by Xinhua writers Ye Zaiqi, Wu Xiaoling
SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become the buzzword of 2017 as tech companies, from promising startups to big-name firms such as Google and Facebook, are snapping up the AI technology which has changed people's lives and the world.
The AI technology, which has experienced a rapid development in the past decade, has outperformed human intelligence in some areas and grown into a "super human artificial intelligence."
The stunning power of Artificial Intelligence shocked the whole world last year when Google's AlphaGo beat South Korea' top player, an 18-time world champion Lee Sedol in the game of Go based on a huge database and powerful algorithms.
But its latest version, Alpha Go Zero, which learned to teach itself how to play Go with no human background, demonstrated an even more powerful talent by defeating 3-0 the world top-ranking player, China's Ke Jie, and a five world-champion team in another challenge game of Go in May 2017.
Similarly, the AI Libratus invented by Carnegie Mellon, skinned the world's top poker players in a poker match in early 2017 by learning through self-play instead of human game data.
"The idea of Alpha Go is ... actually discover what it means to do science -- for a program to be able to learn from itself what knowledge is," said Professor David Silver of the DeepMind team that created the Alpha Go Zero.
The overwhelming performance of the artificial intelligence programs proved that the best AI is better than the best humans, indicating the stronghold of human intelligence is being taken down by artificial intelligence.
Silicon Valley, home to many of the world's largest high-tech companies and thousands of startups, has always been the frontrunner of tech innovations, including AI technology.
Silicon Valley-based tech firms are investing heavily on AI technology that would redefine the future of every industry.
Google forked out over 500 million U.S. dollars in 2016 to acquire the London-headquartered DeepMind, the creator of Alpha Go that is focused on machine learning.
It has also announced the establishment of a new AI research center in Beijing, the first of its kind in Asia.
Back home, Google is using AI technology to detect and remove hate-comments and content on Youtube, the world's largest online video sharing network.
Another tech giant, Facebook said it is using AI technology to filter and remove images of child exploitation from its platform.
Even young startups are present in the new wave of technological innovation.
EquBot LLC, a San Francisco-based company which launched the world's first AI-powered Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) in the New York Stock Exchange in October, said its product can simulate the work of equity research analysts and work around the clock in an "almost fully automated" process.
"We train our AI models to see how the market will react, let the AI models look at it and see how they behave," EquBot CEO Chida Khatua told Xinhua in a recent interview, explaining the way AI makes decisions.
Another startup company, Embodied Intelligence, is developing algorithms that let robots learn tasks on their own.
Backed by 7 million dollars in funding from the Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Amplify Partners and other investors, the company is intent on bringing a new level of robotic automation to the world's factories, warehouses and perhaps even homes.
Apart from the industrial front, AI technology has a far-reaching impact on human life and everyday activities.
Apple's next generation smartphone IPhone X is equipped with AI-powered facial recognition technology to unlock system and secure the safety of the devices.
Last month, Facebook said it was applying AI technology to scan users' posts for signs they're having suicidal thoughts.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he hoped the tool would remind people that AI is "helping save peoples' lives today."
AI is advancing rapidly in various sectors on an unprecedented scale.
With a promising prospect, AI is becoming more prevalent and omnipresent in daily lives.
Just like the Internet, a connected world that increases communication and efficiency, the revolutionary AI technology edges into every area of people's lives, and will continue to impact in 2018.