Will AI Companies Make Any Money?

Banksy I was recently consulting with a publishing company that is exploring various ways to digitize and contextualize its content. Knowing that some of the company’s competitors had signed deals with IBM’s Watson, I asked several executives why they had not done a Watson deal themselves. “We think that the market for AI software is rapidly commoditizing, and we believe we can assemble the needed capabilities ourselves at much lower cost,” was this company’s party line. Some particularly knowledgeable managers mentioned that they expected the company would instead make use of open source cognitive software made available from various providers. These potential open source providers are not small vendors; they include, for example, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and Yahoo. Upon hearing this company’s strategy, I was initially a bit surprised. Could…

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