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Tech companies are racing to announce new products, research labs and acquisitions in the AI race. Another sign of the the acceleration of the business world's embrace of all things AI is captured by this Bloomberg chart showing the sharp spike of companies mentioning the technology in their earnings calls.

Business-Focus on Artificial Intelligence Rising: {Analysis on Terminal https://t.co/BoEggN4PY4 } pic.twitter.com/MFm4nVMUBM— Michael McDonough (@M_McDonough) February 28, 2017

Latest examples: Just in the past few days, companies have made AI-driven announcements, such as Pinterest launching a research lab focusing on the technology, and Facebook harnessing AI tools to help prevent suicides on its Live platform. Artificial intelligence is reshaping online retailers' shopping tools. Amazon, Google and Apple are competing to make the best AI-powered personal assistants and they're all buying AI companies to boost their capabilities. Of course, AI is the technology behind autonomous cars being developed by tech companies and car makers across the board.

Why is it taking off? Sandhya Venkatachalam, a general partner at Centerview Capital, laid out these factors in a Forbes column:

  • All devices are connected: Sensors are being put in to everything, turning buildings, machines, homes and clothes into mini-devices able to send data and receive instructions.
  • Computing is cheaper: That means there'll be a processor in everything, and it will be possible to string cheap processors together to get computing scale needed to solve complicated problems "that were unthinkable even a few years ago."
  • Data is super valuable: Connected devices are all generating data all day long, and all that data helps machines learn quickly.
  • Machine learning advances: This is how algorithms discover new patterns in data so machines can predict future outcomes. New machine learning models are better able to take advantage of all the new data being generated.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."