I dislike AI. Mostly.


This is not a fully baked collection of thoughts that I spent a ton of time crafting. It is just a simple list of why I, as a software product professional, dislike the current state of AI (Artifical Intelligence) in the tech industry:

1) It burns too many resources for the value it offers - We are burning a massive amount of electrical power to run all the AI training and apps. We are doing so at a time when we need to be improving the energy management across our world. If AI could improve its energy efficiency, I'd be more open to it.

2) Technology companies are inappropriately using it as product branding - Tech products matter because they solve problems. The actual tech used to solve the problem is not the selling point of good solutions. No consumer truly cares if the SaaS app they love is coded in React or Angular. Yet tech companies are promoting new features of their products by waving the flag of "AI-Driven!". This is silly. Sell products because of what they do, not because of what tech you use to make them do it. If you have to call out "AI" to make it sell, you didn't really create a compelling feature. 

3) We simply don't need it - I've always been a bit of an oddball in the tech world because I question whether it is improving our world. I think time has proven my skeptical instincts correct as we see the negative impact of social media and misinformation campaigns across our society. I believe we need to be asking whether technology improves our lives or not when we develop new products. And I don't see many things coming out of the current AI excitement that meet that criteria of being an overall improvement. Sure, they are clever, and maybe even helpful. But are they better? Are the results better or just faster? Are the people working in jobs that are moving to AI better for it? Are the people who receive the work product created by AI better for it? Or are they just clever shiny new toys? Do we really need such things, especially if we look back to my first point of the energy cost to build them? 

I am not saying AI should not exist - it know that it can improve the world when applied correctly. There are use cases where those questions can be answered with an emphatic "Yes, this is better in all ways." My favorite positive example was a hearing aid I head about that can allow you to focus on one person in a crowd and filter out all noise other than their voice. Yeah, sign me up for that one. And find more products like that which solve a real problem. 

But most companies putting out AI-driven products do not fall into that category. I'd encourage everyone in this industry to put much more thought into their usage of AI than what I'm seeing today.