Here’s How Much Companies Are Spending on Artificial Intelligence: Eye on AI

Let others decide. Amazon’s chief technology officer Werner Vogels told the BBC that he doesn’t believe it’s his company’s responsibility to ensure that …

Some companies are spending over $5 million on artificial-intelligence projects, showing just how serious businesses are getting about the cutting-edge technology.

The finding comes from a recent survey of over 300 companies by Figure Eight, a business that was recently acquired by data company Appen that helps customers label their data. The results provide a glimpse into how quickly companies are adopting A.I. and some of the related complications.

Over half the respondents said they oversee an annual A.I. budget of at least $51,000. Meanwhile, 13% said they control A.I. budgets of $251,000 to $500,000, an amount that reflects a modest commitment and likely small staff.

Five percent said they’re spending over $5 million. That would imply a huge operation that rivals spending on corporate tech basics like some cybersecurity products.

Although the survey didn’t get into how that money is being spent, Figure Eight vice president of marketing Sid Mistry speculates that the budgets include capturing and labeling data, building and running machine-learning models, and then improving the models’ performance over time.

The survey also found that data scientists and machine-learning engineers are surprisingly unhappy. About 30% of data scientists said they were either unsatisfied or somewhat satisfied with their jobs.

This is despite the fact that data crunching is one of the most in-demand jobs. Annual salaries average around $120,000, which is well above the norm.

Mistry speculated that data scientists may be growing increasingly frustrated because of the greater number of business leaders parachuting into A.I. projects. Amid the growing hype over A.I., more companies are considering A.I. core to their survival and are giving once largely autonomous projects greater scrutiny.

“Three years ago, I don’t think people would have figured out how to spell A.I.,” Mistry said.

Jonathan Vanian

@JonathanVanian

jonathan.vanian@fortune.com

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