8 min read

AI Snake Oil, What To Avoid When Implementing AI

AI/Artificial Intelligence/ML/Machine Learning/Algorithm/LLM/NLP/Automation/Tech/Technology/Software/Software Development/Data/Engineers/Code/Developers
AI technology is everywhere at the moment, and businesses are looking for ways to implement this innovative tech. That being said, don't believe everything you hear when it comes to AI. It's no silver bullet, and shouldn't be treated as such.
Written by
Jonathan Mitchell
Published on
April 12, 2024

The word ChatGPT has occupied the spotlight for so long that, at this point, even elderly loved ones who can barely use a smartphone have heard of OpenAI’s recent creation. This innovative, artificial intelligence chatbot has taken the internet by storm. The household name may rival even that of Lebron James or Lionel Messi. Ok, maybe not that well known, but you get the point. Everyone is jumping at the opportunity to implement AI in any way possible. It’s the Wild West, and everybody is looking for gold. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rapidly growing field that has the potential to revolutionize the way businesses operate. By harnessing the power of machine learning (ML) algorithms, companies can automate processes, make more informed decisions, and gain a competitive advantage. However, not all AI solutions are created equal, and many companies sell false promises. Stay away from the AI snake oil.

AI can be a complicated technology to implement. Not only that, but it's a solution that can only be used in specific contexts. So, be wary of organizations touting their AI capabilities, saying it solves all your business problems. That would be akin to hammering in a screw. The tool is wrong, and the final product suffers because of it. The benefits of automation can be extensive, but getting it set up, to begin with, can be a tall task. It might be a good idea to have a few grains of salt available whenever a potential partner starts flexing unproven strategies about AI/ML. Understand your problem statement, research a firm that fits your vision and budget, and then decide.

What Is AI Snake Oil?

AI snake oil refers to AI solutions marketed as a one-size-fits-all solution to all your business problems. These solutions promise to deliver results without any effort on your part. They boldly claim to improve your operations, increase your revenue, or reduce your costs. Yet, these claims are often unfounded and fail to deliver the promised results. Sometimes, these solutions can even harm your business by providing inaccurate results.

The spike in ChatGPT's popularity has seen an influx of attention on AI as a whole. The potential seems limitless. Organizations worldwide are finding new, innovative uses for this incredible technology. However, the track record really matters. If your business could benefit from AI, make sure to find a partner with a history of success when implementing these kinds of systems. Cost is essential, but so is the integration and capability of the model they create. It may be tempting to take a seemingly incredible deal, but make sure the price isn't just a manipulative strategy to get a foot in the door.

Why Do Businesses Fall For AI Snake Oil?

There are several reasons why businesses fall for AI snake oil. One of the main reasons is that they are not aware of the limitations of AI. Some companies believe that AI is a magic bullet that can solve all their problems without realizing it is just another tool that should be used in conjunction with human expertise. Other businesses may be lured in by the promises of quick and easy results without considering the broader context of their operations.

Either way, a comprehensive, nuanced search process is the only accurate way to find a partner with credibility and success in the AI environment. It's reported that nearly 60-80% of AI projects fail, but why is that? Businesses want results, and frugality plays a part in the decision-making process. A lousy vendor gets chosen at this lower price point, and the company pays the price in the end. That's not to say the cheapest option is always the worst choice. Still, the overall context of the project and the partner's history with AI projects should also be determining factors. Please don't fall for the BS; you'll regret it in the end.

What Should Businesses Avoid When Implementing AI?

  1. Mindlessly Trusting AI Solutions - Again, AI is not a magic bullet that can solve all your problems. It is a tool that should be used in concert with knowledgeable professionals. Firms that mindlessly trust AI solutions without questioning their results are more likely to fall victim to AI snake oil.
  2. Focusing Solely On Technology - AI is not just about technology. It requires a deep understanding of your business processes, data, and customers. Businesses focusing on the technology without considering the broader context are more likely to implement AI solutions that fail to deliver results.
  3. Ignoring Ethical Considerations - AI solutions can significantly impact people's lives. Organizations that ignore ethical considerations when implementing AI solutions are more likely to face backlash from customers, employees, and regulators. That’s something to be avoided, right?

How Can Businesses Avoid Falling For AI Snake Oil?

To avoid falling for AI snake oil, businesses should take the following steps:

  1. Educate Themselves About AI: Businesses should understand the limitations of AI and how it can be used to benefit their operations.
  2. Consider The Broader Context: Businesses should consider the broader context of their operations and how AI can integrate into their existing processes.
  3. Consult With Experts: Businesses should consult with experts in AI to ensure they are implementing solutions that are right for their business.
  4. Pilot Test AI Solutions: Businesses should pilot test AI solutions to ensure they deliver the promised results before implementing them.
  5. Consider Ethical Considerations: Businesses should consider the ethical implications of implementing AI solutions and work to ensure that they operate ethically and responsibly.

Don't Believe False Promises

AI has the potential to transform businesses and improve their operations. However, businesses should be cautious when implementing AI solutions. They should avoid mindlessly trusting AI solutions, focus on the broader context, and consider ethical considerations. By doing so, businesses can avoid falling victim to AI snake oil and ensure their AI solutions deliver the promised results.

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