Man working with AI technology

Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) Overhyped Today in 2020?

Over the last couple of years, perhaps the most significant trend that we’ve seen shape the digital world has to be the implementation of artificial intelligence.

Whether we realize it or not, multiple aspects of our modern lives are deeply rooted within AI technology. From the smart assistants we’ve got installed on our mobile devices, to the massive role that AI plays in the cybersecurity infrastructure within organizations, it seems that enterprises are only just realizing the potential of AI implementation, and jumping on the artificial intelligence bandwagon as quickly as they can.

As an increasing number of both companies and individuals interact with AI, there’s a substantial amount of hype associated with this modern piece of tech. Despite the emergence of some of the most remarkable capabilities of AI, along with real-life implementation of the technology by governments and enterprises, there’s a general air of skepticism as far as believing the ‘miraculous’ benefits of AI is concerned. That’s what we’re going to address in this article.

While most of the reporting revolving around AI concerns the whopping amount of investments being made into AI research by VC firms and companies – instead of getting caught up in the hype generated by the media, we’d suggest that organizations and individuals scrutinize the legitimacy of these monumental claims being made, and ask themselves the following questions:

  • Are these massive big-dollar investments in AI research justified?
  • Does the hype surrounding AI hold up against the recent successes of the technology?
  • Are consumers and companies making AI-related decisions based solely on the hype surrounding AI?

When it comes to devising answers for each of these questions, we’ll need to look at the situation from different angles, and account for present-day AI adoption, as well as the motivations that firms and companies might have for making such massive investments in AI research. In an attempt to aid our readers, however, we’ve explored the answers to all these questions, so that you can judge whether or not the AI technology is overhyped.

How well is AI adoption doing in the present?

Although AI has only made its way into the mainstream over the last couple of years, the fundamental concept of modern-day AI implementation has been around for quite a significant amount of time, going back as far as several decades.

With that being said, however, the development, and consequently, the implementation of artificial intelligence, occur across waves. If we were to consider the present-day, mainstream amalgamation of AI as the latest wave, it becomes quite apparent that AI is enjoying an unprecedented level of success, which is further made evident by the fact that AI research is garnering vast amounts of investments from the smallest of companies, to large corporate entities.

Contrary to what Hollywood and science fiction would have us believe, AI-adoption amidst the present-day digital landscape is rather dull and mundane in nature. Unfortunately, whereas that might imply that we still haven’t reached the point where we’ve got AI-powered robots roaming Earth, it does paint a positive picture of what we have managed to do with AI so far.

Instead of formulating an AI-science fiction fantasy, we’ve found that the best implementations of artificial intelligence revolve around the most menial tasks, such as advanced predictive analytics solutions, or the ever-boring assignment of document classification.

Despite the aforementioned real-world applications of AI offering a lucrative solution to most problems faced by enterprises on a day-to-day basis, they rarely ever make the news, because the fact of the matter is that no one wants to read about the ‘boring’ implementation of AI.

But that ‘boring’ implementation of AI improved the way some businesses operate. Not every AI company is research-driven like OpenAI or DeepMind in London. For example, the practical applications of AI/ML algorithms have helped several leading web hosting providers in the U.K. improve their security because of its advanced firewall technology, as well as domain performance and accuracy. Web hosting companies can now detect malware or intruders a lot faster, which helps them prevent security threats such as data breaches.

Instead of shining the light on this highly beneficial execution of AI in solving menial tasks, headlines are littered with news about humanoid robots, AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), or anything else that stays in line with the science fiction fantasy that we envision when we think of AI.

Not only do these headlines promote the general, misplaced belief that AI somehow only follows a free pattern, which could not be further away from the truth, since a free pattern takes a long time to implement and completely eradicates the need for human insight. If it hadn’t caused enough damage, this extravagant reporting of information often ends up in AI companies making promises they can’t keep, which paves the way for an agitated consumer base to raise several questions about the integrity of AI.

AI is still evolving and making much-needed changes within the digital landscape. Contrary to what headlines may be reporting- the most widely-implemented and appreciated uses of artificial intelligence involve augmented intelligence, in which human input is still welcome in the loop, rather than the proliferation of autonomous systems, which take a much longer time to implement.

Will companies and firms see a return on their AI investments?

As we’ve already mentioned, the AI industry has turned itself into nothing short of a gold mine for investments. With investments originating from small companies to massive corporations, the field of artificial intelligence has been brimming with investments from all across the board.

To further put things into perspective, let’s take into account the statistic that in 2010, the average early-stage round for AI startups amounted to a measly $4.8 million. By 2017, however, the amount of funding received by AI had spiked to a whopping $11.7 million, which indicates more than a 200 percent increase. Furthermore, the investments being made in AI reached an all-time high in 2018, with a staggering $9.3 billion raised by the AI industry.

As money gets pumped into these AI startups, it is only fair that venture capitalists seek to see returns on the investments that they’ve made. Although we haven’t precisely started seeing the types of performances expected, there is still a shift in the AI and automation marketplace, as consolidation arises from both large and small companies alike.

Two examples of the consolidation offered by AI companies can be seen in 1) autonomous vehicles, and 2) fintech applications. First, Mighty AI – a company that focused on devising training data to be used in computer vision models for autonomous vehicles was acquired by Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group in June 2019, to aid the company in their transition to self-driving cars. Similarly, in May of this year, Microsoft acquired the RPA vendor Softomotive, to help the tech giant expand the low-code robotic automation capabilities of the Microsoft Power Automate. Second, the proliferation of low-cost or outright free stock trading apps has allowed many novice traders to integrate AI/ML “bots” and make high volumes of small stop-loss orders.

If these consolidations weren’t daunting enough, a similar phenomenon is taking place in the robotics industry, with some robotics companies struggling to gather a decent amount of funding. A reason why companies (regardless of their size) were eager to jump on the AI bandwagon and make such monumental investments was because of the hype that surrounded the tech. More recently, the trend seems to be changing, as companies are now eager to see an improvement on key financial KPIs – namely, a return on the investment that they made – which explains the consolidations taking place across the industry.

Parting words

As more and more enterprises adopt and implement AI within their organizations, it is only natural for consumers and companies to question the legitimacy of the grand claims made concerning AI. As we move forward in an AI-centric world, it is high time that companies forego the hype surrounding AI, and work on creating real-time solutions that help promote security, as well as efficiency within an organization.