The future of AI will be dictated by just 9 global companies

The future direction of AI research and development will fall into the hands of just nine global companies—three from China and six from the U.S.—Forbes reported April 10.

Amy Webb, a professor of strategic foresight at New York University and founder of the Future Today Institute, told Forbes that AI will be shaped primarily by Alibaba, Amazon, Apple, Baidu, Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Tencent in coming years. She said that in her research on AI, she “kept coming back to the same companies over and over again.”

“These companies that are building the frameworks, the custom silicon, it’s their algorithms, it’s their patents,” she said. “They have the lion’s share of patents in this space ... it’s these nine companies who are building the rules, systems and business models for the future of artificial intelligence.”

There’s a difference between Chinese and American companies, though—the organizations based out of Asia are building a tech environment that’s more private and reliant on guidance from the government, while in the U.S., where freedom of speech is tackled much differently, companies are publicly traded and have fiduciary responsibilities to stakeholders.

Webb said it’s concerning how little transparency exists in the space, especially as American companies are being driven to push their AI solutions to the marketplace as quickly as possible.

“Decisions that drastically affect everyday life are being made by algorithms which were designed by a relatively small group of people working at just a few companies,” she told Forbes. “That process is not in any way meaningfully transparent.”

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