Is A.I Really All It’s Cracked Up To Be?

You don’t have to look very far to have the buzzword artificial intelligence (AI) pushed in your face these days. Finance firms, business analysts, science fiction movies, graphics card companies and more. All claim to use AI, often in extremely vague ways. More to the point, the word is used as synonymous with magic, as if the technology has the potential to solve virtually every problem under the sun.

But is AI really all it’s cracked up to be? The short answer is; no. The longer answer would be; that really does depend on what you’re referring to. Since the term AI has become so widely adapted, and the definitions so vague, it is difficult to even know what companies are talking about. Is the AI that Nvidia uses to produce better graphics the same used in self-driving cars? Obviously not. So why is the same vague term used?

What Is AI?

What indeed. You’ll be hard pressed to find an exact definition, given that, at this point, most of the companies pushing AI in their marketing don’t know themselves. Most explanations throw out big words along with vague explanations, further increasing already inflated hype. Many companies are even repackaging existing, often old products, simply to throw the word AI in. It need not be said that a business built on deception isn’t going to go very far, especially when customers start catching on that a lot of lying is going on.

So what is AI? Depending on where it is being used, AI is an algorithm, or set of predetermined instructions, combined with the revolutionary factor that the algorithm may self-adjust. Yes, it is revolutionary, but far from being a magic cure for cancer, as some marketing outlets will un-ironically claim. The trick is that the algorithms can be written for almost countless purposes, making the technology extremely versatile.

AI could, for example, be written to predict soccer betting odds, improve the quality of a photograph, automatically file databases, or even somewhat clumsily write a movie script. It is all possible, but none of it magic. AI is a prewritten algorithm, designed by a human, thereby having any and all flaws written in by that human programmer.

Incoming Bubble Burst Crisis

The more a vague and largely misunderstood technology is pushed, and the more invest in it blindly, the bigger the likelihood a bubble will soon burst. The .com bubble is the most infamous example, which saw millions in dollars thrown into the largely misunderstood technology of the internet. Between the mid-90s and early 2000s the internet was being pushed as hard as AI is now, only for the .com hype to all come crashing down.

How long it takes for investors to start realising that AI really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be remains to be seen, but if the .com bubble is anything to go by it shouldn’t be much longer. Which isn’t to say AI will disappear, or that it isn’t a legitimately powerful technology. Just that it won’t be curing cancer any time soon.