Machine alone or human+machine?
Recent developments in sensors and networking technologies have led to a significant growth in Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as wearables. They are based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, such as machine learning, deep learning, computer vision, natural language processing and big data analytics. These advances have led to the development of autonomous systems, such as smart homes, smart cities, smart energy grids and driverless interconnected cars.
Will such intelligent IoT systems make all human workforce redundant? Will human beings become meaningless in the future of work? Will AI systems fully replace human beings, or will the IoT rather enhance human intelligence and empower us to solve the most pressing issues of our times in a more satisfying way than we would ever have dreamed of? I argue that effective human-computer symbiosis, often referred to as Augmented Intelligence, has the potential to address some of these emerging challenges successfully, possibly more so than pure AI, at least in the foreseeable future.
Artificial Intelligence versus Augmented Intelligence
Augmented Intelligence is defined as computers enhancing human intelligence, while AI commonly refers to computers fully replacing human beings. Much of the hype around the potential of IoT is triggered by purely self-performing, autonomous AI systems powered by big data analytics with data collected from IoT devices. Indeed, the potential of IoT will not materialize without the ability to collect, aggregate and analyze the enormous amount of data created by IoT devices, either by AI alone or supported by human intelligence.
Machine learning, natural language processing, data analytics and other AI applications can perform exceedingly well with large-scale data and without human judgement. In contrast, areas such as design of creative marketing ads, personal selling, hiring and mentoring employees, strategic decision-making and treating diseases are prime examples where human judgment, managerial intuition and human-computer symbiosis can still enhance work performance. Human intelligence is still needed to make decisions related to human-oriented data associated with employees, customers and partners that include their preferences, past behaviors, habits, emotions and personalized information. Human beings generally outperform machines when dealing with ambiguity, vagueness and incomplete information, and when requiring emotional intelligence and judgment, elements that are still considered the most critical limitation of AI. Augmented Intelligence integrates the unique abilities of human beings that cannot be replicated by AI, and legitimate concerns about AI have been raised by Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, among many other visionaries. Large-scale IoT problems often cannot be solved by either computers or human beings alone. Therefore, there are significant opportunities in IoT applications that are coupled with the notion of Augmented Intelligence. Machine learning approaches and human intelligence should be integrated to keep ultimate human control.