AI Device Hype Videos

Though I try to be green and use stuff until it completely breaks, and though I am too broke to afford a bunch of new gadgets, I still suffer from Gadget Lust. So I watched the videos for three new AI gadgets, since AI is supposed to revolutionize our lives. Or that’s been the story ever since the crypto crash, anyway.

Let’s jump into it, shall we?

Humane AI Pin

This one has been all over my Instagram. The launch video is two black-clad, dead-eyed people walking you through the features of the pin with an appropriate lack of enthusiasm. There’s also a commercial purporting to show what the AI Pin can do in the wild.

The AI pin can do things such as read and summarize a text chain, saving you the tedious labor of engaging in human connection with your friends. It can take a picture or a recording. It can project stuff on your hand for some reason. You can hold up something to the camera and ask if you can eat it based on your nutritional goals for the day. Because who doesn’t want to store the information on everything they eat in someone’s remote server? And who wants to fat shame themselves when they could get an AI Pin to do it for them?

Oh yeah, it can also play music out of a tiny speaker! Sorry, a “personic” speaker.

There is one cool thing where it will do spontaneous translation for you. I’m a little skeptical that this would work well in a noisy environment such as the crowded restaurant where the guy uses it in the ad, but if it did work, that’s a thing that would at least be useful in some cases. But $699 with a $24/month subscription, feels like a lot for that one occasionally useful feature. (Of course the real purpose of wearing the AI Pin is to show off that you have an AI Pin, and I suppose it accomplishes this even when it’s not turned on.)

What’s funny about the ad is that it stresses the need to get out in the world and away from your phone screen, which of course you can do for free.

Rabbit R1

This is something you hold rather than wear, and it’s cute as hell. But what does it actually do? Well, according to the videos posted by the founder (which are charming no-budget affairs which I assume is a deliberate marketing strategy to feign authenticity), it can accomplish such things as reading a Discord chat and summarizing it for you (because, again, who wants to interact with friends?). It can play music! It can look at some loose wires and tell you that the device you’re looking at might work better if the wires were connected!

I guess they’ve promised that in the future it can interact with websites, so you can ask it to find you the cheapest flight and then book it, saving you dozens of seconds of labor! It is cute as hell, though. But if you’ve got an extra $199 laying around, you might be better off getting a Flipper Zero, which at least can serve as a universal remote.

01 Light

Once again we have a handheld AI device with a dead-eyed founder looking at the camera, though this one at least has some human facial expressions. She demonstrates how you can be outside with this thing in your hand and check the weather! Or search for a concert and email your friend the link to tickets! (Again, this might have taken a full minute at a computer!) Or answer a work email! It also shows how you can teach it to do things on your computer like send a Slack message.

I dunno—this one’s really cheap and open source besides, so it seems less sinister than the others, but most of the use cases here seem to be that it will allow you to do work away from your computer. Which of course means you’re always at work, which is the problem with smartphones too.


Based on these videos, it certainly doesn’t seem like The Singularity is at hand. But if people want to get some expensive toys like this, what’s the harm?

Well, I think we can judge some of the potential harm by the harm that’s been done by smartphones. You’re just going to be generating so much data using these things, and that data will almost certainly be sold to advertisers, scammers, governments, whoever has the money to pay. Most people have already decided that the convenience of owning a smartphone is an okay tradeoff for creating data that can be mined, but what if your every interaction with the internet is moderated through one of these things?

I paid for a Fastmail subscription in part because I didn’t want Google reading my emails. Now these devices are being pitched with “It reads all your emails” as a feature. Right now you might have some data with Apple, some with Google, some with Microsoft…but get one of these babies and your entire digital life will be available for one-stop shopping.

These also, of course, have the potential to even further sanitize and corporatize the internet. If you’re asking your AI for information, it’s probably not going to go to the far corners of the internet to really dig into a story. I guess it might, but we don’t actually know how these things work. Will publications and products be able to buy priority in AI searches? Will everything weird and quirky and individualistic about the internet become essentially invisible because AI isn’t looking at it?

Like I said, I like a gadget. But right now these things seem to have a lot of downsides and only a few cute little parlor tricks as an upside.