AI Suffers the Slings and Arrow of Outrageous Marketing

March 19, 2021

I read “Loose Lips Sink AI Ships.” Amusing. The write up begins with a sentence designed to catch my attention:

Cognitive computing is not an IBM fraud. [Emphasis added. Editor.]

Imagine. IBM and fraud in the same sentence. Even more tasty is the phrase “cognitive computing.” The phrase evokes zeros and ones which think. The implication is that smart computers are as good as a mere mortal, perhaps even better at some things.

Fraud. Hmmm.

The write up explains that one naysayer is missing the boat. The naysayer took umbrage as a marketing person’s characterization of IBM Watson artificial intelligence platform being able to “outthink human brains in areas where finding insights and connections can be difficult due to the abundance of data.”

My goodness. A marketing person exaggerating. Plus the “abundance” word evokes the image of a tsunami of information. That’s an original metaphor too.

The write up explains that AI is a whiz bang deal. The case example is Covid research. I was hoping that the author would explain how IBM Watson was lashed to a gurney and wheeled into the parking lot at a major Houston, Texas, hospital. But no. The example was Covid.

The write up explains that AI is better with bigger and faster computers. That’s good news for some companies. Also, computer reasoning is “increasing quickly.” I like increased reasoning.

There is some less than sunny news too. What a surprise. For example, neural networks are clever, not intelligent. Clever was good enough for the Google, but not enough for real AI yet. And AI systems mimic human intelligence; the systems are not quite like your next door neighbor. (I think computers are quite like my next door neighbor, but I live in rural Kentucky. That’s a consideration.)

The write up seems to strive for balance if one relates to big data, big computers, and big marketing.

Let’s ask Watson? Well, maybe not.

Stephen E Arnold, March 19, 2021


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