Artificial Intelligence. I can’t think of a reference to the intellect that would feel more unauthentic and fake. It’s no wonder people turn to The Terminator or The Matrix to fathom what it’s all about. Fortunately, after 60 years of AI rumors fueled by academia and movies, we’re finally starting to see signs that it means more than just robots taking over.
Working in the tech industry, it’s ironic that the AI lightbulb clicked not through an understanding of machine learning or engineering — but through the human challenges we face in the technology world.
While at Yahoo! and Apple, it was amazing to be part of technologies that not only helped enable the modern cloud today but continue to support its more than doubling in performance every year. But on the people side, opening a new data center meant hiring a team with over 100 man-years of various expertise and experience. As these skills became harder and harder to find, we realized that since we couldn’t find more people that had them, we needed to figure out how to get more out of people that didn’t.
We’re living in a world where the evolution of technology is exponentially outpacing that of people. AI is now empowering machines with the intelligence to form its own insights and thoughts. What were sensors are now evolving into senses, where machines can acutely comprehend things like sight, sound, and touch.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling “self-driving” actions to be performed, based on those thoughts and senses. Right in front of our eyes, technology is making the leap from being the inanimate tools of yesterday to serving as our collaborative and conscious AI-powered co-workers of tomorrow. As people, our responsibility is to serve as the manager and mentor of this new form of co-worker.
Using comprehensive human-to-machine learning interfaces, all people will have the ability to effectively teach and mentor our new co-workers using one’s own natural human language. Yes, human knowledge will be the foundation of what makes artificial intelligence real. This is why AI will prove to be more useful as an extension of human intelligence, than a substitution for it. It is then that it will no longer be viewed as Artificial Intelligence, but understood as Augmented Intelligence.
Enter augmented intelligence
AI is going to augment natural human intelligence and enable people to gain the world’s collective expertise while requiring less time and study than what has been required to become an expert in any one thing today. Traditionally in humans, an expert’s mind possesses fewer possibilities for slower growth, while a beginners mind offers many possibilities for rapid growth.
Augmented Intelligence will empower us with the best of both. In doing so, there is no reason to think that our own personal capabilities for intellectual advancement cannot equal or surpass the doubling per year that we see in computers. Yes, we will see the day when the augmented human expert will be able to get 2x smarter, every year.
Being a leader of people, I learned long ago that my own success is more defined by the augmented intelligence and capabilities that my team provides than anything I could solely do as an individual. The same will apply to the new performance enhancing co-workers that will augment our intelligence and capabilities. Through today’s eye, this picture of our future may be seen as heresy or a superhuman threat. That said, the same fear occurred in the past when it was suggested that all people could be given the power of reading.
Evolution is life. Embrace the future.