Why is it nearly impossible to acknowledge the state of technology in business today without first considering the current status and supposed promise of artificial intelligence (AI)? Because AI is riding high on what is known as the ‘hype cycle’ with no clear end in sight.
Coined in the 1990s by analyst firm Gartner Group, the ‘hype cycle‘ trajectory described goes like this: a new tech becomes known, a few early adopters enjoy some well publicized (often over-hyped) success and others rush to implement the new fad often thinking the tech alone drives results. The outcomes are disappointing at best, then lead to a period of widespread disillusionment. Eventually, the market adjusts around patterns that emerge for how to apply said tech in a manner that delivers on desired results.
While some debate the validity of the ‘hype cycle’ phenomenon for emerging technology, I have actually seen it play out several times over the course of my own career. That’s why I’ve come to believe that those who fail to learn from past hype cycles are doomed to repeat them.
From my perspective, I have seen the rise, fall and plateau of four emerging technologies that have followed the course of the hype cycle: personal computing, the World Wide Web, customer relationship management and mobile applications. Each has enabled the next, building foundations for the next hype cycle to take place. There are lessons to be learned from each, but ultimately, the hype cycle model always reveals three key truths:
AI is not exactly new, and many aspects are not necessarily considered at the edge of the hype cycle. However, AI is experiencing a renaissance, which means the term AI itself is being used so broadly its meaning is becoming diluted. More specifically, machine learning, voice interaction, natural language understanding, computer vision and deep learning are all AI capabilities emerging on the edge of today’s hype cycle.
Technology alone does not make the case for innovation. In fact, from its new interaction models to its varied applications across industries, AI success is way more complicated than it looks. By embracing the hype cycle for emerging technology through a human-centered design lens, succeeding with AI—and whatever comes next—is possible.
For more information on designing on the leading edge of the hype cycle, download frog’s report “Embrace the Hype Cycle: Artificial Intelligence.”