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 }— 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 13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Voters in Wisconsin, Michigan urged to return absentee ballots to drop boxes

Signs for Joe Biden are seen outside a home in Coon Valle, Wisconsin, on Oct. 3. Photo by KEREM YUCEL via Getty

Wisconsin Democrats and the Democratic attorney general of Michigan are urging voters to return absentee ballots to election clerks’ offices or drop boxes, warning that the USPS may not be able to deliver ballots by the Election Day deadline.

Driving the news: The Supreme Court rejected an effort by Wisconsin Democrats and civil rights groups to extend the state's deadline for counting absentee ballots to six days after Election Day, as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3. In Michigan, absentee ballots must also be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted.

21 mins ago - Technology

Facebook warns of "perception hacks" undermining trust in democracy

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Facebook warned Tuesday that bad actors are increasingly taking to social media to create the false perception that they’ve pulled off major hacks of electoral systems or have otherwise seriously disrupted elections.

Why it matters: "Perception hacking," as Facebook calls it, can have dire consequences on people's faith in democracy, sowing distrust, division and confusion among the voters it targets.

Obama: Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage"

Former President Barack Obama launched a blistering attack on President Trump while campaigning for Joe Biden in Orlando on Tuesday, criticizing Trump for complaining about the pandemic as cases soar and joking that he's "jealous of COVID's media coverage."

Driving the news: Trump has baselessly accused the news media of only focusing on covering the coronavirus pandemic — which has killed over 226,000 Americans so far and is surging across the country once again — as a way to deter people from voting on Election Day and distract from other issues.