Intelligence Augmentation vs. Artificial Intelligence

The idea of Intelligence Augmentation (IA) has been around since the 1950’s. IA technologies assist the human by utilizing a machine to perform tasks which they have always performed better than humans.  Machines have always been better at things like speedy computations so they can process huge data sets to augment human capabilities and increase productivity.  Machines can work alongside humans to handle tasks that are hard, difficult or repetitive.  For example, in factories, robots may perform many of the labor intensive tasks, however, humans must design and program the machines to perform the tasks.  Or an investigator might search specific databases to find the data that they need.  These huge sets of data have to be compiled and aggregated by machines into a digestible form that the investigator can use.

What is AI?

Merriam Webster defines artificial intelligence as "the capability of a machine to imitate human behavior." But can human intelligence be precisely described and then simulated by a machine? AI takes whatever data is imputed and learns relationships and patterns within the data then uses it to make predictions.  It can learn how to carry out tasks without being specifically programmed to do so.  However, the data still must be input initially, by something (a human).  While machines are good at working with huge sets of data, machines still don't have soft skills - the ability to have empathy or understand emotion.  This is important because humans are emotional, and often make decisions based on emotion, rather than logic or rational thinking.  Take the financial markets, for example.  There is an old saying on Wall Street that the market is driven by just two emotions:  fear and greed.  Human interaction is complex and would be difficult to explain with a set of data or algorithms and thus difficult to simulate or imitate.

We are still far away from a machines utilizing AI to be completely autonomous.  However, advancement in intelligence augmentation using AI and machine learning is already a reality and part of our day-to-day lives with IoT and  personal assistants like Alexa and self-parking cars.

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