What is “A.I. Powered” Anyways?

You’ve gone to the store to buy a bar of soap. You approach the soap aisle and find dozens of varieties of soap.

You’re about to grab your standard go-to, when you notice something. Right next to your favorite soap is a brand that claims to be “all-natural.”

Naturally, you’re curious. You pick up the “all-natural” soap and flip it over to scan the ingredients. They’re almost exactly the same as your favorite soap apart from one thing: “natural perfumes.”

Comparing the cost, you wisely put it back and take home your favorite soap.

Now, not every product that claims to be “all-natural” is using complete B.S. marketing. But there are brands out there willing to fudge the truth just to sell you their product (hello “gluten-free rice! I’m looking at you!).

Just like the “all-natural” tag, so many tech companies are claiming their products are “A.I.-powered” or “smart.” Are they using weasel words or are they being genuine? How can you tell? Let’s feed this to your resident human intelligence (me) here at Shoemoney.com and find out.

1. Can We Even Define Artificial Intelligence?

The answer to this question is so complicated, entire books have been written on the topic. In fact, I plan on returning to an article on TechCrunch just as soon as I’m done writing this and the article is yuge!

The problem with defining artificial intelligence: we can’t really define intelligence.

Yeah, we can, along certain assumptions quantify your problem-solving skills and your common sense call that quotient intelligence. But even the philosophers couldn’t parse what exactly intelligence is.

Thus if we can’t define human intelligence, then how are we going to define artificial intelligence?

The answer seems to be “you know it when you see it.” If a machine is acting human in any way shape or form, we tend to call that artificial intelligence.

Even if the machine is just mimicking human behavior such as a bot that can simulate human conversation or a robot that can run on and navigate technical terrain. Those are obvious examples of artificial intelligence.

All forms of artificial intelligence today are likely just programs designed for a specific task. They’re really no different than any other computer. Their tasks might be more complicated than your typical program’s task, but they’re still unaware computer software programs.

2. Is the Label “A.I.-Powered” B.S.?

Not necessarily. While the label is likely overused in techland, it’s not always inaccurate or deceitful.

Programs like Looka and their logo-maker or Overdrive Library’s Libby bot do their human-like tasks flawlessly. Looka takes your preferences for design, color, and shape and then creates logos based on those preferences.

Libby keeps track of your reading habits and suggests books you could download. She’s also a chat bot who can chain various tasks together so you don’t have to navigate too many menus.

In instances like these, we’re using complicated programs to streamline and automate our own online tasks. And that’s honestly what most companies mean by “A.I. Powered.”

Consider the implications of the words “A.I. Powered.” Have you ever read a fictional story about an incompetent artificial intelligence? Most stories we tell talk about evil A.I. or dangerous A.I. but they’re always capable of doing what they set out to do even if that means taking over or destroying the world.

Thus, when someone labels their company as “A.I. Powered,” they’re really saying, “we’re a competent company” or “we get the job done in a more efficient way.”

Sometimes this is true. Sometimes it’s not. Not all automation is created equal and even if you streamline your processes, the human is still in charge. Thus, if the humans are incompetent, it doesn’t matter how competent the A.I. is (at least in most cases).


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