By Jan Skov

Reading time: 5 minutes

The IT industry is overflowing with people tossing around seemingly random acronyms and technology names. We do too. But I think it’s time to pause and look at what we’re doing when we misuse science-fiction connotations in our communication.

It’s a lie when we use the term Artificial Intelligence about our software. Everyone does. Even IBM with their extremely expensive systems like Watson, which has admittedly won Jeopardy, but is still unable to judge whether you should use grain 80 or 400 sandpaper to fix your countertop.

Watson is not a carpenter. And we who claim to make artificial intelligence software are not gods. We are technicians, designers, and architects. We can understand, assess, and act on complex issues, and we build software that can help us, and our customers understand and act on huge amounts of data.

It is not Artificial Intelligence, or “AI”, as it is implicitly called in the business, where the topic right now is hotter than a dinner with the Pope. It’s not AI in the Skynet or Ex Machina sense. There are tangible underlying algorithms and methods. Smart composite algorithms that can and must learn about the system and the data fed into it, in the framework of any number of predefined parameters.

AI is a meaningless term in itself

The term AI / Artificial Intelligence itself is meaningless in 99.99% of all cases where it is used today. And if you see it in a piece of marketing – including from us – you should know that it isn’t true. That’s just something we say because it’s easy for people in the “business” to understand. Or rather: it makes an otherwise relatively complex topic so immensely incomprehensible and magical that one does not have to deal with it. One can only conclude that when something is “Artificial Intelligence” it simply cannot become more state of the art.

Such is the commercial side of the business. Sales and marketing don’t care about technicalities. They want solutions, and preferably the kind that is easy to present in PowerPoint. It’s AI: You only need to insert a GIF from The Matrix, to coerce everyone into the recognition that this topic is impossible to understand, and therefore the salesperson in front of you is probably right.

Keep It Complicated, Kid

Maybe you’re thinking that no-one has an interest in overcomplicating their solutions. But then you’d be wrong. We see it ourselves, everywhere. With suppliers, partners and competitors. It’s as if people are afraid of losing business if they make their solutions understandable and transparent. And maybe they are right. But in that case, perhaps as a buyer, you should consider whether a given black box system, is trustworthy. And whether it’s being sold as something it is not.

At Raptor, we have long used terms like AI in our marketing. It is a decision that is constantly debated because we think the concept can be deceptively misleading. So far, the argument “customers expect “AI” because “the others in the market used the term” has won. I honestly don’t think it is a good or satisfactory argument. What we are doing has nothing to do with AI in the sense most marketers use the term.

We make neither Terminators nor extreme-tech virtual conversation partners with their own attitudes to music and French cooking. We make good, well-tested, and well-documented software that helps our customers every single day of the year. And we’re not afraid to give a tour of the engine room to show exactly why we do what we say.