01 May 2023

Does AI follow the hype cycle?

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Research firm Gartner has analyzed and modeled the introduction of new products and services in the world of Big Tech into so-called 'hype cycles': the five stages that a technological development goes through on its way to 'maturity'. If we look at the rise of AI (artificial intelligence) through this model, we see that AI has followed this model quite nicely so far.

Phase 1: Technology Trigger (Introduction)

In Phase 1, the technology is introduced to the public, usually as a trial. For example, companies occasionally came out with a chatbot before, but that did not end well. In 2016, a chatbot from Microsoft uttered racist language within 24 hours and Facebook has also tried various chatbots.

 

Phase 2: Peak of Inflated Expectations

In the second phase, there is a huge amount of attention and enthusiasm. Often concrete applications are not yet available, but the product is hyped in the media, and the general public becomes enthusiastic (or overly concerned). Complete with the accompanying unrealistic expectations. For example, the arrival of AI would result in the disappearance of 300 million jobs and artificial intelligence would gain human consciousness within the foreseeable future.
For AI, this phase started with the introduction of ChatGPT at the end of November 2022. All kinds of chatbots became available (ChatGPT, Claude, Bard, Ernie, etc.) and the number of users went through the roof. Within two months ChatGPT reached 100 million users (the 'early adopters'). But the next 100 million has not yet been reached.

Phase 3: Trough of Disillusionment

In this stage, everyone is back on Earth, and it becomes clear that the initial enthusiasm may have been a little misplaced. ChatGPT and Bard were heavily criticized when ChatGPT advised a New York Times journalist to divorce his wife and start a relationship with him. Moreover, chatbots turned out to invent all kinds of facts and to announce the greatest possible nonsense with great certainty.

Phase 4: Slope of Enlightenment

In this phase, practical applications come onto the market and people understand what the technology is capable of. OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, has now opened up its technology to a select group of companies to create plugins, which are then available to users in a kind of app store. These ten companies include Expedia (booking hotels), Klarna (compare prices), and OpenTable (booking restaurants). And according to recent reports, Google is going to include its chatbot in the search engine.

Phase 5: Plateau of Productivity

This is the final phase. The technology is widespread and people understand its capabilities. And what it is not capable of. An important condition is that companies find revenue models for their applications. ChatGPT is now asking money for using the technology and Google will certainly look for a way to unite advertisements and chatbots, so that its revenue model is not jeopardized.
It seems that AI is currently between phase 3 (Disillusion) and 4 (Enlightenment), or is already partially in phase 4. Gradually, AI is now being used practically, but mainly for specific tasks, such as searching the internet or viewing X-rays. It looks like the great leap forward (or the great threat) is still a while away.

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