I just finished an interesting article in Business Week's special report on Artificial Intelligence. I have to say I totally agree with Gary Morgenthaler that AI's time has come. It's not that AI ever failed it just never really delivered. This was mostly because the hardware was too expensive. I remember when I started in AI back in the mid 1980s seeing expert systems for car fault diagnosis. These were a great idea but they never delivered because they ran on expensive Sun SPARC workstations and you couldn't imagine any neighborhood garages buying a SPARC station or your mechanic using UNIX. Now though we have processing power to spare and we can even build the diagnostic system into the car's on-board systems.
The availability of processing power really is the key, but as Gary's piece points out, you combine that with access to all the world's data and knowledge and you make it all mobile, 24x7, then you really have a game changer. We are all going to become very familiar and even reliant on AI in the decade to come.