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Artificial intelligence

About 40% of Europe’s “AI companies” don’t use any AI at all

March 5, 2019

A surprising number of firms are jumping on the artificial-intelligence bandwagon—without actually investing in any AI.

What? Yes, I’m afraid so. MMC Ventures, an investment firm in London, looked at 2,830 European companies that claim to make use of AI. It found that a whopping 40% of them are not using any machine learning, a field of AI that has taken off in recent years both academically and commercially.

Numbers game: One company singled out in an article in the FT ($) said it was gathering “data and knowledge to enable the implementation of AI.” That’s pretty embarrassing, but also hardly surprising. The report claims that “AI-focused” startups receive 15% more funding on average, so it’s going to be pretty tempting to stretch the definition a little.

AI or not AI? Another problem, of course, is that “artificial intelligence” refers to a huge field of academic research. So it can be used to refer to the most basic forms of software automation or the kind of advanced machine learning seen in AlphaGo. This makes it a lot easier for companies to convince investors—and perhaps themselves—that they are involved in AI.

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