., Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp. all building their own AI offerings to rival Watson." 'National Geographic' reported the "Watson program may turn out to be a major advance, because unlike most previous AI projects, it does not depend mainly on a single technique, such as reinforcement learning (learning via reward and punishment), or simulated evolution ... but tries to combine multiple methods."

'ZDNet' reported in 2016, AI researchers predicted a 50% possibility that artificial general intelligence (AGI) - human-level AI - would be developed between 2040 and 2050, rising to 90% by 2075. By 2105, 'super intelligence', understood to be "any intellect that greatly exceeds the cognitive performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest" would have been developed.

In January 2017, 'The Guardian' reported Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance had spent 200m yen (£1.4m) to install the AI system based on IBM's Watson Explorer (understood to have "cognitive technology that can think like a human") to calculate payouts after reading "tens of thousands of medical certificates and factor in the length of hospital stays, medical histories and any surgical procedures." It was reported maintenance would cost around 15m yen (£100k) a year.

As mentioned, "Japan's shrinking, aging population, coupled with its prowess in robot technology, makes it a prime testing ground for AI. According to a 2015 report by the Nomura Research Institute, nearly half of all jobs in Japan could be performed by robots by 2035." In Australia, in June 2017, insurer Suncorp announced it was rolling out its AI technology to process customers' insurance claims. Some 15,000 historical car accident claims had been entered into IBM Watson in order to develop the technology.

'ITnews.com.au' reported Mark Reinke of Suncorp telling attendees at the investor day, "One of the reasons that self-service in claims has traditionally been quite low, you would say, is that it gets complex once you've got multi vehicles involved, particularly in terms of determining liability and obviously that's important to how the claim proceeds.

"We’ve been able to test and prove the use of artificial intelligence in the determination of liability and that - in the testing that we’ve done - has made a significant difference. What that means is we can take a customer through that process without them diverting out of the process at some stage because we needed you to divert to a human effectively to make that decision."

Gary Dransfield added, "That case is using IBM Watson for that liability determination piece, and to make it happen 15,000 claim files had to be de-personalised and loaded back into the system for Watson to learn from." In May 2017, Suncorp's digital insurer, Bingle, launched Binglebot, the "artificial intelligence style support platform that provides contextual answers to our customer. It gives them an immediate response but it also learns from how the customer responded to us, and the nature of the service we provided. So it becomes intuitive and self-teaching."

Bernie Meyerson of IBM stated Watson was "just the first step on a very, very long road." Watson was reportedly trained on cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City. "Human brains bring passion to the work, they bring common sense. By its definition, common sense is not a fact-based undertaking. It is a judgment call," it was explained. 'Fast Company' reported, "Watson is an agglomeration of about 30 products, aimed at dozens of industries that range from small to gigantic and require anything from little technical knowledge to advanced data science skills."

However, "there’s one kind of AI that IBM isn’t developing: the human-like artificial general intelligence (AGI) fantasized in movies like '2001', 'Her', and 'Ex Machina'. There’s a good reason why IBM doesn’t work on AGI: It doesn’t, and may never, exist." Ray Kurzweil of Google begged to differ, "I would place some of the elements in (Spike) Jonze's depiction (in 'Her') at around 2020 … such as the diffident and insulting video game character he interacts with and the pin-sized cameras that one can place like a freckle on one's face. Other elements seem more like 2014 (the film was released in 2013), such as the flat-panel displays, notebooks and mobile devices. Samantha herself I would place at 2029, when the leap to human-level AI would be reasonably believable."

Of Spike Jonze's society of the future, Peter Norvig of Google told 'Speakeasy', "As we get a more elderly population and we need to take care of them, how much of that caretaking will shift off onto machines, and are they going to do as good a job? And who gets the machine, and who gets the real person?" In his review of 'Her', Ray Kurzweil concluded, "In my view, biological humans will not be outpaced by the AIs because they (we) will enhance themselves (ourselves) with AI.

"It will not be us versus the machines (whether the machines are enemies or lovers), but rather, we will enhance our own capacity by merging with our intelligent creations. We are doing this already. Even though most of our computers — although not all — are not yet physically inside us, I consider that to be an arbitrary distinction. They are already slipping into our ears and eyes and some, such as Parkinson’s implants, are already connected into our brains.

"A kid in Africa with a smartphone has instant access to more knowledge than the President of the United States had just 15 years ago (around 2000). We have always created and used our technology to extend our reach. We couldn’t reach the fruit at that higher branch a thousand years ago, so we fashioned a tool to extend our physical reach. We have already vastly extended our mental reach, and that is going to continue at an exponential pace."

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