Let’s stop making this about competition for a second. Because there is no real competition here— there are plenty of things bots will beat humans at every time. That includes fun stuff like crunching numbers, sorting through data, and pattern recognition. And the things that humans are better at than traditional AI? You know these. Things like picking up on language nuance, flexing our emotional intelligence, complex problem solving, and creative thinking are our domain. Not to mention not freaking out when getting wet. We’re good at that too.
Works Well With Robots
Aquaphobia aside, do you see how our skill sets are quite complementary here? What if we were to combine machine learning power with human learning power? Imagine a future where Pareto’s 80/20 rule is applied in this way: 80% of our work is automated, and 20% of our work is still us. For example: imagine a medical clinic staffed with computers that use their algorithms to schedule appointments, routinely find the most up-to-date medical journals, and populate medical forms? That would mean a whole lot more doctor/patient face-to-face time. Robots are helpful when we need someone to do the heavy lifting and computing. They’re fully capable of supporting human planning. And they’re fully capable of leaving us alone as the commanders in our HCI (human-computer interaction) arrangements.
AI versus IA
AI and IA are both “a thing” (that’s not a typo.) AI is what powers Uber’s self-driving cars and beats chess whizzes. It’s what everyone’s worried will hijack the workforce and replace jobs left and right. IA, on the other hand, stands for intelligence augmentation. It’s technology that assists and enriches human brainpower. Maybe the phrase “machine learning” gives you chills just reading it. But try not to see it as a competitive threat: what if the robots were on our side?
Robots Can Do Our Dirty Work With Glee
Here’s the thing: every second, we generate about 10 billion megabytes of new information. But we can’t process it all. We can’t keep up. We don’t have the attention span, mental capacity, or blinding, all-consuming, never-sleeping drive. And although it might hold the keys to helping improve our society greatly, only a portion of this data is analyzed. This is a problem IA can help with, and there are some forward-thinkers in the industry who already are hashing this out. Tech giant IBM is already turning the focus to IA. And everyone’s favorite entrepreneur Elon Musk has started developing neural lace, brain-to-computer interface straight out of a sci-fi dream: it aims to seamlessly access the internet through thought.
Work is for Bots, Life is for Humans
To end, here’s a quote from a great Wired piece about IA: “This is not a race against the machines. If we race against them, we lose. This is a race with the machines. You’ll be paid in the future based on how well you work with robots.” The great thing about bots is that they don’t have the distractions of worrying about their kids, or that weird nightmare they had, or tonight’s Tinder date. They don’t even get hangry. They’re just there to work. We’re the ones with relationships, empathy, hopes, fears, and dreams. And robots can pick up some of our slack and give us back the time we need to dream up the next big thing.