Obsessing Over AI Is the Wrong Way to Think About the Future

Posted by K R on

FOR MANY OF us, the concept of artificial intelligence conjures up visions of a machine-dominated world, where humans are servants to the devices they created. That’s a frightening image, inspired more by Hollywood and science fiction writers than technologists and the academic community. The truth is less sensational but far more meaningful. We’re actually nowhere near the self-sustaining robots Isaac Asimov imagined in I, Robot. What we have instead is intelligence amplification (IA), a field with exponentially more potential to change the world in the immediate future. The distinction between AI and IA is as simple as it is significant. AI makes machines autonomous and detached from humans; IA, in on the other hand, puts humans in control and leverages computing power to amplify our capabilities. For a real-world example of IA, look no further than IBM’s Watson, an intelligence amplification machine that is often mistaken for AI. The feedback loop created by exposing intelligence to humans through APIs enables Watson machine to learn and improve the information it provides. The machine presents that information to humans and then learns from their decisions. Like much of IA, Watson becomes smarter by amplifying our own intelligence. While humans have used tools to bolster their productivity for centuries, the proliferation of application programming interfaces (APIs)—the mortar connecting the bricks of our digital world—in recent years has enabled greater access to valuable information in real time. The combination of intelligent computers, intelligent software, and APIs has profound implications for our everyday lives. Read More: WIRED

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