Computer technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are practically coevals, having both originated in the post-WWII period. However, unlike computer tech, which has enjoyed specular uninterrupted growth, AI has gone through several near-extinction periods when, owing to the lack of obvious progress in the field, interest from the industry evaporated and academic research funding dwindled. Another period of optimism and activity would inevitably follow, but no one knew in advance how long it would last. The field was thus progressing in starts and fits, bouncing back and forth between "AI summers" and "AI winters."
We are currently in the midst of one of the longest "summer" periods and many in the trade think it's going to be permanent. Maybe. Only time will tell.
This particular AI season started around 2010, when cheap data storage, combined with performance breakthroughs in machine learning (ML) algorithms engendered an explosion of activity in this field based on a set of technologies referred to as "big data." The current season's buzzword is "deep learning" and, as Yann LeCunn (PAR / NYC) has pointed out, whereas before 2010 any article that featured it would almost automatically get rejected by most academic journals, very shortly afterward, the same fate would befall authors who didn't mention deep learning somewhere.
The main AI/Tech hubs are listed below. In the section under the list and the map, I briefly profile each of the cities on the list and give the associated orgnizations and researchers.
The following highlights some of the research organizations involved in AI research, grouped by metro area.
The Bay Area, in addition to being the biggest startup incubator in the whole world, is also home to many Silicon Valley institutions active in the field of AI. The
The Greater Boston area, with its links to the MIT, is another global AI hub.
It was a team of Toronto researchers that was largely responsible for launching the current boom in AI with the publication of one experimental result on image processing. Since 2012, the year when this particular encouraging result was published, the whole field of AI has been largely about "deep learning" – to the exclusion of pretty much every other sub-field and much to the chagrin to the many researchers who happen to work on the currently-out-of-fashion topics.
Home of Microsoft and Paul Allen-founded "Institute for AI."
Paris is a major European AI Center. However, things are done a bit differently in France. With less reliance of private capital and more – on government-funded programs, French researchers are finding themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to the scale of funding and the size of their paychecks. Nevertheless, a wide variety of projects, both public and private, are ongoing.
For several years now, London leads European capitals in terms of the numbers of AI-flavored startups.
Much like London, Berlin is a major startup hub in Europe. Many of the startups are AI-focused.