About 70 years after its inception, artificial intelligence is booming. No self-respecting CEO fails to mention it when discussing strategy, and investors have poured $83bn into AI start-ups since 2014. It has not got them very far.

Poster child for AI’s underwhelming addition to the lot of humankind is IBM Watson, a diagnostic tool launched with buckets of hype and promise in 2011. It combined an encyclopedic knowledge of diseases with natural language understanding, but stumbled in a mothballed $62m cancer project with MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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