The key metric in AI

Insights from a four year journey into AI design and use.

An abstract image of an abacus

Everyone has learned a lot since the peak of the AI hype back in 2016. The technological progress being made every day and the projections for what was going to happen made AI seem both inevitable and invincible. Exponential growth would account for everything. Humans would be redundant (or in utopia.) Bring on UBI.

Most people probably knew in their gut that the story being told by the AI evangelists was too simple at best, plain wrong at worst. What was actually happening at the frontier revealed a more complex story of human-machine than robots doing everything, all the time.

One start-up whose technology showed the power of AI was Nutonian—since acquired by Data Robot. The AI could evaluate literally millions of predictive models every second, far beyond what engineering-centered statistical models could do. But what was most interesting was the company’s philosophy, which wasn’t about removing or downgrading the value of human experience and expertise, but to amplify it.

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