The internet is a technology of low-cost communication and connection. Everything from email to e-commerce to social networks has hinged on the internet’s transformative role in changing the economics of communication. All those connections suddenly became both possible and cheap.
Artificial intelligence (A.I.) is a technology of low-cost prediction and discovery. It exploits the new resource of the digital age — vast amounts of data — to identify patterns and make predictions. Much of what A.I. does today can be thought of as a prediction. What product to recommend, what ad to show you, what image is in that picture, what move should the robot make next — all are automated predictions.
This concept of A.I. as an engine of predictive decision-making is the main theme of a new book by three economists at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, “Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence” (Harvard Business Review Press).
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