While most of our annual AI hype “awards” list is dedicated to some of the many examples of hype that slither through the news stream unquestioned, I am happy to point out a reassuring trend as well—more media are asking critical questions. While Mind Matters News has been exposing unquestioned AI hype since mid-2018, this year I’ve noticed a hopeful uptrend in the number of stories in other media questioning or exposing the hype. Here are some examples:
Seth Borenstein notes at AP the limitations of machines in making/understanding jokes: “No AI in humor: R2-D2 walks into a bar, doesn’t get the joke” (March)
Rachel Lerman, another AP reporter, points out the problems that come with making robots that display emotions they don’t have: “Be wary of robot emotions; ‘simulated love is never love’” (May)
At Venturebeat, Evan Kohn notes that we need technology that serves humanity and the goal of appearing “life-like” is both unrealistic and counterproductive, as it leads to false expectations for our interactions: “AI doesn’t need to be more human to serve human needs. It’s time for companies to stop obsessing over how closely their AI approximates real people and start focusing on the real strengths that this transformative technology can bring to consumers, businesses, and society.” Techradar points out that the best AI software needs humans to function well, and that this is a feature, not a bug. (May)
At Forbes: Overhyped AI in cybersecurity is criticized:
“Machine Learning And Artificial Intelligence In Cybersecurity: Hype Versus Reality”: “we are still far away from naming AI/ML the panacea for preventing all cyber threats” (June)
Even Wired, which usually dials up the AI hype to 11 when reporting a story, is starting to sound more realistic: “Artificial Intelligence May Not ‘Hallucinate’ After All — What makes an algorithm mistake a helicopter for a gun? Researchers think the answer has to do more with man than machine.” (May)
One factor in the growing sobriety may be that, as AI technology transitions from dreams to reality, the future belongs to leaders who are pragmatic about its abilities and limitations.
Counting back: 2019 AI Hype Countdown
9: Hype fought the law and… Autonomy had real software but the hype around Big Data had discouraged Hewlett Packard from taking a closer look. Autonomy CFO Sushovan Hussain was sentenced this year to a five year prison term and a ten million dollar fine because he was held “ultimately responsible for Autonomy’s revenues having been overinflated by $193m between 2009 and the first half of fiscal 2011.”
10: Sophia the Robot still gives “interviews” In other news, few popular media ask critical questions. As a humanoid robot, Sophia certainly represents some impressive engineering. It is sad that the engineering fronts ridiculous claims about the state of AI, using partially scripted interactions as if they were real communication.