Augmented decision making vs artificial intelligence

Brief overview of artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented intelligence (AuI)

In the summer of 1956 American computer scientist John McCarthy, along with Alan Turing, Marvin Minsky, Allen Newell, and Herbert A. Simon made first use of the term “artificial intelligence” in a written proposal for a research conference known as the Dartmouth workshop. This is considered to be the beginning of artificial intelligence as a discipline and field of study.

I’ve described the promise and potential downside of future artificial intelligence (AI) breakthroughs. Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk are among the tech and science luminaries who have expressed grave concerns about the possibility that by mid-twenty first century, AI that could spin out of control, quickly surpassing human capabilities.

Since its modest beginnings in the 1950s, and through many advancements in the intervening decades, we’ve experienced cycles of optimism and pessimism about AI’s potential. From the joy of watching a robot vacuum cleaner take care of your chores, to the frustration of having a voice recognition system misunderstand most of what you say, our perceptions can and have changed with frequency depending on our latest experience. But these ups and downs are what’s to be expected with technology that is still in development and probably will be for a long time to come. What most casual observers miss entirely is the parallel, but distinct evolution of research and development in two areas—intelligence augmentation, which works to support our decision-making abilities, and artificial intelligence, which works to develop autonomous digital decision-making. Significantly, intelligence augmentation has received much more funding and achieved more consistently beneficial results than AI.

There is a clear distinction between the two –

What is artificial intelligence (AI)?

“Artificial Intelligence” attempts to replicate human cognition in a computer system to advance such systems towards human-like autonomy, i.e., to create digital entities capable of taking independent action in different environments. Think Google Maps and related navigation systems, facial recognition, recommendation algorithms, Google Assistant, etc.

What is augmented intelligence (AuI)?

“Intelligence Augmentation,” by contrast, is based on the proven premise that we can enhance computer systems to assist human thinking, planning and other forms of decision-making—leaving humans in complete control of the objectives to be achieved. In other words, intelligence augmentation relies on human-computer interaction (often referred to as HCI), rather than autonomous digital systems. Think factory automation systems which are controlled and overseen by humans, online stores using analytics to predict and cater to customer preferences or political groups targeting swayable voters.

Importance of understanding the difference between AI and AuI

AI holds the potential for one day creating things like completely autonomous cyber soldiers and drones. HCI, on the other hand, is already working to develop exoskeletons that help paraplegics walk and increase human strength for able-bodied workers. There is even the concept o hybrid augmented intelligence in which humans assist AI. Whichever the intelligence system, the greatest future benefit, however, will be helping us humans make making better-informed, quicker decisions.

Can the human brain be digitally replicated?

The underlying assumption of AI is that intelligence can be mathematically modeled with highly sophisticated logarithms that will in the future be able to replicate the subtle nuances of human thinking. To date, however, this remains an elusive goal for scientists who work at the nexus mathematical modeling and computer systems.

Unfortunately for AI enthusiasts, there is yet no evidence that the human brain can be simulated mathematically—especially in areas like human intuition, processing ambiguity and situational contexts. Adding to the challenge, human intelligence also encompasses non-rational bodily and perceptual processes.

Google is based on HCI

Researchers hope to develop AI capable of ‘zeroing in’ on a problem quickly without needing to process on all contingencies. It’s not clear, however, how computers could ever do this.

By contrast, HCI-supported “counting out’ abilities, e.g., finding the best answer among a vast set of possibilities from cloud-based big data—far exceed human capabilities. HCI, of course, is the basis for Google and all other search software.

I highlighted the differences between artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligence augmentation (HCI). The two are often confused. While there have been advances in both areas, HCI breakthroughs are revolutionizing decision-making in our personal and business lives.

By comparison, though AI has captured the imaginations of futurists, science fiction writers and attracted investors, there is as yet no evidence that the algorithm-based models required for higher level AI will be able to replicate the autonomous decision-making abilities of the human brain in the future.

Implications of HCI

  • If humans remain in charge, with HCI helping accelerate and improve our decision-making processes, this means humans won’t be supplanted by AI autonomous decision makers in the work environment.
  • Assuming the patterns of previous tech revolutions hold true, new jobs will emerge as HCI advances. For example, manufacturing automation resulted in job loss at first but eventually produced more jobs than were lost.
  • It appears that human work requires more than deductive reasoning. It also requires flexibility, intuition and non-rational insights to connect facts ways that elude the smartest, fastest computers.
  • Looking at it a different way, the most advanced AI systems lack a scope of awareness beyond what they are taught. They ignore out-of-context risks, creating hazards that human decision makers intuitively know to avoid.

Decision-making in the networked age

Developments, already in progress, include the following –

  • Constant connectivity will destabilize previously secure institutions and old ways of doing business.
  • Networks, not individual organizations or individual people, define our new reality.
  • Big Data/Taste Analytics offer great opportunity to those willing to look at any object (not limited, by any means, to the Internet of Things) to envision new kinds of connection. Uber and Airbnb are examples. Economic survival will increasingly require this level of imagination.
  • He envisions ‘gatelands’ that protect users, even entire nations, from those outside one’s own domain. He believes we have to work actively to achieve this if we want our democratic values of freedom of thought, political choice and privacy to prevail.
  • The downside, as mentioned in previous posts, that we must work to overcome is the increasing vulnerability of systems to malicious hacking and the seductive online appeal of divisive, violent philosophies and groups like ISIS.

Final thoughts on the future of AI and AuI in the market and society

Joshua Cooper Ramo recently published the critically acclaimed best seller, “The Seventh Sense” in which he makes the case that HCI is revolutionizing knowledge transfer, commerce, and politics. He believes that HCI breakthroughs will require big changes in government, private sector, and individual decision-making. He believes we’re “at a turning point as important as that of the Age of Enlightenment, into a new era increasing trade and prosperity, longer lifespans, and greater individual autonomy.”

Suggestions for businesses and individuals on how to leverage AI and AuI technologies.

As with any other business system, the use of AI and/or AuI should exist to serve the business and not just for the sake of using the newest technology. Using the latest and most expensive may have a certain “cool” factor, but it may not necessarily improve upon existing systems and methods or may come with so many unforeseen problems as to make them unworthy. At the end of the day, machine learning, augmented analytics and decision automation are only good for business if they’re good for ROI. For personal use, it may be an easier decision, considering that for many people, having the aforementioned “cool” factor can be of greater importance. And you may already be using AI and AuI without even knowing, or at least without thinking much of it. When was the last time you traveled to a new place using a paper map instead of your phone’s navigation app?

Where does OWDT stand on AI and AuI?

OWDT is a web design company which uses AI and AuI to the benefit of its clients. Contact us to ask how we can help implement advanced but vetted technologies to help your business grow.