From artificial intelligence to augmented intelligence

How is augmented intelligence disrupting traditional notions of AI and how businesses can benefit from it?

When the disruptors become the disrupted, you know the second wave of technology has come - and that's just what is happening when it comes to augmented intelligence. This second wave of AI, which has been described as "a human-centred partnership model of people and AI working together to enhance cognitive performance", according to CMS wire, is changing the way organisations interact with AI and is so powerful that Gartner believes it will create as much as $2.9 trillion of business value and 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity globally by 2021.

While it might sound like mere semantics, augmented intelligence is about the seamless blending of human knowledge and skills with artificial intelligence to solve problems. And while much of the focus on AI has traditionally been rooted in the potential to replace human beings, augmented intelligence is about blending the best of what the human mind and insight has to offer with the benefits of AI.

Some see this as nothing new, really. Chris Nicholson, CEO of Skymind, the company behind Deeplearning4j, and the recently launched Pathmind, a cloud-based AI technology that applies reinforcement learning and simulations to real-world business problems, says it's different than AI only insofar as AI can be autonomous, sometimes, while the purpose of augmented intelligence is to pair AI closely with humans.

In essence it is about how AI is used. Anthony Scriffignano, SVP and Chief Data Scientist at Dun & Bradstreet, explains that, in this way, experts can still apply their thinking, intent and morals, something which is often difficult to represent in machine inference. "The whole idea is that you're still the intelligent one; your intelligence is augmented by something that is able to compute at rates that the human brain simply cannot match and with amounts of information that would otherwise be overwhelming," he says.

Companies are looking to potential applications across a range of areas. Brendan Dykes, Senior Director Product Marketing at Genesys, says: "In the context of customer experience, we see a world where AI is embedded in employee's devices, like mobile and desktop to provide real-time tips and suggestions to employees on the spot, acting like their personal assistant."

Inching towards the singularity?

And for some it is emblematic of a move towards the technological singularity. Andrew Grant, Senior AI Product Director at Imagination Technologies, believes that, while the singularity is still a few steps away, augmented intelligence will take us a step closer to it. "Combining the pervasiveness of artificial intelligence with the benefits of assistive technologies will allow us to achieve more and be more productive," he says.

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