Companies of all kinds are adopting artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning systems at an accelerated pace. International Data Corp. (IDC) projects that shipments of AI software will grow by 50% per year and will reach $57.6 billion in 2021 — up from $12 billion in 2017 and just $8 billion in 2016. AI is being applied to a range of tasks, including rating mortgage applications, spotting signs of trouble on power lines, and helping drivers navigate using location data from smartphones.
But companies are learning the hard way that developing and deploying AI and machine-learning systems is not like implementing a standard software program. What makes these programs so powerful — their ability to “learn” on their own — also makes them unpredictable and imminently capable of errors that can harm the business.