Intelligence Everywhere: The Post-AI World

By Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells, Alexandra Whittington

We are seeing an accelerating pace of development and widespread embedding of algorithms that replicate core human intelligence functions from language and image processing to planning, reasoning, and decision making. The next three decades of artificial intelligence (AI) development may provide the opportunity to create valuable and previously unthinkable customer experiences that would require new levels of human trust in smart machines. In a post-AI world, is the future still human?

Enhancing Human Activity

Artificial intelligence technology is gaining rapid traction in three key areas: supporting human decision making e.g. fault diagnosis; freeing up humans from routine tasks e.g. service chatbots; and undertaking activities at a scale and speed that is beyond human capability e.g. identifying persons of interest in a crowd. The use of AI-enabled tools opens up the potential to draw on vast volumes of data. AI technology is being deployed ever more widely to free up humans to do tasks that require the kinds of creativity, problem solving abilities, and communications skills that are currently beyond most AIs.

A Hidden Technology

It’s clear that the prospect of an enhanced workforce is what makes AI an attractive and profitable proposition. However, the business case for AI may not be enough to sustain public support for the technology. Much of the positive hype around AI has focused on a few key points, such as operational efficiency. The oft highlighted negatives are the potential to take jobs from human workers.

Human-Machine Cooperation

The potential to collaborate with AI is already driving a number of applications. While today’s AI interactions tend to be mundane (checking the traffic or the weather, autocorrect) future cooperation between humans and machines may open new frontiers of the human experience such as superhuman strength, bionic capacities, and enhanced sensory perception. Algorithmic decision-making tools at our disposal would put decision making, and fact-checking in the hands of AI and robots. Furthermore, personalized AI systems might one day know us better than we know ourselves.

AI’s Societal Impact

Experts have forecast other benefits of AI including that someday it could have a meaningful impact on all of our lives in different ways, even affecting the most disadvantaged people in society. There is a symbiotic relationship at work, too, where as we change AI it also changes us. For example, a growing intimacy with AI may introduce new ideas about robot rights and questioning sentience might impact how robotic labor is utilized in the future.

AI is for Everyone

For these reasons, and more, it’s important that AI be applied in a way that is not just technologically innovative but revolutionary in terms of advancing civic engagement, emotional intelligence, social bonds, interpersonal skills, and enhancing humanity overall.

Finding the right AI-to-human ratio in every situation will require thoughtful experimentation to determine the appropriate level of automation.

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