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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.

Go deeper

Tim Scott hopes to reintroduce version of GOP police reform bill

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told reporters Wednesday he plans to reintroduce his police reform bill or a similar proposal in the coming weeks, and that he has discussed a potential compromise with Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Why it matters: Eyes have again turned to Washington to take steps to address police reform in the wake of Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict Tuesday, after efforts stalled in Congress last year.

Biden announces small business tax credits for vaccine PTO

Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Wednesday will call on all employers to provide employees paid time off to get vaccinated or to recover from any side effects, and he'll include a paid tax credit for small businesses to do so, administration officials said.

Why it matters: The administration sees places of work as highly influential in making shots more convenient for working adults who are in high-risk industries.

White House unveils plans for high-profile climate summit

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration offered new details this morning about the big, virtual climate summit Thursday and Friday and signaled they expect new emissions reduction and climate finance commitments from multiple countries.

Driving the news: The administration said 40 heads of state would attend, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.