If we were to strip away artificial intelligence (AI) from the world as we know it today, I’m not convinced humans would know how to cope with work and life.
Let’s consider some likely scenarios.
Without AI, there’d be no Waze or Google Maps to show us where to go. There would be no Siri or Alexa to handle our Google searches or schedule a meeting with the CIO. Do you know that Boeing 777 pilots only actually fly the plane for seven minutes, with much of the rest being done by AI technology? Imagine what this scenario would mean for them.
There would be no marketing automation.
No clever sales tools pulling customers in.
No process automation or business insights.
No analytics to predict future outlooks.
No chatbots answering simple – and frequent – customer queries.
AI already does a lot of the thinking for us. It’s been telling us what to do for years and we listen to it because we know it’s right. We could argue this makes us lazy, but the fact remains that AI has also liberated us from life’s mundane tasks, giving us more time to create, to think deeply about business and societal problems, and to solve them in new and exciting ways – or eliminate them entirely.
It’s only the beginning
The AI market is growing at an astounding rate. IDC predicts it will exceed US$79 billion by 2022 and Gartner concurs, stating that by 2020, AI will be one of the top five investment priorities for more than 30 percent of the world’s CIOs.
Today, we’re only at the narrow intelligence stage. What happens when we start nearing general intelligence? Or super intelligence?
For now, we’re still smarter than the machines. They give us data and we decide what to do with it. We tell them what to look for, what to stop looking for, and how to recognise what is important in the future. However, the goal with general AI – the next step in AI evolution – is to successfully mimic the human brain so machines don’t need us to tell them what to do. What should we expect when that happens?
Not so easy
Before we answer that question, think about the human brain for a moment. It processes data rapidly but also applies intuition, creativity, and empathy when making decisions. Machines can’t – and may never – emulate human emotion, which is why AI will always need human intelligence for support. We created AI, after all.
There’s no doubt the smart techies among us will also create Artificial Neural Networks that can think and act like humans. Once that happens, machines will analyse complex, real-time data and decide what to do for themselves. We may have no choice but to accept their decisions, unless we want to spend decades analysing data that AI processed in seconds.
We can no longer deny the immense benefits AI offers human life today. In the amount of time it takes Waze to calculate a route, AI algorithms will predict natural disasters so response teams can act faster and more effectively to minimise impact. AI will analyse your family’s medical history to create a personalised treatment plan and improve your chances of recovery after your smartwatch told you to see your doctor because you were at risk of a heart attack.
No AI without humans
The fact of the matter is that there’s not much point to AI if there aren’t humans making things happen: emergency teams saving lives, doctors monitoring patients’ vitals and treatment responses, and visionary business leaders using AI to transform industries.
AI has given human intelligence room to breathe and expand, to maximise its potential. In today’s fast-paced business landscape, cloud computing, Software-as-a-Service, and process automation reduce the admin burden and provide insights and visibility needed to cut through complexity and remain competitive. AI transforms how enterprises manage their people, processes, and operations to offer enhanced customer service, boost productivity, and propel their businesses forward by using innovative technology.
Human intelligence and AI are complementary, symbiotic, inseparable. They need to coexist to light our paths to a more enabled future. Machines may become smarter than us, but isn’t that a good thing? When we know exactly what to do, we can move much faster and ensure outstanding results. That’s what we’ve been trying to achieve for decades.
By Matthew Kibby, Vice-President, Services, Africa & Middle East at Sage