AI gets written about a lot.  Its the “big data” of 2019, but very few people write about the challenges facing AI.  Is there a reason why AI will not succeed, other than the fear of cinema-scenario machines taking over the world?Lets first talk about that – machines will not be taking over the world anytime soon.  AI is pretty rudimentary right now, and the foreseeable future shows AI being a benefit that augments the ability for people to get more done.  Just think back to Back To The Future – most of what they predicted hasn’t yet manifested, and I doubt SkyNet will be coming to fruition anytime soon, either.  It might sell tickets, but its not indicative of where people are headed.

AI is a benefit if used correctly and a nuisance if it is not.  

There are lots of benefits to AI, but there are at least 2 major impediments to getting people to embrace the technology.  What I find interesting is neither of these are technology-oriented problems.   They revolve around the people who are going to fund, support and implement AI solutions in their businesses.

HIGH EXPECTATIONS

AI could suffer from increasingly higher and higher expectations.  If you talk to the average person, they think of computers with cognitive abilities that replace people in their jobs.  The fact of the matter is AI is more of a tool to increase productivity.  AI replaces the more mundane tasks in your day with machines and enables you to do more and bigger things with your time.  AI replaces optimization, simple analysis, and mundane automation.  If people expect AI to replace entire roles, they are not going to be happy.  If they conversely expect it to enable them to get more done, than they will be satisfied.  AI is a tool to solve problems, it should not create its own set of problems.

OVER-HYPE

Aligned with high expectations comes over-hyping the use of AI.  Every company under the sun is going to start touting their ability to leverage machines to get work done.  They will be looking to leverage AI to increase the perception of value in their business.  In truth, AI is not new but it has come to a level of effectiveness that warrants it being called true AI.  Unfortunately, too many companies will latch onto AI as a differentiator even though what they are doing may not be more than glorified automation processes.  This falls into the same bucket as big data and blockchain – people will talk so much about it that the majority become desensitized to the topic before it has a chance to prove its own value.

THE AI EXOSKELETON ENABLES PERFORMANCE AUGMENTATION

AI is a tool that provides strength, performance, and efficiency to the average worker.  It can automate mundane tasks and give them more impact in a shorter period of time.  It’s like the Iron Man suit that Tony Stark wears – it makes you bigger, faster and stronger, but it doesn’t replace you.  In the comics, Tony does create an entire hollow army of Iron Man suits, but they get beaten because they are literally a shell of the man who created and wears them.  It’s the same here – with technology augmenting and not replacing the average worker.The other interesting element of why AI is hotly discussed right now is voice.  Without Voice, AI is nothing but systems.  Voice is the interface for AI and it goes hand in hand with the use by consumers, whether at home or at work.  This is due to the tipping point of where we live – that we no longer have to learn the language of machines, but rather machines are learning our language.  You can speak to a machine and get things accomplished, and that makes it easier for anyone to leverage a higher level of technology.  Nobody is required to learn a programming language or a new UI.  They can say what they want and it happens.  I guess that means if people stop taking, AI could falter.  Thankfully I doubt that will be the case.Voice is the interface that powers AI, and AI is a tool to augment the average person.  If we can get everyone thinking along those same lines, we can expect to see success.If not – if we give in to higher expectations and over-hype, then AI may stall in its applications.Here’s to hoping for the former and not the latter!