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


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.

here 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.

This recent flowering of AI into a buzzword fit to be crammed onto every bulleted list of features has to do at least partly with the conflation of neural networks with artificial intelligence. Without getting too into the weeds, the two aren’t interchangeable, but marketers treat them as if they are.

Read the source article at TechCrunch.