Are You An AI Organisation?

On fake AI companies

Photo from Unsplash


Companies are lying a lot. Not just small startups trying to get funding but even big companies trying to maintain their share price. It is said that companies which mention the word ‘AI’ in their annual reports are seen with a higher positive outlook. I read the below tweet and a flood of stories came to me.

[ This piece is highly opinionated. ]

Some real stories about fake AI orgs

AI based recruiting

What actually happens - Some Elasticsearch; some handwritten rules to match candidates to CV

AI based calling

What actually happens - SQL query to find the best time to call

AI based customer support

What actually happens - People answering the chats most of the time

AI based SQL query parsing

What actually happens - Run through a lot of rules. If it fails, get it done by humans.

AI based speech to text

What actually happens - Use commercial speech to text APIs

AI based chart/report generation

What actually happens - Use commercial speech to text APIs. Parse the detected entities through a SQL template.

We use RL for active learning

What actually happens - Faster periodic retraining of supervised models

What’s the main question?

There are 2 questions to ponder upon

  1. Does a company which use commercial APIs to develop AI products be called an AI company?

  2. Does a company which use opensource AI models out-of-the-box to give AI solutions be called AI companies?

What is not an AI org (IMO) ?

To make AI means to make something that learns from data.

I strongly feel that in both the above cases, the company cannot write we do AI for x or we are AI based x. They are not AI first companies. Using external API doesn’t require AI engineers and working with open source models requires just another regular Python developer. In India, you can get such an engineer at just $5/hour.

What is an AI org (IMO) ?

  • A company with models trained with its own data and in production

  • A company with AI research publication but nothing in production

  • A company which makes products used by others to make AI of their AI products

Although Transfer learning is not anything niche or cool anymore. But let’s give these companies some credit for collecting data & MLOps. Albeit not many orgs know proper MLOps also.

Now how to detect fake AI orgs?

Indicators of fake AI orgs

Fake titles

Companies which do not have any data scientist with past experience of AI is mostly lying.

Many companies hire regular python developers and give them inflated titles like Data scientist, AI engineer or ML engineer to make it look cool. This is also done intentionally sometimes by service-based companies to look more credible to get clients.

Publication

No publication/blog definitely makes things look doubtful. Having publication clears the doubt.

Open source

Companies which do open source for AI are the strongest.

Founder

Founders with only business background make some of the biggest liers. Never trust them easily. They do x and say y because they themselves don’t understand AI.

How does this affect us?

As a data scientist, I don’t want to interview or end up at wrong places.

As an investor, I don’t want to invest in fake companies.

Some edge cases to ponder upon 🤔

Is a company using a linear/logistic regression an AI company? Do we consider classical ML company as AI company?

Is a company using AutoML an AI company? It doesn’t require much brain to use AutoML.

What about those which use AWS, Azure or Google AutoML - basically no Modelling or MLOps required. Your job is just to collect the data.

Would you join such companies?


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