October 15, 2019

Don't Believe All the Hype About Artificial Intelligence

“The World Economic Forum annual meeting convenes this week in Davos, Switzerland. (I’m skipping this year; there’s a lot to be done in the office.) One of the biggest topics on the 2019 agenda, as it was last year, is artificial intelligence. That’s because A.I. is at once an irrefutably important technological trend sweeping the business world and the subject of a commensurate amount of hype.

After all, an immutable law of technology and business is that any complicated development brings with it self-proclaimed priests of said subject intent on frightening the less-informed into buying their goods and services. A corollary to this law is that the program in Davos will include oodles of panels devoted to the subject. As I note in this article from the current issue of Fortune, no fewer than 11 sessions reference A.I. this year. Enlightenment isn’t promised to follow.”

A.I. is no hoax. Hype is the natural byproduct of innovations that can make people money. The point, as various experts explain in my article, is to understand what A.I. can do—discrete tasks its designers have trained it to learn to do—and what it can’t, just about anything that requires the human qualities of nuance, empathy, or wisdom.”

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