Advances in AI continue to polarize techies and business leaders

Every few years we come across a technology that has begun to graduate from a buzz-word by solving real-world problems. Earlier this year we ranked trends in Artificial Intelligence (AI) among the “Top 25 Digital Startup ideas and technologies for 2017.” The potential for artificial intelligence has been imagined by science fiction writers and Hollywood directors for decades. AI has been in Research and Development (R&D) for nearly three decades and computer science researchers are beginning to visualize use cases across industry verticals.

We seem to have reached the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” when it comes to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and allied technologies.

Proponents of AI point to unique and innovative examples of AI and Machine learning in a variety of industry segments including finance, banking manufacturing etc. Proponents highlight case studies with innovations in better vision systems, speech recognition, intelligent problem solving, intelligent chat bots, and many other capabilities that machine learning delivers.

Business media is really gung-ho. For instance, CNBC ran a popular series “Artificial intelligence positioned to be a game-changer,” with a look at IBM’s Watson. IBM’s AI based robot, Sophia continues to make the rounds of TV talk shows, almost like a newly minted celebrity.

The opponents of ‘AI hype’ are equally vocal since AI has generated lots of unrealistic expectations. Authors of a recent HBR article on AI concede

“We see business plans liberally sprinkled with references to machine learning, neural nets, and other forms of the technology, with little connection to its real capabilities. Simply calling a dating site “AI-powered,” for example, doesn’t make it any more effective, but it might help with fundraising. This article will cut through the noise to describe the real potential of AI, its practical implications, and the barriers to its adoption.”

AI has also polarized tech leaders. Tech visionaries and Billionaires Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are publicly sparring over AI and its capabilities and risks. Ref: Billionaire burn: Musk says Zuckerberg’s understanding of AI threat ‘is limited’

Zuckerberg blasts @elonmusk warnings against artificial intelligence as ‘pretty irresponsible’ @svbizjournal #ai
— Darren Cunningham (@dcunni) July 25, 2017

About a week ago, Mr Musk set the ball rolling. (ref: “Elon Musk doesn’t think we’re prepared to face humanity’s biggest threat: Artificial intelligence)

Musk’s tweet was a response to a Facebook live broadcast that Zuckerberg did during a backyard grilling session Sunday in which he was asked about Musk’s strident warnings surrounding AI. Without mentioning Musk by name, Zuckerberg called such warnings “really negative” and “pretty irresponsible.”

Bottomline: Regardless of which side of the debate you are in, we should continue to scan the landscape for advances in AI that have potential to impact all of us.

Compiled and Edited by: Mohan K

Originally published at on July 26, 2017.