For more than 50 years, we’ve been hearing about the promise of artificial intelligence and intelligent machines, but most of the big success stories to date – the IBM Watsons of the world – have been the result of massive efforts by universities and corporate R&D labs rather than by emerging start-ups. That could change soon, the Washington Post reports, as artificial intelligence shows signs of becoming the next big trend for tech start-ups in Silicon Valley.
First of all, there’s the anecdotal evidence about deals getting done for promising new AI startups. One of the most talked about VC deals in March, for example, was a $40 million round for Vicarious FPC, an artificial intelligence company that had so much hype around it that the biggest names of the tech world – including Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk (and Ashton Kutcher) – lined up to participate. And that comes just two months after Google made a monster $400 million bet on DeepMind, an AI start-up based in London. In fact, Google’s Larry Page was so concerned about keeping the DeepMind deal away from Facebook that he took a major role in leading the deal himself.