Artificial intelligence has exploded in the past few years with dozens of startup companies and major AI initiatives by big name firms alike. The New York Times estimates there are 45 AI startups working on chips alone, not to mention the dozens of AI software firms working on machine learning, deep learning and regular AI projects.
AI has diversified into many, many uses and takes on a variety of different forms, from self-driving automobiles to operating Amazon’s Alexa via voice command to AI-powered server configurations.
This is fueling both a massive amount of venture funding and acquisition. Almost as soon as a AI company emerges from stealth mode, it seems to be acquired. According to CB Insights, 115 of 120 AI companies that exited the market in 2017 did so by acquisition. Clearly, there is interest in artificial intelligence and its ability to improve the human experience, despite pushback from naysayers who warn of AI’s disruption.
In truth, artificial intelligence holds a plethora of possibilities – and risks. “It will have a huge economic impact but also change society, and it's hard to make strong predictions, but clearly job markets will be affected,” said Yoshua Bengio, a professor at the University of Montreal, and head of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms.
The following 25 companies are playing a role in shaping the future of artificial intelligence and its capabilities. We featured artificial intelligence companies that are particularly noteworthy as well as those that have invested significantly in artificial intelligence. These AI companies are listed alphabetically.
Top Artificial Intelligence Companies
The leading companies in the AI sector: Please let us know of any significant artificial intelligence companies that you think we missed and leave a note in the Comments section below.
Based in California, AIBrain is an artificial intelligence company that builds AI solutions for smartphones and robotics applications. It three products: AICoRE, the AI agent, iRSP, an intelligent robot software platform, and Futurable, a future simulation AI game where every character is a fully autonomous AI. The focus of their work is to develop artificial intelligence infused with the human skill set of problem solving, learning and memory.
The online retail giant offers both consumer and business-oriented AI products and services. Amazon Echo brings artificial intelligence into the home through the intelligent voice server, Alexa. For AWS, the company has three primary services: Lex, a business version of Alexa, Polly, which turns text to speech, and Rekognition, an image recognition service.
Anki is dedicated to bringing consumer robotics into everyday life through its Cozmo and Anki Overdrive products. Cozmo is Anki’s flagship robot. Cozmo has been described as one of the most sophisticated consumer robots to date due to its emotional responses while Overdrive is a car racing game complete with track.
Apple has acquired four artificial intelligence startups within the past two years, demonstrating its big step into the artificial intelligence sphere. One of them became the bases for FaceID, a facial recognition security system. The bulk of the company’s work is around Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, but as usual Apple is tight-lipped about plans. It recently poached Google’s AI chief, which will undoubtedly help its efforts and further the acrimony with Google.
Raising over $100 million last year, Banjo makes use of artificial intelligence to comb through social media and identify real-time events and situations that are important to its partners. The startup was developed after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 as a way for companies to analyze social media to make better decisions, move faster, and change the way they understand and interact with people all over the world.
CloudMinds is developing what it calls an end-to-end cloud intelligence (CI) system called Human Augmented Robotics Intelligence (HARI) platform for robots. CI is different from AI in that it combines machines with humans rather than treating them as separate entities. This allows the robot to be controlled by human beings. It also offers the Mobile Intranet Cloud Services (MCS), provides information security for remote robot control.
Not a product company, Deepmind is nonetheless a major leader because of its role in AI research. Based in London, it recruits heavily from Oxford and Cambridge, which are leading the way in AI and ML research. Its research papers are widely read as soon as they are published. Google (see below) acquired DeepMind.
Facebook AI Research (FAIR) has four artificial intelligence labs around the world all designed to give better understanding to how people communicate. The company has also made four recent AI-related acquisitions, the most recent being Ozlo, to help Messenger build out a more elaborate virtual assistant for users.
Google, clearly a leader in AI, is on a massive AI acquisition binge, having acquired 12 AI startups in four years. Google is deeply invested in furthering artificial intelligence capabilities. Rather than selling a product to the market, Google’s AI efforts are all oriented toward improving its services. It has a major software project in TensorFlow as well as its own Tensor AI chip project.
Used by more than 100,000 data scientists at more than 12,600 organizations worldwide, H2O claims to be "the world's leading open source deep learning platform." The company's products include its H2O platform, the Deep Water interface that unites leading open source deep learning tools with H2O, the Sparkling Water framework that combines H2O and Spark, the Steam AI Engine for developers, and Driverless AI, which promises "AI to do AI." Its customer list includes large enterprises like Capital One, Progressive Insurance, Transamerica, Comcast, Macy's and Walgreens.
