Skip to Content
Artificial intelligence

Ambient AI Is About to Devour the Software Industry

December 1, 2017

Amazon has casually unveiled what could turn into a fundamentally different way to build software.

At its AWS conference in Las Vegas on Thursday, the company demoed Amazon Cloud 9, an integrated development environment (IDE) that plugs directly into its cloud computing platform.

This might seem like no big deal, but it’s actually the latest sign that cloud-based machine learning is about to take the software industry by storm—and, by extension, to rewire the entire economy. Using Amazon’s new platform, developers can collaborate in real time to tap into powerful, cloud-based AI that they can bake into a new generation of apps and Web services. This will mean learning new ways of thinking about software, and it should lead to the rise of everyday software that behaves with more intelligence.

This shift promises to be the biggest transition for the software world in decades. The easy availability of on-demand machine learning, combined with tools for automating the design and training of AI models, should, in fact, have an increasing impact on overall economic productivity, according to some economists.

This helps explain why Amazon, Google, and others are currently engaged in a desperate race to add AI to their cloud platforms, and to make the stuff as easy to use as possible. There are some cool startups in this area, including Paperspace, which lets you get up and running with deep learning on a cloud-based virtual machine in a few minutes, and Pentuum, spun out of Carnegie Mellon University.

But all this doesn’t just set the stage for a mighty battle between today’s tech titans: it’s incredibly cool to be able to fire up a browser and have your code, your data, and a whole bunch of machine learning tools at your fingertips. Tomorrow’s coders don’t know how lucky they’re going to be.

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

The viral AI avatar app Lensa undressed me—without my consent

My avatars were cartoonishly pornified, while my male colleagues got to be astronauts, explorers, and inventors.

Roomba testers feel misled after intimate images ended up on Facebook

An MIT Technology Review investigation recently revealed how images of a minor and a tester on the toilet ended up on social media. iRobot said it had consent to collect this kind of data from inside homes—but participants say otherwise.

How to spot AI-generated text

The internet is increasingly awash with text written by AI software. We need new tools to detect it.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.