Technology is constantly accelerating, spinning off new terminologies and buzzwords that develop their own trajectories of meaning. Attempting to chart these trends has become almost a discipline in itself. But, with so much vested in this area, the problems are often misrepresented. Gartner’s “Hype Cycle,” for example, presents an occasionally dangerous picture of simple technological progression. It would be nice if things worked that way. In reality, however, buzzwords become marketing concepts, become generalized, and are then fed back into innovation.
Unfortunately, inflated buzzwords and marketing terms can also be used to define products that don’t really exist. Such “vaporware” (as it was called in the 1980s) has always been with us. Today, it can even create “unicorns”.
In the end, it is important to follow the trends. But it is more important to make certain there is a sound business case, and that the technology has a practical objective.
As the fury of terminologies and “emerging trends” continues in AI, we would do well to remember the lessons of the past.