Is the hype train warranted?

Hype Bubble

As boosters say AI is primed to conquer entire sectors, from military to medicine, a significant portion of the tech world is surprisingly unconvinced by its utility, according to a new survey from software development business Retool.

In the survey of 1,500 people working in tech, Retool found that a startling 51.6 percent of people think AI is overrated, while 25.1 percent think it's underrated, and another 23.4 percent think it's fairly rated. The people surveyed include executives, software engineers, designers, and other positions in different industries.

Particularly striking was that workers in executive roles had a more favorable view of AI while people in the technical side "skewed a little more toward overrated" — perhaps not a surprise, since many business leaders have been crowing about the potential cost savings of AI and how it could generate more revenue.

Reality Check

It's easy to conclude from news reports and press releases that AI is poised to change the world, but it's telling that the tech crowd, with a closer view of the technology, are more skeptical.

The survey doesn't spell out in detail exactly what their misgivings are, but they're likely more conscious than the general public of the inconvenient seams of the technology. AI has a tendency to hallucinate and spit out inaccurate information, and that's not even getting into ethical concerns around the tech.

It also remains to be seen whether AI can overcome being computationally and financially cost prohibitive, while also being fragile to jailbreaking and data poisoning that render its commercial applications dicey.

Interestingly, many of the tech workers have found themselves using AI at work. Software engineers in the survey said they've increasingly turned to ChatGPT and the Microsoft-backed GitHub Copilot instead of Stack Overflow, with 57.6 percent using the website less and 10.2 percent having dropped it altogether.

And there's no debating that's one tangible sign of AI disruption.

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