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32 artificial intelligence companies building a smarter tomorrow

From Google and Amazon to Apple and Microsoft, every major tech company is dedicating resources to breakthroughs in artificial intelligence.

Meanwhile, revolutionary breakthroughs like self-driving cars may not be the norm, but are certainly within reach.  As the big guys scramble to infuse their products with artificial intelligence, other companies are hard at work developing their own intelligent technology and services.

By highlighting only the most relevant and interesting information, businesses can make quicker decisions regardless of the staff's experience with data or analytics.

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Using non-invasive blood tests, the company’s AI technology recognizes disease-associated patterns, providing earlier cancer detection and better treatment options.

Industry: Fintech Location: New York, New York What it does: AlphaSense is an AI-powered search engine designed to help investment firms, banks and Fortune 500 companies find important information within transcripts, filings, news and research. The technology uses artificial intelligence to expand keyword searches for relevant content.

Its LiDAR technology focuses on the most important information in a vehicle’s sightline such as people, other cars and animals, while putting less emphasis on things like the sky, buildings and surrounding vegetation.

By fusing problem solving, learning and memory technologies together, the company can build systems that learn and adapt without human assistance.

Called CARA A.I., the company's tech can search within the language, jurisdiction and citations of a user's uploaded documents and return relevant searches from the database.

Industry: Cloud, Robotics Location: Santa Clara, California What it does: CloudMinds provides cloud robot services for the finance, healthcare, manufacturing, power utilities, public sector and enterprise mobility industries.

Its cloud-based AI uses advanced algorithms, large-scale neural networks and training data to make smarter robots for image and object recognition, natural language processing, speech recognition and more.

The company's 'human-in-the-loop' platform uses human intelligence to train and test machine learning, and has powered AI projects for major companies like Oracle, Ebay SAP and Adobe.

From financial and insurance needs to travel and healthcare, the intelligent products perform duties and answer questions for tech support, billing, scheduling, purchases and policy information.

Industry: Big Data, Software Location: Mountain View, California What it does: Orbital Insight uses geospatial imagery and artificial intelligence to answer questions and gain insights invisible to the naked eye. Using data from satellites, drones, balloons and other aircrafts, the company can provide insights and forecasts to the agriculture and energy industries that normally wouldn’t be available.

Industry: Software Location: San Francisco, California What it does: OpenAI is a nonprofit research company with a mission to create safe artificial general intelligence (AGI). AGI aims to create machines with general purpose intelligence similar to human beings. With a focus on long-term research and transparency, OpenAI hopes to advance AGI safely and responsibly.

Sift uses thousands of data points from around the web to train in detecting fraud patterns. The technology helps payment processors, marketplaces, e-commerce stores and even social networks prevent fraud.

The company, which boasts a mission to eventually create machines that surpass human intelligence, has serious backing from tech titans like Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

Industry: Software, Healthtech Location: Berkeley, California (US office) What it does: Zebra Medical Vision develops technology for radiology and medical imaging, enhancing the diagnostic abilities of radiologists while maximizing focus on patient care.

These algorithms will ultimately help medical professionals detect high-risk patients earlier and manage growing workloads with more accurate outcomes.

Spanning the agriculture, pharmaceutical and chemical industry, the company enables faster cultivation of microbes through automation software and a huge catalog of physical and digital DNA data.

Artificial intelligence better than humans at spotting lung cancer

Lung cancer causes almost 160,000 deaths in the United States, according to the most recent estimates.

The condition is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S., and early detection is crucial for both stopping the spread of tumors and improving patient outcomes.

In fact, some scientists argue that CT scans are superior to X-rays for lung cancer detection, and research has shown that low-dose CT (LDCT) in particular has reduced lung cancer deaths by 20%.

In the current study, the AI provided an 'automated image evaluation system' that accurately predicted the malignancy of lung nodules without any human intervention.

When prior LDCT scans were not available, the AI 'model outperformed all six radiologists with absolute reductions of 11% in false positives and 5% in false negatives,' report Tse and colleagues.

'Radiologists generally examine hundreds of 2D images or 'slices' in a single CT scan, but this new machine learning system views the lungs in a huge, single 3D image,' Dr. Etemadi says.

'Not only can we better diagnose someone with cancer, we can also say if someone doesn't have cancer, potentially saving them from an invasive, costly, and risky lung biopsy,' concludes Dr. Etemadi.

Microsoft President Brad Smith Discusses The Ethics Of Artificial Intelligence

That's the question more and more people are asking about face recognition technology, software that's already in our phones and our social media feeds and many security systems.

The company makes facial recognition software and other tools that raise some ethical dilemmas, and he's our guest on this week's All Tech Considered.

SMITH: What facial recognition services enables somebody to do is look at your image on a camera and run it against a database and identify who you are.

Microsoft researchers have worked with a Chinese military-run university on AI research that some people fear could be used against China's minorities.

We were comfortable providing facial recognition within a prison because the sample size of people involved is actually relatively small.

And there was a societally beneficial goal, namely to actually help keep prisoners safe by knowing who was where and at what time.

But when you get to the bottom foundation for all artificial intelligence, advances in machine learning and the like, we believe that that's where there are real benefits for people able to work on advancing scientific knowledge more generally.

SMITH: First, we believe we have a responsibility - even a patriotic responsibility - to provide our technology to the people who defend our country and keep us safe.

We do want the U.S. military - every military and every country - to really address in a thoughtful way the new ethical and broader public policy issues that artificial intelligence is creating.

SMITH: We live in a country where the government has learned generally well how to manage and regulate complicated products, whether it's an automobile or an airplane or a pharmaceutical product or even a drug.

And to some degree, I think that people who work in business complain about regulation the way college students complain about the food in the cafeteria.

But a world in which important products are subject to the rule of law and rules of public safety, in my view, is better than a world where there are no rules in place.

Rather than complaining about what regulation may bring or even ridiculing people who may ask the wrong question or may ask the right question the wrong way - I think we're all far too quick to criticize even our legislators if they don't ask a question precisely right.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR.

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