AI Still Hasn’t Lived Up To Its Extraordinary Hype

Big Tech is telling us that AI is dramatically changing the world, but according to a recent study, most people have never even heard of it.

by Emma Madden
BRAZIL - 2024/04/08: In this photo illustration, the homepage of the ChatGPT website seen on a compu...
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Many of us grew up with the looming threat — or excitement, depending on how you were raised — of artificial intelligence. Once just the stuff of sci-fi, storytellers prophesized a dramatic future in which AI would rule over us all.

Well, that AI future is here, and it’s nowhere near as impactful as Philip K. Dick had us imagine, nor does it even stand up to the claims of today’s AI overlords: Google, Microsoft, Apple, Meta.

Lots of People Have Never Heard of ChatGPT

According to a recent study by Reuters and Oxford University, only 50 percent of people have even heard of ChatGPT — by far the most widely known generative AI product ahead of Google’s Gemini and Microsoft’s Copilot. After surveying 12,000 people from six different countries, lead researchers Dr. Richard Fletcher and Prof. Rasmus Kleis Nielsen found that while knowledge of ChatGPT isn’t as common as you might expect, actual use of it is even rarer. According to the study, only one percent of citizens in Japan use it on a daily basis, while two percent of English and French people have. Americans clock in at seven percent.

It’s also worth pointing out that this recent study only focused on generative AI, rather than pre-existing AI-equipped voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant.

Apparently 50 percent of people are unlikely to know who the above CEO is.


Speaking to the BBC, Dr. Fletcher concluded that there was a “mismatch” between the generative AI “hype” and the “public interest” in it. This might come as good news to anyone who’s felt daunted or simply uninterested in the tech. But it’s bad news for the companies who are making extraordinary claims about AI’s potential to reshape the world as we know it. Right now, every tech company is barrelling as fast as it can to incorporate AI into their products and services in some way, so as not to look behind the times. AI has the potential to change every industry the same way electricity and the internet did, but it’s still too early in the game for it to know how things will shake out.

Mismatch Between AI Hype and Actual Use

It’s important to keep all that in mind during this late spring and early summer period, when developer’s conferences from the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Apple take place and provide an onslaught of AI-related news. To state the obvious: Big Tech is heavily, heavily invested in generative AI. It’s essentially at the forefront of all of their visions going forward, while they attempt to integrate it into their products at a furious rate. Tech companies are pouring billions into partnerships and product development, but the general public is yet to be whipped up into their frenzy.

Can AI really be a game-changer if no one is using it?

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Let’s face it, any resistance to this emerging, and still mostly beta, generative AI tech isn’t exactly unfounded. Google’s new AI-powered Gemini search, for instance, has a terrible hallucination problem, spitting out wrong and — frankly — dangerous results like telling people to glue cheese to their pizza or eat rocks. And, if ChatGPT has already baked itself into your daily routine, then you’ll no doubt have experienced a lot of crashes. GPT-4o, its new upgrade, could be faring even worse, as OpenAI rolled it out in a seemingly unfinished state. Alongside its numerous flaws, Radio-Canada recently found that the newly upgraded GPT-4o had major safety flaws, including its capacity to spew hate speech. If this is the chatbot that’s supposed to upend the entire tech industry, then we’re in trouble.

Generative AI Is Still in Beta Phase

When ChatGPT was unveiled towards the end of 2022, a flurry of fearmongering followed in its wake. News outlets around the world predicted that one large language model could have the potential to put billions out of business, destroy entire industries, and make life as we know it totally obsolete. Yes, ChatGPT may have written the odd college thesis and bad piece of marketing copy in the year-and-a-half since, but so far there’s yet to really be any nightmares of electric sheep.

With so many disastrous generative AI rollouts already, there will have to be a lot of improvements made to the tech — and fast — in order to close the pretty big gap between corporate hype and public engagement. If this really is the dawn of a new AI age, then it’s beginning with a whimper rather than a bang.

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