Artificial intelligence has gained a very bad reputation over the years. For some, the term AI has become synonymous with mass unemployment, mass slavery, and robotic mass extermination of humans. Among some, AI also conjures up dystopian visions of Terminator, The Matrix, Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Elon Musk alert messages.
But many experts believe that these interpretations do not do justice to one of the technologies that will have a very positive impact on human life and society.
Enhanced intelligence (AI), also referred to as intelligence increase (IA) and cognitive rise, is a complement—not a substitute—to human intelligence. It’s about inspiring people to get quicker and better in the tasks they’re doing.
At its core, augmented intelligence is not technically different from what is already being presented as AI. There is a somewhat different perspective on technological advances, especially those that allow computers and software to participate in tasks that were thought to be unique to humans.
And although some might call it a marketing term and a different way to reintroduce hype in an already hyped industry, I think it will help us to better understand a technology whose boundaries its own creators can not define.
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What’s wrong with AI (artificial intelligence)?
The problem with artificial intelligence is that it’s very vague. Artificial means replacement for natural. So when you say “artificial intelligence,” it already alludes to something that is on par with for human intelligence. This definition alone is enough to cause fear and panic about how AI will affect employment and life itself.
For the time being, these fears are largely unfounded. True artificial intelligence , also known as general and super AI, which can reason and decide as human beings do, is still at least decades away. Others claim that developing a general AI is an unnecessary task and something we ‘re not expected to try fully. What we’ve got right now is narrow AI.
To be true, technological advances in AI do cause challenges, but perhaps not those that are so amplified and often discussed. Jobs will be displaced, as with every industrial revolution, and perhaps in larger proportions than previous iterations. For example , self-driving trucks, one of the most cited examples, will have an impact on the jobs of millions of truck drivers.Other jobs may disappear, just as industrialization of agriculture significantly reduced the number of human laborers working in plantations and farms. But this doesn’t mean that humans will become obsolete as a result of AI being prevalent.
There are quite a few human abilities that nothing short of human-level intelligence (if ever created) can replicate. For example, even simple tasks, such as gathering objects with different shapes and placing them in a basket, a task that a four-year – old child can perform, are extremely complex from an AI perspective.
In fact, I believe (and I’m going to write about this in a future post — stay tuned) that AI will allow us to focus on what makes us human instead of spending our time doing boring things that robots can do for us.
What’s right with AI (augmented intelligence)?
When we look at AI from an increased intelligence perspective, a number of interesting opportunities arise. Humans face a major challenge, one that they themselves have made. Thanks to advances in cloud computing and mobility, we are generating and storing vast amounts of data. This can be very simple things such as how much time visitors spend on a website and what pages they go to.
Nevertheless, more important and essential information may also be given, such as safety, weather and traffic data. Thanks to smart sensor technology, the Internet of Things ( IoT) and ubiquitous connectivity, we can gather and store information from the physical world in a way that was previously impossible.
These data stores offer great opportunities to minimize congestion in cities, detect early-stage signs of cancer, support students who are lagging behind in their courses, discover and avoid cyber attacks before they deal with their damage, and much more. But the problem is that looking through this data and finding the secrets is beyond human capacity.
As it happens, that is exactly where AI (increased intelligence) and machine learning, in particular, will benefit human experts. AI is particularly good at analyzing huge data reams and finding patterns and correlations that would either go unnoticed to human analysts or take a very long time.
For instance, in healthcare, an AI algorithm can analyze a patient’s symptoms and vital signs, compare it with the history of the patient, that of her family and those of the millions of other patients it has in store, and help her doctor by giving suggestions of what the causes might be. And all of that can be done in a matter of seconds or less. Likewise, AI algorithms can examine radiology images hundreds of times faster than humans, and they can help human experts in helping out more patients.
In education, AI can help both teachers and learners. For instance, AI algorithms can monitor students reactions and interactions during a lesson and compare the data with historical data they’ve collected from thousands of other students. And then they can find out where those students are potentially lagging, where they are performing well. For the teacher, AI will provide feedback on every one of their students that would previously require one-on-one tutoring. This means teachers will be able to make optimal use of their time and spend it where they can make the most impact on their students.
For students, AI assistants may help them develop their learning skills by supplying them with supplementary resources and activities that will help them fill holes in areas where they are lagging behind or possibly face difficulties in the future.
AI with Humans
As these examples and many others show, AI is not about replacing human intelligence, but rather about amplifying or growing it by allowing us humans to make use of the data we produce.
(I personally think intelligence augmentation or amplification is a more suitable term. It uses an acronym (IA) that can’t be confused with AI, and it better describes the functionality of machine learning and other similar technologies. Augmented intelligence refers to the result of combining human and machine intelligence whereas intelligence amplification refers to what functionality these technologies provide.)
To be clear, as I said before, we should not ignore the challenges posed by AI, those listed here, as well as those discussed in previous posts, such as privacy and bias. However, instead of fearing artificial intelligence, we should embrace increased intelligence and find ways we can use it to ease these fears and meet the challenges that lie ahead.