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It's Alive!

AI isn't as sci-fi as you may think. Take a closer look at your office technology.

This story appears in the October 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Artificial intelligence: It's not just talking about robots and supercomputers that have feelings. Don't think you'll be using any AI in your business? Too late-it's already everywhere: in your copy machines, in elevators and in your modem and cell phone, just to scratch the surface. "(AI) is embedded in all kinds of things," says Kevin Dowd, president of natural language processing pioneer Brainhat. "It's changing the way you do business by virtue of the fact that it's part of the infrastructure around you." You probably don't notice it, though, because the term "AI" tends to disappear as the technology works its way into practical applications.

We've seen AI technology pop up in big companies with automated online assistants or through phone calls where you talk to a machine to navigate the menu. But some of the more noticeable AI applications, such as natural language and robotics, will work their way into growing businesses soon. If Dowd, 43, gets his way, we'll even be having deep conversations with our toasters and office buildings in a few years.

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