For some, artificial intelligence (AI) represents the next logical progression in the advancement of technology. For others, it is simply mankind trying to play God.
Despite the ardent arguments lobbied from either side of the debate, AI continues to move forward. Tools such as IBM Watson and Wolfram|Alpha are growing in popularity, with the former competing on the game show Jeopardy, against human participants.
But, it's not only big companies building out the AI market. Companies like Google and Facebook are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in acquiring the top startups in AI, to put the data they've collected to work. Google acquired DeepMind Technologies in early 2014 and, recently, Facebook picked up speech recognition AI startup Wit.ai.
The interesting thing about AI is that it has potentially limitless applications across a variety of industries, and bold new startups are the ones that are bringing the technology to market.
Here are five startups doing big things with AI.
In December 2014, MetaMind officially launched with $8 million in funding from Khosla Ventures and Salesforce's Marc Benioff. MetaMind is based on a technology called recursive neural networks that powers the company's deep learning capabilities of sentiment analysis and image classification.
MetaMind's image classification is a drag-and-drop tool where users can upload an image and MetaMind will tell them what the subject of the image is. So, if you upload a picture of a burger, it will tell you that you are looking at a burger. Additionally, the tool can perform sentiment analysis on text such as tweets, successfully labeling the language as positive, negative, or neutral. You can sign up for the free MetaMind API here.
2. Sentient Technologies
Sentient Technologies isn't a very new startup, but it did recently come out of stealth when it announced its Series C financing round in late 2014. The company has built one of the largest intelligent systems in existence, with the goal of making AI massively scalable.
The concept is based on Darwinian evolution in that it learns and adapts as to provide better results for the user. According to the company's website, each of its AI engines runs on separate CPUs and GPUs, and are scalable to millions of cores. This means it can ramp up faster and run jobs for longer periods of time.
3. The Grid
Even with the help of a template from Squarespace or Wordpress, building a website still takes a lot of human effort and input. The Grid uses AI to build and customize your website for you, billing itself as "your personal AI web developer."
As far as design goes, The Grid uses proprietary algorithms to analyze media you upload and uses a consistent color palette across the site. It also applies a complementary color to your text to make sure it is as readable as possible. The Grid also offers time-sensitive content suggestions, automated A/B testing, and plug-and-play e-commerce features.
Enlitic is a startup that uses deep learning and image analysis to help doctors make diagnoses and spot abnormalities in medical images. For example, Enlitic could analyze medical images such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans for trends in the data or anomalies in individual images.
The company was founded by Jeremy Howard, who previously founded a few other tech startups. According to a Reddit AMA conducted by Howard, eliminating data silos is one of the major barriers to the advancement of medical technology and his company wants to enable better access to that data to medical professionals.
If you've ever been frustrated by the back-and-forth of scheduling a meeting over e-mail, X.ai is here to help. The company has built an AI assistant that takes over scheduling for you and handles it on your behalf. X.ai users simply CC the assistant "Amy," and she handles the negotiations for a time and place and sends out the event invitations to everyone.
The New York-based company is backed by a plethora of investors and is currently in a closed beta. Although, you can add your name to the e-mail waiting list on the company's site. For those whose day is typically made of meetings, this could save valuable time.
- Why AI could destroy more jobs than it creates, and how to save them
- Artificial intelligence: Know its purported benefits and risks
- Artificial intelligence invades music: Embracing the tech and staying human
- The 10 most interesting portrayals of AI in movies
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.