Live from New York, if just a bit Off Broadway, were the O'Reilly AI conference and Strata & Hadoop World shows last week. These events were fascinating as character studies of overlapping technology stars. AI is now the fresh faced celebrity, if a bit immature, raring to get a big break, while Hadoop has become recognized as always delivering a solid performance, but may be fading a bit in glamour.
Starting with the AI conference then. This was a stunningly cool event. The stuff being done with machine learning, deep learning, neural networks, etc., is incredible. A well-trained AI can accurately process rough inputs, analyze to build complex models, and predict all manner of outcomes. In an instant. Except it's all still rather hard to use and could benefit from some better packaging and integration with other IT technologies. If there is a shortage of general data scientists, I wonder how many people can really master machine learning as it's presented today. Can we say "user interface?" That aside, we are on the cusp of some truly remarkable things. Though AI may still struggle to do some tasks my 10-year old tackles effortlessly, at the same time it can process phenomenally more info and find hidden patterns. And it's fascinating how an AI thinks, perceiving the world in fundamentally different ways than us meat. This space is ripe for massive growth, if we can get the tech accessible to more than a handful of companies, universities, and government labs.