One stat shows how artificial intelligence is exploding into the world

Robot parrotChip Somodevilla / GettyRobot parrots aren’t the only reason to look over your shoulder.

Artificial intelligence is going bananas right now.

Google made headlines with it huge victory in the ancient game of Go a few weeks ago. And AI is entering into the marketplace at a historic rate, changing industries as complex as Wall Street in the process.

If you get the feeling that we’re at the start of a tidal wave, you might be right — take it from Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang. In an interview with Fortune, Huang explained that AI has gone from “from research concept to engineering application.”

Nvidia — the graphics card manufacturer beloved by computer gamers — has become a major player in AI because its processors are uniquely suited to handling the demands of deep learning algorithms.

Deep learning is remarkably powerful because its’s a method of recognising objects (your friend’s face in an Instagram photo or another car on the road) and — quite recently — being able to act based on what the algorithm recognises.

It’s “exploding,” Huang says. “Two years ago we were talking to 100 companies interested in using deep learning,” he continued, noting that the industries range across advertising, energy, cars, finance, and medicine.

These fields would be interested in deep learning because the technique doesn’t require engineers to program what works or what doesn’t into an algorithm — it instead allows computers to learn on their own. The most famous example is AlphaGo, Google program that just toppled a human champion. AlphaGo’s algorithms studied a database of online Go matches to secure its win, giving it the equivalent experience of doing nothing but playing Go for 80 years straight.

“This year we’re supporting 3,500 [companies],” he says. “In two years’ time there has been 35X growth.”

Looks like Go is just the beginning.

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