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Artificial Intelligence Hype Frenetic – But not all bad – according to the FT

By Andrew White | December 05, 2018 | 0 Comments

Special Purpose Technology (SPT)General Purpose Technology (GPT)Artificial IntelligenceAI/ML

I was delighted to see our Hype Cycle for Artificial Intelligence referred to in an Opinion piece in today’s US print edition of the Financial Times.  The article Hype about artificial intelligence brings policy benefits, by the FTs’ John Thornhill nicely captures the state of “AI” – whatever that really means – and he relates the fact that excessive hype has a positive side: Policy wonks tend to get all focused on the stuff that everyone talks about.

More interestingly Mr.Thornhill nods to ““Amara’s law”, which states that we often overestimate the impact of emerging technologies in the short run and underestimate it in the long run.”  This is indeed true of many, if not all, technologies.  AI is little different.  Today the market is enamored with the promise of AI, yet in truth its value is at best very limited and targeted at specific business problems or opportunities.  As such the market is trying to get value from special purpose technology (SPT) at a time when that technology is best thought of as a general purpose technology (GPT).  Demand and expectations are out of line with reality.  See The Good and Bad News about Investment (in Technology) in America for an explanation of SPTs versus GPTs.

At some point in our future, those expectations may be aligned as we all figure out how to get value from special purpose application of AI; and more artificial general intelligence as a GPT yields real business benefit.  Question is, when will that happen?  No one really knows – but there are forecasts.

Related blog: Where You Spend Your Firms’ Capital Matters



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