AI will be a multi-trillion-dollar industry by 2060, creating a $6 trillion, 7.5 percent share of global GDP just in the early years.

The idea of spending so much money on AI is both exciting and terrifying to many. “We live in a world where we have made very good progress in AI, but only a minority of people are getting rich from it,” says Peter Norvig, an AI and machine learning researcher and the creator of the NoSQL database MySQL. “If we get this investment, we will probably get a lot more.”

But as Norvig notes, we are not yet on track to a trillion-dollar AI industry. Governments are still figuring out how to fund the massive costs of deploying AI, and we live in a world where the technology is still being developed in a way that humans can access. 

In 2015, the Pentagon spent $5 billion on the DARPA Synthetic Aperture System, which attempted to develop a robotic system that could be used in the space and ground warfare domains, but the program was cancelled after funding ran out. 

In 2018, the United States spent $40 million to launch a program to build a machine learning platform for drones. So far, so good. But the United States is just the tip of the AI iceberg. It’s a world of billions of developers, investors, and users, all working to make the technology, in the words of Norvig, “appreciable in real life.”