A platform, in technology, is essentially a piece of software that other companies build on and that consumers cannot do without. Become the platform and huge profits will follow. Microsoft dominated personal computers because its Windows software became the center of the consumer software world. Google has come to dominate the Internet through its ubiquitous search bar. If true believers in A.I. are correct that this long-promised technology is ready for the mainstream, the company that controls A.I. could steer the tech industry for years to come.I then tweeted "Can a company control AI? More likely to become a commodity." The major machine learning algorithms are public knowledge and one can find a number of open-source implementations including Google's own TensorFlow that powered AlphaGo. What's to stop a start-up from implementing their own machine learning tools on the cloud?
Some of my readers' comments forced me to rethink my hasty tweet. First, Google, Microsoft and Amazon can create ML infrastructure, cloud hardware that optimizes computational power and storage for machine learning algorithms to get a level of data analysis that one couldn't replicate in software alone.
More importantly, Google etc. have access to huge amounts of data. Cloud companies can provide pretrained machine learning algorithms. Google provides image classification, voice transcription and translation. Microsoft offers face and emotion detection and speech and text analysis. One could imagine, in the absence of privacy issues, Google taking your customer data, matching with data that Google already has on the same customers to draw new inferences about how to market to those customers better.
With almost all our computing heading to the cloud, cloud computing providers will continue to compete, and provide continuing better tools in machine learning and beyond. Eventually will one company "control AI"? That would surprise me but we may still end up with an AI oligarchy.