AI is another disruptive technology of our time, and just like its predecessors, it will have a profound impact on our existence.
AI is a set of algorithms designed by humans and expressed through machines that can incorporate the five human senses (seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing and feeling) and ability to communicate (speaking). The very senses that have been historically used to magnify the differences between humans and machines are now enabling machines to effectively handle ever more qualitative operations and analysis.
Recent advancements in machine learning, deep learning and quantum computing has increasingly swelled the desire and ability for people to automate processes. AI and robotic applications enable people to create a new world of accelerated process automation that we could not have achieved without the continued focus on improving intelligent systems and machines.
The History Of Human And AI Cooperation
Humans and machines have coexisted on a large scale since the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s. It commenced a period of profound technological achievements that brought on massive social and economic change spanning almost every conceivable industry in the world — from textiles and transportation to printing and consumer goods to healthcare, schools and governments.
It was signified by machines designed by humans to replace human effort and automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks — allowing humankind the freedom to be more creative and use our imaginations to explore new ideas. More importantly, it gave us the ability to improve the quality and productivity of our work and lives and evolve as people. It was also a time of massive disruption, uncertainty and fear. And, conceivably, it marked the time when humans and machines began to coexist and develop an interdependent relationship. And while some existing jobs were eliminated and replaced by machines, new types of jobs, job functions and business models were created.
This symbiotic relationship has been playing out with every major advancement in technology, further deepening the human-machine interdependent relationship. From the transistor that introduced smaller, less expensive computers and computer processing in the late 1940s to the internet in the 1970s to the Fourth Industrial Revolution currently underway, people continue to rely on machines to solve human problems and automate human tasks.
While machine learning or neural networks have been in development since the 1950s by great minds such as Alan Turing and Marvin Minsky, what has changed is advancements in computing performance and data storage that allow us to capture and retain significant amounts of data that can be used to build AI applications. Now deep learning applications and neural networks can mirror and mimic the human brain and, in some cases, outperform our ability to solve problems and take action.
So, how can we rely on a machine that we built if it can surpass our ability to solve problems and take action? And if a machine can act like us, then what differentiates person from machine? For the human race to continue its evolutionary path, the cooperative relationship between person and machine must also remain strong.
AI Is Not Replacing Us, It’s Improving Us
The World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts that 75 million jobs will be lost to this era of smart automation. It also estimates that 133 million new jobs will be created. These new jobs require new job skills that are intended to leverage and improve AI and its applications. This change will magnify the persistent need for human and AI cooperation and cement our interdependent relationship.
AI- and robot-assisted machines are being deployed worldwide at an unprecedented pace and they’re radically improving outcomes across industries. One illuminating example of AI-assisted applications becoming better with human and AI cooperation is the virtual assistant Alexa and the smart home “connected devices” that followed — aiding humans to more efficiently control and operate lighting, security, room temperature and appliances.
There are countless other examples of AI- and robot-assisted functions and applications that are improving outcomes across industries. From health care using AI assistance in the operating room to improve surgical and patient outcomes to computer-assisted instruction in education to self-driving cars in transportation to the Department of Defense (DoD) with DARPA’s AI Next campaign, it’s clear that AI is capable of dramatically enhancing our lives and our value as humans.
In order for companies to realize benefits from human and AI collaboration, all stakeholders throughout the development supply chain must be involved — from the academics who are advancing AI theory, to data scientists who are applying these theories in industry to design models that solve business problems, to system integrators who are deploying those models into production environments.
Through building systems based on open architecture and making a customer’s data accessible to actionable, we in the industry can go a long way in building proof that increasing human and machine cooperation benefits companies in many areas, from improving business processes to fostering new skills in employees. The key is to focus on both human and human and machine collaboration throughout the solution design practice to ensure that organizations are able to maximize the value of AI.
Process automation is essentially helping us improve our lives and further define what it means to be human. It frees us from mundane, repetitive tasks and empowers us to challenge our human capabilities and focus on what we do best: imagine, improve, innovate and evolve.
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