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Separating AI From The Nonsense

Over sixty years ago, A Dartmouth professor named John McCarthy coined a term that would become an enormously successful, and problematic, marketing slogan: artificial intelligence. The term AI is now ubiquitous in the technology industry. Its use bears little relation to the things with which McCarthy was concerned, and it’s often used to sex-up stuff that has little to with what practitioners of artificial intelligence care about.

Today’s use of the term AI in industry often has nothing to do with that. If one digs into the details, many things that are claimed to be AI are nothing more than the application of statistics to large quantities of data to try and find patterns. That can be a worthwhile endeavor in itself, but it’s not necessarily very forward-looking. It’s more likely to be a novel application of well-developed methods within statistics and programming.

AI will stick around in the language for the foreseeable future because it can be a useful catch-all phrase for techniques at the edge of computer science, what Minsky referred to as just trying stuff out until something works. Just remember that when you hear the term used in industry, it doesn’t actually denote a Terminator, and most of the time it doesn’t even mean cutting-edge computer science. Most of the time, it’s just hype.

The original article can be found here.

According to Michael Dukakis Institute for Leadership and Innovation (MDI), AI can be an important tool to serve and strengthen democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. However, its misuse could undermine those ideals. In this effort, MDI invites participation and collaboration with think tanks, universities, non-profits, firms, and other entities that share its commitment to the constructive and development of AI.