2 min read

AI is not a silver bullet.

This morning I happened across a new publication called Futurism. Doesn’t it always make the day better when you come across a new journal?

Anyhoo, scrolling through the homepage this headline caught my eye—Sam Altman's Right-Hand Man Says AI Is Overhyped. Sam being the Sam who was fired from OpenAI, hired by Microsoft, quit his job at Microsoft, and went back to take over OpenAI all within 24 hours. Damn, the job market is so crazy stupid right now.

Back on topic. I love this statement about the state of AI and the Enterprise:

In an interview with CNBC, OpenAI COO and CEO Sam Altman's right-hand man Brad Lightcap said that certain aspects of AI are "overhyped," especially when it comes to the sky-high expectations of the company's enterprise AI customers.

"And there’s almost never a silver bullet answer there — there’s never one thing you can do with AI that solves that problem in full," he said. "And I think that’s just a testament to the world being really big and messy, and that these systems are still evolving, they’re still really in their infancy."

While I was at IBM I worked with a few engineers on Watson AI-powered projects. I learned a lot, especially their disdain for the people in marketing. At the time, IBM ran a lot of advertising featuring Watson as a simple device that could solve all kinds of very complex challenges easily.

Customers were excited and came to IBM in droves with massive problems expecting to hook up the magic box and solve all of them within seconds. In reality, Watson couldn’t do many of the things it was advertised to do because it wasn’t mature enough and almost all of the time the customer's legacy systems were in such a state that simply hooking up AI wasn’t an option, and it’s still not. Mostly because the data on the customers end is so messy and scrambled across so many systems that the cost-benefit doesn't work out.

This left the engineers in a very awkward position of having to burst all of the bubbles and bring customers back to Earth as gently as possible. Nobody likes doing that, least of all, engineers who are so often put in that position.

It’s interesting that seven years later, the problem still stands. AI is not a silver bullet and engineers are still left to the task of busting bubbles. Some things never change.