What's happening is the entirely predictable result of internet hype.
When AI and expert systems were hyped, the same thing happened. Massive investment from venture capitalists, exaggerated promises that couldn't be kept. Saturation of the market with hardware specifically designed to run AI.
Then the AI winter set in. Companies got out or went under, no matter how good they are. (The very first dotcom, Symbolics went under (and their server may be down), and is now fondly remembered in two online museums: http://kogs-www.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/~moeller/symbolics-info/symbolics.html and http://smbx.org/museum.htm) Various post-mortems were written.
At least though, behind all the greed, there was a nobler aim: to make machines intelligent.
I bet those who hyped the Internet, and particularly those who hyped Java and XML, ignored all this, which is why they made the same mistakes. With two important difference: this time it's been pure greed, all the way down, and this time "managing customers' expectations" has been conspicuous by its absence.
The AI winter is still with us, with little sign of thawing. Be prepared for a long IT winter.
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© Copyright Donald Fisk 2003