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Artificial Intelligence Swarms Silicon Valley on Wings and Wheels

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Robots like this one developed by Bossa Nova Robotics have been used in Lowe's stores to check inventory.

Artificial intelligence and robotics are leading a transformation in Silicon Valley.

Credit: The New York Times

Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are leading a transformation in Silicon Valley, which is expected to be as significant as the personal computing industry and commercial Internet eras were.

"Whenever there is a new idea, the valley swarms it," says Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang. "But you have to wait for a good idea, and good ideas don't happen every day."

Some technologists see innovations such as deep learning establishing a platform for machines with human-level intelligence, and although past efforts in the field have come up short, many investors are confident the renewed interest in AI will bear fruit.

There currently are at least 19 companies in the valley designing self-driving vehicles, and more than six kinds of mobile robots are undergoing commercialization.

CB Insights estimates AI startup funding has climbed more than fourfold from $145 million in 2011 to $681 million in 2015, while new investments will grow 76 percent year-over-year to $1.2 billion.

Singularity University's Paul Saffo says the entrepreneurial enthusiasm for AI is typical of Silicon Valley's tendency to reinvent itself and follow the latest technology trends. "The valley is built on the idea that there is always a way to start over and find a new beginning," he says.

From The New York Times
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