If You Only Learn One Historical Fact About AI, Let It Be This One

AI’s greatest lie and greatest success

Alberto Romero
8 min readAug 13, 2023

The field of AI could have many names. “Artificial intelligence” is probably the less accurate of all — and also the reason why it’s so successful.

Naomi Klein, an author, professor, and left-wing political activist, well-known for her books “The Shock Doctrine” and “This Changes Everything,” has recently turned her attention to AI. In an essay in The Guardian published in May, she eloquently criticizes the term “hallucination” (typically used to refer to AI chatbots’ tendency to make up information) and swings it back, like a fencing master wielding a double-edged sword, against the big tech industry, the CEOs promoting AI, and their careless use of this and other anthropomorphizing terms (I’ve done it too, not hiding here).

Why not call it “algorithmic junk” or “glitches,” she wonders. She offers an explanation; its purpose is twofold: By acknowledging the limitations of AI systems using terms like hallucination, which remind us of human psychology, “AI’s boosters are … simultaneously feeding the sector’s most cherished mythology,” i.e., that we’re well into the road toward the natural next step in evolution — human-level (and beyond) artificial agents.