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What is AI Winter?

by Stephen M. Walker II, Co-Founder / CEO

What is AI Winter?

AI Winter refers to periods of reduced interest, funding, and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). These periods are characterized by a decline in customer interest, leading to dormant periods in AI research and development. The term "winter" is used metaphorically to describe these downturns, emphasizing the cyclical nature of growth and dormancy in the field.

The history of AI has seen several such winters, each following a period of hype and high expectations. The first AI Winter occurred between 1974 and 1980, after a report stated that AI research had failed to meet its ambitious objectives, leading to a significant reduction in funding. This period followed what some have called AI's "Golden Era," a nearly 20-year period of significant interest and development in AI.

The second notable AI Winter occurred from the late 1980s to mid-90s, following a boom in the AI industry in the 1980s. This period was marked by high expectations from end users and extensive media promotion, which eventually led to disappointment when the technology failed to deliver on its promises.

However, it's important to note that these winters have also been seen as necessary periods of reflection and recalibration. They have allowed for the scrutiny of more ambitious ideas, giving regulators and the public a chance to catch up with the rapid advancements in the field.

Since the second AI Winter, the development of AI has been on a sustainable upward trajectory, with significant advances in areas like deep learning and neural networks. These successes have so far prevented the arrival of another AI Winter, largely because they have proven to be commercially viable.

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