The next year or two will see continued breakthroughs in the core technology, but perhaps more important, an explosion of applications for DL in sectors throughout the economy. One of the people I interviewed, Andrew Ng, has several initiatives designed to accelerate this progress: Landing.ai is bringing deep learning to manufacturing, while the AI Fund is incubating new ideas that will eventually be scaled up to startup companies focused on a variety of areas.
Over the next 5-10 years, DL will likely evolve into a true general-purpose technology. It will be almost like electricity, and it will become increasingly indispensable in nearly every aspect of the economy, science and culture.
We should also be prepared for the possibility of truly disruptive breakthroughs over this longer time frame. Ray Kurzweil, for example, believes we may be able to achieve human-level machine intelligence within 11 years. That is an aggressive prediction, but we should expect remarkable progress with huge implications for the economy and society. The potential for a great many more routine and predictable jobs to be automated is one area that I have focused on a great deal both in my previous book Rise of the Robots, and in Architects of Intelligence. I believe we need to begin a conversation about how we can adapt our society and economy to the implications of these technologies.