The naming of Ray Kurzweil as Google’s new director of engineering in late 2012 may not have registered as even a blip on the radar of many digital content companies (DCCs). But this simple hiring announcement concerning the famous futurist, author, and inventor may, in fact, represent a symbolic milestone in the rapidly changing information age. Because it’s yet another sign that smart DCCs-including Google-value the promise and potential of artificial intelligence (AI), which Kurzweil has long preached has the capacity to greatly enhance our lives.
Only a few years ago, the concept of "artificial intelligence"-which computer science pioneer John McCarthy defined as "the science and engineering of making intelligent machines"-was thought of as elusive, fantastically futuristic and relegated to the realm of science fiction. But AI is ubiquitous today across many levels of technology, including electronic content. It’s in the ingredients behind voice recognition and language translation software, search engine aggregation, turn-by-turn instructions on GPS devices, and product recommendations generated from online purchases. And it has the ability to transform the way DCCs do business in the near- and long-term future, say the experts.