AI has had its ups and downs—no different from any nascent technology. That's entirely consistent with the way we adopt new things. If you're at all interested in innovation, you should know how this works. Everett Rogers published his Rogers curve in 1962. It's the best model I know for understanding how successful innovation hits the mainstream. Rogers drew an inverted bell curve, and represented early adopters on the left, mainstream in the middle, and late adopters on the right. His diffusion of innovation states that success begins with the intrigue of early adopters—visionaries, techies and the curious. When the value becomes evident, the majority will adopt. And eventually, even the Luddites will jump on board.
The formula's been proven countless times.
The secret source, of course, is the early detection of winners—innovations that make it all the way to the right of the curve. Success takes a combination of a few factors:
The recognition of technology potential
A matching problem or opportunity
The zeal of a pioneer
If you have tech potential alone, stay in the research lab. If you can match that with opportunity, you may be on to something. And if you have zeal, you have a shot at commercial success.
There's a fourth element, a kind of karma. Being in the right place at the right time, combining the right technologies and social needs.
It's this fourth element that can cause many innovations to flounder for decades. Artificial Intelligence may be all the buzz today, but it was born in the 50s. After tons of successful science projects and some minor commercial successes, the right circumstances have finally arrived for AI to hit the limelight. It's taken massive affordable computing power and a glut of data to spark commercial successes, but we're still left of centre on Rogers' curve.
You can apply zeal when you recognize potential and opportunity. But being mindful of karma will save a lot of false starts.
Finding your comfort zone
Which of these best describes your ambitions?
Go Big or Go Home
Consistent, steady progress
If you're on the Go Big team, be extra mindful of the critical success factors. You're seeking a revolution—like Jobs and Musk. When you reach for the stars, you may not get there.
If you're more concerned with success, you'll take a more measured approach, test ideas every day, and quickly reject those that fail. That's evolution—if the work has merit, it will succeed.
Perhaps AI can help you find the answers ...
… and if you missed these articles, go back and take a read.