2017 saw numerous advances in the development of Artificial Intelligence technologies, setting the stage for a massive transformative impact across the corporate landscape in 2018 and beyond. AI-powered solutions are now deciding (or helping businesses decide) what stocks to trade, how to best optimize supply chains, who to hire, probability of customer churn, brand sentiment, optimal pricing strategies and how to best model, how to monitor and manage risk, just to name a few. The corporate uses of AI are growing by the day.

Many forces brought us to this moment in time: rapid advances in the science and underlying technologies of AI, the ever-decreasing costs of computing power, and the advent of open source machine learning libraries such as TensorFlow and Torch, that have enabled adoption across a broad corporate audience. Driven by the convergence of these forces, businesses are finding themselves not only capable of creating unique AI-powered solutions (their own machine intelligence) but are actively investing in doing so.

AI will soon become fundamental to how businesses operate and compete. Andrew Ng, Co-Founder of Coursera and former Chief Scientist at Baidu, noted, “Just as electricity transformed everything 100 years ago, today I actually have a hard time thinking of an industry that I don’t think AI will transform in the next several years.” In Ng’s analogy, electricity is the fuel that powered the industrial revolution. So what is going to fuel this era of AI, and where does it come from?

The answer is straightforward and all around us: data. Massive volumes of raw data are created every second and the rate of growth is exploding. As an example, market research firm IDC predicts that the data created and copied every year will reach 180 zettabytes (180 followed by 21 zeros) by 2025. However, the fact that a massive and growing amount of data exists, does not mean that an endless supply of “AI Fuel” is automatically there for the taking. Existence does not equal usability. It first needs to be made usable.

Just as coal was mined, pulverized and burned to generate the electricity that powered the industrial revolution, data has its own analogous complex assembly line and supply chain. Data first needs to be collected, extracted, refined and ultimately transformed from its raw form into “computationally relevant fuel” before it can power the AI engines of today. Doing that at scale, presents a significant and ever-growing challenge, particularly if you are trying to handle data that is unstructured.

Analysts estimate that approximately 90% of the global data being produced is unstructured – generally meaning that the data has no predefined data format. Because businesses are designed to run on structured data inputs, the rich global corpus of ever changing unstructured data cannot be effectively used as data fuel. Instead, it is “walled off” from the world’s AI infrastructure. As a result, oceans of data, along with their information quotient, are being dropped on the floor, left untapped and inaccessible. That data being “left on the floor” is the lion’s share of the world’s data that contains some of the most valuable information in the world.

To make the vast majority of raw data usable, we must overcome the challenge of making unstructured data computationally legible and do so at scale. If unstructured data were as easily and as readily usable by a business’s intelligent machines as structured data is today, businesses could begin to look at the world, their customers and their competitors in entirely new ways.

This is where Forge.AI enters the picture as that is exactly what we do. Forge.AI transforms unstructured data into structured, real-time machine consumable streams representing the ever-changing flow of activities and events that are occuring in the world. What was once unstructured and "walled off” from your machine intelligence can now directly fuel, and be consumed by, that same machine intelligence. Doing this is not easy. The mission Forge.AI is on is a hard one, the problem we are solving is intensely challenging, but it is a problem we are well suited to solve.

I invite you to keep your eyes on this blog. We are on an exciting journey, and we want you to come along with us. We will share with you some of the items we have learned, some of the challenges we have faced and some of the science we have advanced. We hope the information you find here will prove to be helpful and insightful. And we also hope to engage in a conversation with you. So welcome and be sure to subscribe to stay up to date on all things Forge.AI.