$400 'AI-powered' toothbrush reaches the pinnacle of artificial intelligence mania

It's time for another reality check. Companies are losing their minds over artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies that probably won't improve your life.

Let me give two examples. A $400 electric toothbrush that's “powered by AI” (don't ask) and a cashier-less grocery store that Amazon admitted to failing this week.

(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post.)

Companies large and small are racing to show their employees, shareholders, and you that they're committed to the new magic of AI. I've seen a lot of technology crazes, but the AI ​​mania is really out of control.

AI will be used in very useful applications. But this technology is also drowning in false promises that suck away your time, energy, money, and possibly your health. (Example: New York has an official AI chatbot that gives people incorrect legal advice.)

This moment in technology demands more why.

Why does this supposedly AI technology exist? Why is it worth spending time or money on? Tasks suggested to AI, such as asking a chatbot the appropriate oven temperature for a fast-food restaurant. task) is better than simpler, cheaper, and less privacy-invasive ways of doing the same thing.

So here we go. Let's hear some of the reasons.

Amazon's spectacular failures and boring successes

I know a lot of people love the “Just Walk Out” technology in Amazon's Go convenience stores and fresh grocery stores.

When you pick up an apple or milk from a store shelf, a variety of cameras, sensors, and AI software detect what you've picked. There's no need to scan items or pay at the register; your account will be charged.

But Amazon's complex technology doesn't work well enough to justify the cost.

As is common with most AI, a human behind the scenes checks the accuracy of the receipt after it leaves the store, “teaching” the software that mistook apples for oranges not to repeat the same mistake. The technology is also cumbersome and expensive to install and troubleshoot.

It doesn't matter at all whether shoppers prefer stores without cashiers. A technology won't last if it doesn't deliver enough benefits to justify the cost and complexity. “Just walk out” didn't pass that test, at least not at large grocery stores.

Amazon says its cashierless technology has proven its worth in small, crowded stores like airports and sports stadiums.

Amazon's grocery stores will instead use carts that can scan items and skip the checkout. This is a less complex technology that lets AI do the work for you.

As technology advances, things may become even better. But why did Amazon ignore the lessons of its own history?

The biggest innovations in shopping often don't come from the flashiest. Sucharita Kodali, principal retail and e-commerce analyst at research firm Forrester, says this is due to boring technology that you'll never see.

Amazon spreads out pallets of goods across the country and uses its sophisticated technology (and built tons of warehouses) to make deliveries lightning fast. When you order a blender, you will receive it quickly as there is a blender in a nearby warehouse.

Thanks to improvements in inventory tracking software, local Target stores can ship Crock Pot orders while still having enough supplies for other shoppers coming into the store.

Grocery shopping has been improved with employee scheduling technology that ensures there are enough people to stock shelves and load and unload trucks.

AI-powered toothbrushes: Why?

Flashy technology attracts attention, just like a loud red sports car. You probably don't shop at supermarkets because they have great inventory management software. But with robots and checkout without cashiers, you might think so.

Of course, companies can take cool-sounding technology to outrageous extremes. We would like to introduce Oral-B's AI toothbrush series.

Marketing materials for the $400 version mention “AI location detection.” This sounds like a simple sensor that detects which teeth you're brushing and for how long. There is also “3D tooth tracking by AI'' that shows whether you have brushed your teeth well.

I asked a representative from Procter & Gamble, which owns Oral-B, what exactly this toothbrush's AI is. They declined to comment.

If you're concerned about how well you brush your teeth every night, you're right. But this toothbrush doesn't appear to have any AI, even under the vaguest definition.

Marc Benioff, CEO of software company Salesforce and a big advocate of AI, recently tweeted The toothbrush was a sign of peak AI hype. (Sorry Benioff and others, but there will be more AI hype.)

We will rise above the corporate fanaticism that forces mediocre or fake AI into every product and touts it as great. I just don't feel like that right now.

Here’s a sanity check on the AI ​​hype. Ask lots of reasons and ignore 95% of what's going on.

  • teeth this AI? Let's take the quiz.
  • “Monito sauce” and two-tailed shrimp image Enjoy the strangeness of AI-generated recipes and AI-generated food images.
  • 4 Practical Ways to Use AI Chatbots

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