Artificial intelligence technologies are set to explode in 2017. Improvements in big data collection and storage, computing power and algorithms will combine with major investments by tech companies to create machines that are ever-more-capable of thinking like humans.

Artificial intelligence systems, an umbrella term for various evolving technologies that involve human-like learning and reasoning ability, are being applied to myriad applications across sectors, from self-driving cars and drones to financial market transactions and medical diagnostics.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Intel...