And he's right.
How can a computer possibly understand that "feel can smell" and a "nose can run"?
But on February 16th 2011, IBM's Watson did precisely that: it was able to defeat the two reigning human champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. And with that IBM ignited the space race for artificial intelligence.
Although people may point to the wide array of personal digital assistants from Apple (Siri), Microsoft (Cortana) or Google Now as the true birth of the AI space race. However, these application are limited to the use of the personal arena. Anyone who used things like Google Now - which can link your calendar to traffic patterns and tell you if you'll be late for appointment - can tell how amazing it is to how have a digital assistant work behind the scenes to keep your day on track. That, however, is limited to the consumer realm. Where AI gets real interesting is the B2B realm: Watson has made some strides in automating the FAQ process. However, it's real promise has been demonstrated in the cancer treatment realm, where it enables doctors to "race with the machine" combining the millions of pages of medical journals and articles to determine the best cancer treatment for patients. Watson is available in a cloud offering to developers who submit applications.
But IBM is not alone and so the AI Space Race is on!
As for the other vendors, see the following:
However, the one that I am really waiting to hear about is coming from the makers of the Siri, Viv.ai. They are hoping to build AI as a service, similar to Bluetooth, that will be embedded in all hardware. I will leave you with the following quote from the Wired article that discusses the possibilities of Viv.ai:
"Viv...generat[es] its own code on the fly, no programmers required. Take a complicated command like “Give me a flight to Dallas with a seat that Shaq could fit in.” Viv will parse the sentence and then it will perform its best trick: automatically generating a quick, efficient program to link third-party sources of information together—say, Kayak, SeatGuru, and the NBA media guide—so it can identify available flights with lots of legroom. And it can do all of this in a fraction of a second."