Since 1955, the AI field has gone through cycles of boundless optimism and sobering disillusion. Yet until recently, the supercomputer was the go-to operator of machine intelligence. But three forces have transformed that assumption in the last few years: the surge in data of all kinds, rapid progress in software to find patterns and insights in data, and advances in the technology of data processing, storage and communication.
Now, computing intelligence can be dispersed globally, marshaled and aggregated as necessary, from far-flung data centers in the digital cloud. Google led the way, showing the power of data-driven artificial intelligence delivered over the cloud, not only in search but also in tasks like language translation and computer vision. AI run through the cloud is now the dominant approach used by researchers at technology companies, universities and government labs.