Artificial intelligence (AI) has crept into our lives without most of us knowing it, transforming our world in profound and exciting ways.
Right now, it's filtering spam out of our inboxes, detecting fraud in our bank accounts, and diagnosing our health problems—among many other things.
"I think a very good precedent that we have in recent history is the web," says François Chollet, a prominent AI researcher and author of Keras, an open source neural networks library.
If you're old enough to remember the days of dial-up and throwaway AOL CDs, compare your life before and after the internet became widespread. That's how much AI is going to affect the world—if not more.
But with all of this grand talk about how AI is changing us and our world, it's easy to forget something more important: how we're changing AI.
This technology is the sum of choices made by individual researchers and engineers each day. The impact of those choices multiplies as their results are shared with the larger AI community.
As it turns out, AI has taken off so rapidly in recent years because there is a lot of sharing going on.
"Open source has become the default for AI," Chollet says. "Things are accelerating because we are making the tools and the data more accessible. So that means that more people can get started doing research and playing with algorithms."
We spent the last nine months traveling the country and spending time with some of the individuals leading this AI revolution. We profiled researchers and engineers at OpenAI, an Elon Musk-backed nonprofit focused on developing safe and secure AI through transparency. We followed the CEO of an open source machine learning startup who wants to make enterprises care more about how AI can benefit their businesses. And we spoke with a mathematician championing diversity and inclusiveness for AI's future.
We asked each of them what it's like to turn what was once the product of science fiction into a reality for everyone.
What they told us exceeded our wildest imaginations.
What's the next story?