On the Road to AI, Don’t Ask “Are We There Yet?”

Businesses that put in the effort to create an artificially intelligent business may see amazing returns at first — but there are good reasons to expect those to diminish.

It would be very, very helpful to know what the future holds for artificial intelligence in business. Unfortunately, it is also very, very hard to predict.

With this topic, our extrapolation heuristics may not work well. We tend to extrapolate linearly, expecting the pace of past progress to continue unchanged. That is unlikely to work with AI.

Consider the fun example of Joshua Browder, a 19-year-old who built a chatbot to help people fight parking tickets. It took him about three months to develop, and in the first 21 months, the application helped people win 160,000 of 250,000 cases — a 64% success rate.

The temptation to extrapolate from this is strong, leading to thoughts like:

  • With another three months of effort, the rest of the cases could be won.
  • This success is just in London and New York, but the same thing could be done in every other municipality.
  • It works for parking tickets, so let’s apply the same approach to more important contexts.

Although appealing, the reality is that extrapolating the future success and progress of AI is not that straightforward.

Read the entire article on MIT Sloan Management Review

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