Augmented Intelligence – Combining the Human and the Artificial Mind

In recent years, the exponential boom of Artificial Intelligence has given the world many new technological advancements, and is considered a potential disruptor to basically any industry you can think of. While previously thought of as merely a way of replacing monotonous human labor, companies are now pivoting their initial view of where the true value of AI lies. Companies are now realizing that the true value of using AI lies not in simply replacing human labor, but in rather in the combination of the two. This merging of the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence and the human abilities is referred to as Augmented Intelligence, a state where the value of their combination surpasses the separate individual value. Or more simply put, a state where 1 + 1 > 2. 

Understanding Augmented Intelligence

In order to understand Augmented Intelligence, let’s first define what Artificial Intelligence is. To put it in general terms, Artificial Intelligence is the creation of machines with the purpose of mimicking the human mind and/or body, i.e, have similar reactions and be able to do similar labor. My colleague David Roberts puts it nicely in his interpretation of Artificial Intelligence, and states that ”Artificial Intelligence is the computer-based technology by which humans can off-load challenging but routine work to machines.”

Augmented Intelligence on the other hand is similar, but not quite the same thing. Instead, Augmented Intelligence is an interplay between the human mind and the capabilities of the machine, a way of enhancing the capabilities of the individual human. It involves the human and the machine working together as a unit, both leveraging the strength of the other in order to generate value. As such, Augmented Intelligence does not center around replacing the human mind with an artificial substitute, but rather revolves around elevating the human capabilities to work more efficient, smarter, and receive superior results compared to previous methods.

According to Gartner research”Augmented Intelligence will deliver the highest benefits from Artificial Intelligence technology”, and advocates that businesses should prioritize Augmented Intelligence for long term contributions in regards to business volume, quality, and innovation. The benefits of pursuing Augmented Intelligence, i.e pursuing a strategy of combining the human capabilities with Artificial Intelligence, can be seen in three separate instances of forward thinking;

– Short Term Benefits: In the short term, Artificial Intelligence will take the overhand and help your business scale volume, reduce human errors, and automate and perform otherwise routine task for an employee.

– Medium Term Benefits: In the medium term, the interplay between the human capabilities and Artificial Intelligence will help scale quality, elevate the human capabilities, and impact the creation of new products or services.

– Long Term Benefits: In the long term, the interplay between the human capabilities and Artificial Intelligence will be frictionless, creating opportunities to scale interdisciplinary innovation and nuance customer personalization.

Applying Augmented Intelligence

Within business operations, an example of the power of Augmented Intelligence is the collection of scattered data from multiple sources. Gathering data from siloed systems combines the strengths of both the human capabilities and Artificial Intelligence further expands the intelligence level, as the amount of information we have at our disposal to make decisions is by far deeper than before, and is evidently what makes the man-machine combination so powerful. As a consequence of being more informed, we can elevate the human capabilities for acting on the information, which in turn may affect customer experiences, and reveal potential opportunities or threats.

In the pharma sphere, Augmented Intelligence can help improve the quality of patient care, and can further decrease the risks of medical errors, as pharma practitioners leverage the capabilities of the technology to enhance their own capabilities to become more efficient when performing otherwise time-consuming procedures, such as monitoring, data collection, and drug development.

A very simple analogy is to think of a person operating an excavator. As mentioned before, the long term benefits of pursuing Augmented Intelligence is that the interplay between the human capabilities and Artificial Intelligence will be frictionless. And with enough practice, the excavator rather becomes an extension of the human operating it, and the excavator is now rather elevating the human capabilities of digging.

The possibilities for Augmented Intelligence are endless, but it’s fair to say that the ultimate goal for pursuing Augmented Intelligence is to have the human common sense manage the risks of decision automation, while leveraging it to increase the level of efficiency of whatever it is that you are working with.

A quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson states that “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions”, a quote that seems to fit well with the value of continuously augmenting the current level of intelligence. A perhaps more modern take on Emersons quote is Apple’s old slogan ”Wheels for the Mind”, clearly addressing the value of combining the capabilities of man and machine.

The key to finding superior value is thus not to replace one mind for another, but rather stretch the combined mind for further value creation.

* Special thanks to Mikael Palmblad and Dave Roberts for inspiration.

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