‘Artificial Intelligence-powered’ is tech’s equivalent of ‘all natural’

‘AI-powered’ is tech’s meaningless equivalent of ‘all natural’

What does artificial intelligence have in common with the price of eggs? Say you’re trying to decide between 9 or 10 different varieties of eggs at the store. One catches your eye: “All natural.” Well, that’s nice, natural is good and they’re only 30 cents more — you buy those. Now, those chickens and the eggs they produce may or may not be more natural than the others — because there’s no official or even generally agreed-upon definition of natural . It’s a common ploy to make you pay 30 cents for nothing. That same exact thing is becoming a problem in tech — but with AI. There is no official or generally agreed-upon definition of artificial intelligence — if you’re curious about why that is, I wrote a very woolly post called WTF is AI that you might enjoy. But this lack of consensus hasn’t stopped companies great and small from including AI as a revolutionary new feature in their smart TVs, smart plugs, smart headphones, and other smart macguffins. (Smart, of course, only in the loosest sense: like most computers, they’re fundamentally dumb as rocks.) Now, there are two problems here. It’s probably not AI The first problem is this: Because AI is so poorly defined, it’s really easy to say your device or service has it and back that up with some plausible-sounding mumbo jumbo about feeding a neural network a ton of data on TV shows or water use patterns. “The term is complete bullshit,” said the CEO of a major robotics company that shall remain nameless, but certainly employs in its robots what most would agree could be called AI. It’s a marketing term used to create the perception of competence, because most people can’t conceive of an incompetent AI. Evil, perhaps (“I’m sorry, […]