AI Washing – The modern Green Washing?
Posted 19 Sep 2023
In today’s digital era, terms like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are becoming ubiquitous and integral parts of our everyday lives. Companies across all industries are increasingly turning to these technologies to optimize processes, support decision-making, and develop innovative products and services. But in the middle of this technological boom, there is one topic that is gaining importance: AI Washing.
AI Washing can be synonymous with Green Washing, or Rainbow Washing, which means that companies are presenting a special image that often doesn’t have much behind it. Likewise, this can be related to the use of AI in business. AI Washing, then, represents the trend where companies give the impression of using AI technologies on a large scale, when in reality there are minimal or no real AI components involved. It is a type of misdirection in which companies use AI as a marketing tool to improve their image and appear modern and innovative in the digital transformation. However, the fact that companies want to profit from the AI trend is not a new phenomenon.
Companies that engage in AI washing create a facade of AI integration without actually having invested in extensive research, development, or implementation of AI technologies. However, to properly implement the impact of AI, it is important to understand the potential of the revolution. Often, simple automated processes or traditional algorithms are marketed as “artificial intelligence” in the enterprise to attract customers, investors, or even a new potential workforce. This leads to a dilution of the term AI and an overestimation of the actual capabilities of a company, which can have a negative impact at the same time:
Low trust: If companies claim to use AI extensively, but in reality do not, customer and stakeholder trust can disappear when the discrepancy comes to light.
Lack of innovation: By using AI as a mere marketing strategy, companies can prevent themselves from creating actual innovation and benefiting from the potential of real AI.
Distorted expectations: AI washing leads to inflated expectations that often cannot be met. This can lead to disappointment and negatively impact attitudes toward AI overall.
To counteract the phenomenon of AI washing, transparency is crucial. Companies should clearly communicate which technologies they are actually using and to what extent they are being used. Authenticity is essential to building trust and delivering real value.
While AI undoubtedly has the potential to revolutionize the business landscape, it’s important to be aware that not every claim of AI use matches reality. It is advisable to take a closer look at companies’ AI efforts and pay attention to transparency and authenticity. By guarding against AI washing, we can ensure that AI actually leads to the innovations it promises.
Communication Advisor at HBI Communication Helga Bailey GmbH
Elena Sauter has been supporting HBI in the areas of PR and marketing since 2022.
As a Communication Advisor, her responsibilities include the creation of professional articles & the conceptualization of social media postings. Furthermore, Elena is involved in directly assisting our client work.