Only a few years ago, intelligent technologies for speech recognition and internet-supplied recommendations (e.g. via Amazon) were so ineffective that their use was rare and by only a few. Since then, these technologies have enjoyed a very active period of innovation, and are now relied upon daily by millions of people around the world. In this lecture, intended for a general audience, I will describe how intelligent systems of this kind are built through the clever use of optimization algorithms and vast amounts of data. In particular, two live interactive demos will be given to illustrate the challenges ahead. The lecture will conclude with the interesting observation that these same optimization algorithms are also leading to important advances in other spheres, including Formula-1 auto racing and weather prediction. Reception immediately following.