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Report: Many firms are "AI washing" claims of intelligent products

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Software companies are seeking to exploit the current artificial intelligence craze by "AI washing" — exaggerating the role of AI in their products, according to a new report by Gartner, the research firm.

Gartner, which tracks commercial manias through a tool it calls the Hype Cycle, compares what is currently going on in AI with a prior surge in environmental over-statement — "greenwashing, in which companies exaggerate the environmental-friendliness of their products or practices for business benefit."

The bottom line: More than 1,000 vendors say their products employ AI, but many are "applying the AI label a little too indiscriminately," Gartner says in its report. Kriti Sharma, who runs the AI team at Sage, tells Axios that a lot of companies are seeking to solve problems using AI that would be better done by humans. And what is often called AI "is just automation that you are doing," she said.

Sharma said that much of the AI techniques being used are "nothing new. They have been around since the sixties." The buzz is because of computing and software capability that have allowed AI to be used more easily, and introduced into commercial products. Now that AI is used in Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa and other apps, "it's not that scary," she said.

Why it matters: The exaggeration risks souring companies on AI before it really gets started. In addition, it diverts attention to the important task of getting AI right, like making sure accurate data is entered into machine-learning algorithms. "As AI accelerates up the Hype Cycle, many software providers are looking to stake their claim in the biggest gold rush in recent years," Gartner's Jim Hare said in a release issued for the firm's report.

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Trump: Transgender people "disqualified" from the military

SecDef Jim Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford. Photo: Andrew Harrer-Pool / Getty Images

President Trump late Friday issued an order disqualifying most transgender people from serving in the military.

"[T]ransgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria -- individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery -- are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances."

Why it matters: Anything short of an inclusive policy for transgender troops will be viewed as a continuation of the ban Trump announced on Twitter in August.

Haley Britzky 13 hours ago
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Both Bush and Obama also requested line item veto power

Donald Trump.
Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Friday evening that to avoid having "this omnibus situation from ever happening again," he wants Congress to re-instate "a line-item veto."

Why it matters: This would allow him to veto specific parts of a bill without getting rid of the entire thing. Trump was deeply unhappy with the $1.3 trillion spending bill approved by Congress early Friday morning, but signed it anyway on Friday afternoon.