Marc Benioff alludes to the market’s possible AI oversaturation by joking about a “genius” toothbrush

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Not unlike the thousands of cafes that market themselves as having “best cup of coffee”, AI labels are becoming a bit phoned in. And none other than Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff has something to say about it.

This week, Benioff jokingly posted a picture of a Oral-B rechargeable electric toothbrush that was advertised as coming “with AI” capabilities. “ He tweeted in response, “how will we know we have hit the top of the AI hype cycle?” It appears as if promises of AI features have become a marketing gimmick to the extent that we’ve blurred the definition of what AI even is. 

Walmart advertises a similar toothbrush to the one Benioff posted for around $135. It boasts likely unnecessary features like six different settings, smartphone connectivity, and a “customizable SmartRing with Pressure Control” that tells users when they’re brushing too hard. Software company IBM defines AI as “technology that enables computers and machines to simulate human intelligence and problem-solving capabilities.” The case can be made for this being just a fancy toothbrush rather than AI, but it really depends on the consumer’s take.

Of course, companies tend to get carried away when navigating a period of rapid advancements and intense public interest. Last year, generative AI went through a transformation period, becoming a hot topic and commodity as investors funneled billions into said tools. Theories have since cropped up about AI replacing workers, enhancing their jobs, upending the world in a sci-fi scenario or fading away like the Metaverse. Almost a year later, and we’re at the precipice of AI oversaturation as these tools become more commonplace.

But even with the hype and the label, we’re still at early stages of innovation. “It’s the euphoria and sense of inevitability in this straightforward narrative that makes me nervous,” Rana Foroohar of the Financial Times says of the idea that AI is set to change everything.“Even if you believe AI will be today’s equivalent of electricity or the internet, we are at the very early stages of a highly complex multi-decade transformation that is by no means a done deal.”

As the creator of Salesforce, Benioff himself has been part of the AI train, calling the development “not just the most important technology of our lifetime, but probably the most important in any lifetime,” in a 2023 interview with the Associated Press. Beninof said that same year the wave of AI advances will be the “biggest that anyone has ever seen.”

Since then he’s soured a bit on the industry, going on somewhat of a tangent during a sales call this past winter. Lamenting issues of AI stealing data and being inaccurate, he said that “these models don’t know anything about the company’s customer relationships, and in some cases are just making it up.” His rant ended up leading to Salesforce stock bouncing back after the call was over. Evidently, people are ready to swing back a bit on AI after a season of popularity. Until then, get ready to brush your teeth with a smart toothbrush. 

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