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The inexorable march of AI

John Krafcik, CEO of Google's self-driving car project, discusses the future of mobility at the Nikkei Innovation Forum in East Palo Alto, U.S., on Oct. 26. (Photo by Shinya Sawai)

EAST PALO ALTO, U.S. "Artificial intelligence" is on the lips of policymakers and business leaders, many of whom consider it the next big thing. But this is not the first time AI has shot to prominence.

It became a hot topic in the 1940s, then again in the 1980s. Each time, AI faded away as a technology not yet up to scratch.

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