IBM has been a leader in the field of artificial intelligence since the 1950s. Its efforts these days are around IBM Watson, such as a AI-based cognitive service, AI software as a service, and scale-out systems designed for delivering cloud-based analytics and AI services. It too has been acquisitive, purchasing three AI startups in recent years.
iCarbonX is a Chinese biotech startup which uses artificial intelligence to provide personalized health analyses and health index predictions. It has formed an alliance with seven technology companies from around the world that specialize in gathering different types of health-care data, and will use algorithms to analyze genomic, physiological and behavioral data and provide customized health and medical advice.
Intel has conducted two major AI acquisitions, Nervana and Movidius. Nervana is a deep learning processor while Movidius is geared toward neural networks on Windows systems. In addition to numerous acquisitions, Intel has also invested in several AI startups, along with Microsoft. Intel is also providing AI acceleration for Microsoft’s Bing search engine via its Arria FPGA processors.
14. Iris AI
Iris AI helps researchers sort through scientific work and research to find the relevant information, and as it is used, it learns how to make better searchers. Since its launch, 120,000 people have tried the service, some becoming regular users. It recently released Iris.ai 4.0, which adds the Focus tool, an intelligent mechanism to refine and collate a reading list of research literature, cutting out a huge amount of manual effort.
Microsoft has a mix of consumer-facing and business/IT AI projects. On the consumer side it has Cortana, the digital assistant that comes with Windows and now is available for smartphones other than Windows Phone and the chatbot Zo that talks like a teenager. On its Azure cloud service, Microsoft has AI services such as bot services, machine learning and cognitive services.
16. Next IT
Next IT is one of the original companies that pioneered chatbots and has helped companies such as Alaska Airlines and Amtrak to easily interact with customers to answer and solve their problems. Their artificial intelligence capabilities allow them to help organizations in a variety of industries including healthcare and insurance.
Nvidia’s emergence as an AI leader was hardly overnight. It has been promoting its CUDA GPU programming language for nearly two decades. AI developers have come to see the value in the GPU’s massively parallel processing design and embraced Nvidia GPUs for machine learning and artificial intelligence. One area Nvidia is making a big push is in self-driving cars, but it is one of many efforts.
OpenAI has something of an open source spirit. It’s a research firm that aims to promote and develop AI so as to benefit humanity as a whole. The organization aims to "freely collaborate" with other institutions and researchers by making its patents and research open to the public. It has an all-star staff of employees who publish widely-read research papers and offer open source tools.
Over the past two years, Salesforce has acquired three AI companies and recently announced Salesforce Einstein, their artificial intelligence service. Their latest initiative, which includes a team of 175 data scientists, uses machine learning to help employees more efficiently perform tasks by simplifying and speeding them up. In addition to Salesforce’s own employees, Einstein will be available for customers who can build their own applications.
SoundHound is known for its music-identification app Hound, but it also has one of the most advanced and accurate platforms for natural language processing for doing all kinds of voice-to-text queries. Among those enterprises who have implemented it are Samsung, Nvidia, Sony’s Xperia, Yelp, and Uber.
Twilio is a cloud communications platform as a service (PaaS) company that allows software developers to integrate text messages, phone calls, and video calls into applications through the use of various APIs. Twilio's services are accessed over HTTP and are billed based on usage.
Twitter has invested significant funds into artificial intelligence. They have acquired 4 AI companies to date. Their latest acquisition of the AI tech startup, Magic Pony, cost them a cool $150 million. A while back Twitter introduced a so-called algorithmic timeline that ranked tweets based on relevance instead of the usual reverse chronological order. The company has also added AI to recommend certain tweets in users' timelines.
ViSenze’s artificial intelligence technology works by recommending visually similar items to users when shopping online. ViSenze utilizes machine learning and computer vision algorithms, which process and analyze millions of visual content. It uses visual sensing to find a match for an item online, then offers filters for pricing, similarity and availability.
Geared for busy users, x.ai’s intelligence virtual assistant Amy helps users schedule meetings. The concept is simple — if you receive a meeting request but don’t have time to work out logistics, you copy Amy onto the email and she handles it. Through machine learning and natural language processing, Amy schedules the best time and location for your meeting based on your preferences and schedule.
Zebra Medical Systems is an Israeli company that applies deep learning techniques to the field of radiology. It claims it can predict multiple diseases with better-than-human accuracy by examining a huge library of medical images and a specialized examination technology. It recently moved its algorithms to Google’s cloud to help it scale and offers $1 medical scans.
This list of leading artificial intelligence companies will change and grow as quickly as AI itself. We invite you to add suggestions for new AI companies in the Comments section below.