Centaurs Wear Ties 👔

I’m firmly in the Augmented Intelligence camp when it comes to where I think the real benefits lie when it comes to AI. Turns out the biggest benefit for business comes from pairing humans with machines, not replacing. 👤+🤖=❤️

In our research involving 1,500 companies, we found that firms achieve the most significant performance improvements when humans and machines work together.

Surprise, surprise, humans and machines are good at different things! Shocker, I know. But that means that, if done properly, they can be combined to achieve better results than either could individually. The dream and promise of centaurs. 🙌

According to this study there are 3 rolls humans need to fill with their machine counterparts 👤:

They must train machines to perform certain tasks; explain the outcomes of those tasks, especially when the results are counterintuitive or controversial; and sustain the responsible use of machines (by, for example, preventing robots from harming humans).

And in a nice but of symmetry, the rule of threes applies to the machines as well 🤖:

They can amplify our cognitive strengths; interact with customers and employees to free us for higher-level tasks; and embody human skills to extend our physical capabilities.

That second one, interact, is the hot button topic right now, as evidenced by Google’s Duplex and the reaction it garnered. 🖲
Src: Harvard Business Review

Oz the Great and Artificial 🔮

The newest hotness in the AI world is called the “Wizard of Oz design technique”. ❇️

Actually, this refers to when tech companies claim to be using AI but are really using humans. Could be to seem cool and hip. Could be to trick investors until they can actually develop the tech. Ultimately, it’s not cool. 🚫😎

I’d been wondering where the talent and knowledge for all these AI-powered features, companies, and startups has suddenly come from. This AI spring is still relatively young but it suddenly seemed like everyone was using AI for everything. It all makes sense now. 💡

Src: The Guardian

BurgerBot 🍔

This video from TechCrunch is a really cool glimpse of one the many possible AI futures. Not because they built a robot with some AI capabilities to make you an obsessively engineered burger all by itself, but because of the business model Alex, the creator and owner of Creator, lays out at the end. 💱

This is an example of how automated systems can improve people’s jobs and work experience instead of replacing them and causing a jobpocalypse. Remember, centaurs are the future. 🔮

What I’m most interested in is whether or not this model can scale. I’m sure plenty of people will say that this model will never work and the economics don’t make sense and it’ll be a niche player and not a global behemoth. But why not? Ultimately we dictate what the future can be, so it’s just a matter of working towards what we want versus what we fear. 💫

Src: TechCrunch

The Whole Will Be Greater Than the Sum of the Parts

I’m incredibly optimistic about the potential of human-machine teams, or centaurs. And not just because the name for them is cool and mythical. I think they make AI more immediately useful as the human can handle the intangible “soft skills” we’ve yet to figure out how to recreate in code and the machine can handle the crazy computation and pattern recognition that make them special.

This post lays out the potential nicely in the context of jobs and the economy. Are we in for some changes? Yes. Are we all going to be out of work in 5 years? I highly doubt it.

Src: Irving Wladawsky-Berger’s blog