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Artificial Intelligence - Friend Or Foe?

It isn't irrational for people to express concern over the thought that artificial intelligence may soon replace humans in the workforce. But what if human intelligence (HI) and artificial intelligence (AI) developed the perfect partnership? We created these systems to help us, not to overpower us. Technology is here to enhance our professions, not steal them.

Artificial Intelligence - Friend Or Foe?

IBM has been at the forefront of artificial intelligence since the 1950s, and has recently acquired three AI services in addition to their most eminent project, Watson. Watson is a computer consisting of a collection of algorithms that processes enormous unstructured data, learns and then reveals insights about them1.

AI thrives on data and is based on the accumulation of knowledge over time - similar to the cognitive abilities of human beings. Moreover, AI systems now possess the ability to continuously improve themselves - refining outcomes and responses to specific situations over time1.

How has AI already transformed this generation?

AI is not the future, AI is now. Alexa, Siri and self-serve checkouts at the supermarket are examples of how AI has already been incorporated into daily life1. AI even detects and recognises the faces when you upload a photo to Facebook. Data handling is a tedious task and AI platforms have helped to automate these processes1.  

Online retail giant, Amazon, introduced a ‘home assistant’ called Echo in 2014, that is powered by their own AI program. Echo provides news updates, information, assistance with ordering products and it can also act as a home remote control2.

The appetite for even more advanced AI applications is growing rapidly in consumer-facing industries, and is spreading to others. Healthcare, education, and entertainment are industries next in line to be infiltrated by cognitive computing systems3.

Progressive collaboration of AI and HI

Machines have conquered automated processes - provide directions, answer calls and drive our cars. But companies like IBM, Google and Amazon aren’t inventing these systems to overthrow human intelligence; they are made to benefit us.

The CEO of Google believes that manpower will never be replaced4. Technology will only assist and enhance us, because ultimately, human judgment is necessary to control these systems4.

There have been a couple of notable instances where machine intelligence has triumphed over the human brain. The first occurrence was in 1997, when IBM’s Deep Blue beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov at his own game5.

Time and time again, machine intelligence has been positioned as the opponent, but what if it was designed to assist a human player, taking advantage of both kinds of intelligence simultaneously6? This synergy could allow anyone to excel in any game6.

A freestyle chess tournament in 2005 validated this point6. Man and machine could enter together as partners. The winners were two amateur chess players with their three PCs. They were able to do it, with the right process - a balance between when to use computer and when to use human judgement.

At Microsoft’s Ignite conference, CEO Satya Nadella affirmed artificial intelligence to be the next horizon of digital disruption. "It is about infusing every application with intelligence. We want to empower people with the tools of AI so they can build their own solutions."7

Nadella provided the examples of Outlook, which utilises AI to organise e-mails and create a centralised inbox, so irrelevant e-mails are disregarded automatically; Skype’s eight language options has collapsed communication barriers7. These tech tools all aid in productivity by helping employees remain focused on the tasks at hand.

The pressure on the bottom line is relieved when machines are able to accelerate repetitive activities such as data processing, so more time and resources can be dedicated to higher value work and delivering improved experiences1.

Co-existence - the road map to success

The next generation of AI is already in development - machines with capabilities of complex decision-making, anticipating needs and wants, suggesting solutions, predicting outcomes and identifying our emotions1. Humans will be able to dedicate their time to problem resolution instead of repetitive labour and dangerous tasks.

"In a world where humans and machines are working together in increasingly collaborative relationships, breakthroughs in the field of machine vision will potentially help us live healthier, more productive lives," said Guru Banavar, vice president of cognitive computing at IBM Research3.

Rather than preserving the view that AI advancement means human defeat and job losses, we should grasp a deeper understanding of how machine intelligence can improve human judgment. The human creative mind remains the one aspect that machines cannot mimic. The knowledge of AI is built upon data and facts, whereas the creative mind is enriched through experiences and emotions - things that machines cannot feel or reproduce. Technology can be used to enhance creativity, which can boost productivity and efficiency for many industries.

Job roles will be redefined, not replaced, and new jobs will be created. HI and AI’s state of equilibrium will define the outlook for humanity.
   

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1Retrieved from Razack, A. (2016). How artificial intelligence will transform your business. www.businessinsider.com.au
2Retrieved from AFP. (2016). Tech giants racing to find edge in artificial intelligence. indianexpress.com
3Retrieved from Monegain, B. (2016). IBM and MIT team on cognitive computing, machine vision, artificial intelligence for healthcare. www.healthcareitnews.com
4Retrieved from Vanian, J.(2016). Google Artificial Intelligence Guru Says A.I. Won’t Kill Jobs. fortune.com
5Retrieved from Rasskin-Gutman, D. (2010). The Chess Master and the Computer. www.nybooks.com
6Retrieved from Baraniuk, C. (2015). The cyborg chess players that can't be beaten. www.bbc.com
7Retrieved from Rubinstein, D. (2016). Microsoft’s goal: Democratizing artificial intelligence. sdtimes.com

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