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Intelligence augmentation: the human-machine labour force

Intelligence augmentation: the human-machine labour force

Image by: COM SALUD Agencia de comunicación/Flickr, CC BY

While the arrival of high-level artificial intelligence foreshadows the replication of human faculties, there is a nuanced territory in AI development that suggests human and machines benefit from a symbiotic existence – intelligence augmentation. IA is a component of full-blown robotics that has already integrated with daily functions, business operations and widespread supply chains.

Intelligence augmentation – visible at a basic level in machine learning algorithms and other forms of applied AI – seeks to deliver smart solutions to complement human endeavours. For example, tech-enabled transportation solutions employ real-time visibility and predictive analytics to deliver actionable insights to human stakeholders that may infer heuristic patterns from intelligently pre-screened data.

A key bias among humans is our tendency to judge situations based on broad generalisations or immediate associations. The response to ‘How are you today?’ will trigger an immediate reference to the current mood you are in today rather than an objective analysis of the pros and cons of the day’s activities. Machines lack this bias. They are deft and cold calculators with the ability to supercede obstacles resulting from human conditioning.

Machines, however, lack the ability to think ethically, creatively or subjectively. In this case, heuristic thinking is an asset to human beings. A human worker can account for cultural and behavioural patterns with greater dexterity than machines. Although machines merely mimic human thinking, their lack of psycho-social associations makes them immune to important human decision-making flaws. At the same time, when paired with the non-linear intelligence of a human advisor, both the machine and the human being are more powerful and productive.

As Richard Bookstaber says in “The End of Theory”: “No man is better than a machine, and no machine is better than a man with a machine.”

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