While AI and ML-powered have been dominating every sector, in a surprise statement, Nithin Kamath, founder and CEO at Zerodha, pointed out that there is no use-case for Zerodha yet. Zerodha’s boss took to Twitter, “I keep getting asked how we use AI/ML/Blockchain at @zerodhaonline, and I keep saying we don’t and haven’t found any use-case yet. This time I asked our man behind the scene, Dr K, to comment. Couldn’t help but share his response.” He shared a screenshot of Kailash Nath’s comment, CTO at Zerodha. Many analysts, data scientists, experts, and technologists admired the honesty in Nithin and Kailash’s statements. At the same time, others completely thrashed the duo’s underestimation of AI technology and the potential it holds.
Is the ‘powered by AI’ a marketing gimmick? To an extent, yes. The attention to the development of AI is remarkable, from improving healthcare to natural language processing. However, the hype has given rise to many enterprises casually associating the term ‘AI-powered’ with their products or services. It is also becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between products using AI or ML algorithms and companies that are only imitating it to jump on the bandwagon.
There is no general or officially agreed-upon definition of artificial intelligence, allowing companies great and small to include AI-powered in their products. Since AI is poorly defined, it has become easy to state that a company’s products use artificial intelligence and back that up with some mumbo-jumbo. ‘Powered by AI’ has become a marketing term used by companies across the globe to create a perception of intelligent and competent products because most customers don’t understand the concept of incompetent AI.
In his blog published on Nov 26th, Kailash Nath explains how the minimal use of AI in their KYC process does not warrant them to use ‘powered by AI’ on their website because AI has no impact on their product offering. According to Nithin, Zerodha doesn’t use AI or ML technology apart from a commodity image recognition tool for processing KYC images during onboarding. “We have not come across any problems yet where we have felt the need to turn to ML solutions.”
Most people have interacted with a chatbot, typically marketed as a ‘live chat’ option on many company’s websites. However, chatbots have a predetermined response list, and they can’t learn or adapt. A human can pick up on what a customer is asking, but a chatbot cannot. In this context, chatbots aren’t AI-powered. Unfortunately, most businesses market chatbots as AI, leading to immense confusion for customers. Additionally, because of chatbots’ inability to learn from its mistake, the bot will continue to pick up on a keyword and offer the same answer—even if the response has nothing to do with the customer’s query.
Kailash claims that innovations in artificial intelligence and machine learning have now been commoditized to the point that they have become a laughable trivial task for most use cases. The increase in the ‘powered by AI/ML’ phrase has become a marketing gimmick and reduced to meaninglessness. He also mentioned how companies use the prominent ‘powered by AI’ label even if technology does not directly relate to the actual product. According to MMC, a London venture capital firm, 40% of European AI startups don’t actually use artificial intelligence in a way that is ‘significant’ to their businesses. Some of the common uses of AI and ML are chatbots (26%) and fraud detection (21%), but it is tricky to judge exactly how the technologies affect the product and the customers.
Misleading marketing and outright fabricated features create a hallowed tradition in tech and marketing to attract more customers. Since its inception in 2010, Zerodha has accounted for a 15% market share of India’s overall retail trading without the use of AI or ML. The real measure of AI-powered products or tools is its functionality and maximization to bring more value to the product or service and help the end-user. However, companies like Zerodha that are upfront about their use of AI show that it’s possible to build solutions and become a market leader without the need to market products as ‘powered by AI.’