Among this year's biggest trends in Silicon Valley, perhaps one that's gotten the most buzz is artificial intelligence.
Many people have become frightened by AI's range of possibilities -- and not just because tech's frightful five (Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) , Facebook Inc. (FB) , Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) , Microsoft Inc. (MSFT) and Apple Inc. (AAPL) ) became early adopters of AI. Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk, who dabbles in other, equally scary technology like self-driving cars has been one of AI's staunchest critics, calling it an existential threat to the human race.
But Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng, who previously founded Google's AI-powered Brain project and served as chief scientist of Baidu (BIDU) , is much more optimistic. Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt on Wednesday, Ng detailed how AI is pegged to change the world for the better. It also won't just be limited to Silicon Valley.
Ng has said several times that he believes AI has the possibility to be the new electricity, in that it will transform every system and aspect of humans' lives, ranging from transportation and communication to agriculture, education and health care, among many others.
"I think today we see a surprisingly clear path for AI tools ... they'll transform pretty much every single industry," Ng explained. "I actually find it difficult to name an industry that I don't think AI will transform."
He's not the only AI futurist that's bullish on the technology's future. Google AI chief John Giannandrea echoed some of Ng's beliefs at TechCrunch on Tuesday, venturing to say that comments from folks like Musk are overblown and "borderline irresponsible."
Tech companies have already made monumental progress in artificial intelligence, introducing it into key software and hardware like voice-activated assistants, chat bots and search engines, to name a few. Ng envisions a future where AI is integrated into a wide variety of useful products that ultimately advances all our lives. One example he gave was using AI to improve water quality or water supply.
With big tasks like that ripe for AI disruption, Ng contends that it's not just the tech giants who will play a part in AI's future. One part of that is educating more and more companies on how they can integrate artificial intelligence into their processes. Ng now teaches online classes on machine learning, deep learning and other AI tools to help do that.
"One thing that became clear to me is that not one company, not even a large technology company, can do all the work that enables society to use AI better," Ng said. "So that's why over the last several several months, I decided to focus on teaching a new set of courses ... because I really think that to create a future AI powered society, it really needs millions of engineers, millions of you, in order to transform all these things across society."