AR­TI­FI­CIAL IN­TEL­LI­GENCE WILL MAKE US MORE HU­MAN, NOT LESS

Chih-Han Yu CEO Ap­pier

Portfolio - - PORTFOLIO -

At this stage of 21st cen­tury, we are liv­ing in a time when the need for in­ter­ac­tion with other peo­ple is di­min­ish­ing – or­der­ing a meal, a taxi or mak­ing an ap­point­ment no longer re­quires a phone call or an out­ing. Hol­ly­wood movies and other tele­vized imag­in­ings of the fu­ture would have us be­lieve that robots will soon take over. Large tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies are also ea­ger to bring the fu­ture to us, tout­ing ad­vanced ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) tech­nol­ogy in our homes, our cars, and any num­ber of other places in our lives.

This might lead us to ques­tion the role of hu­mans in an in­creas­ingly au­to­mated world. AI has been around since the 1950s, and in­creased com­put­ing power has sped up its de­vel­op­ment. At its core, AI is an­a­lyz­ing data to make in­formed de­ci­sions and pre­dic­tions, but its abil­ity to do things faster, more ef­fi­ciently, and more pre­cisely than peo­ple may challenge our un­der­stand­ing of hu­man­ity.

For all its vast ca­pa­bil­i­ties, AI cer­tainly has lim­i­ta­tions. Through the things it can­not do, it will draw out the core of what makes us hu­man. Sci­en­tif­i­cally, it is still chal­leng­ing for AI to lead a team, em­pathize, or be in­spired by an im­age or a sound that might lead to the spark of a new idea. Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and hu­man in­tel­li­gence work­ing in tan­dem will drive us for­ward, and our hu­man traits will be as im­por­tant as ever.

In busi­ness, AI is be­ing rapidly adopted to help or­ga­ni­za­tions of all types an­a­lyze data to ad­dress op­er­a­tional chal­lenges and drive in­no­va­tion. Some might wonder what the fu­ture of work looks like if ev­ery­thing be­comes au­to­mated, and hu­mans are no longer re­quired to solve prob­lems or com­plete com­plex tasks – things that have long ful­filled peo­ple pro­fes­sion­ally. How­ever, as many fa­mous busi­ness lead­ers have said, hire peo­ple smarter than you. AI so­lu­tions – whether adopted within mar­ket­ing or fi­nance, pro­cure­ment or lo­gis­tics – should be viewed as the ad­di­tion of a won­der­ful new team mem­ber with the ca­pa­bil­ity to make things more ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive.

Why should we see it this way? Be­cause AI helps us to be bet­ter at what we’re al­ready good at. Take a judge in a le­gal pro­ceed­ing for ex­am­ple. In read­ing a case she will learn huge amounts of in­for­ma­tion, and as she be­comes over­whelmed or tired, she may miss im­por­tant points that would give her a full pic­ture of what hap­pened. AI can look at all the in­for­ma­tion and iden­tify con­nec­tions or clues that the judge might over­look, sim­ply be­cause she’s a hu­man who needs to recharge and re­fuel. In the end, hu­mans still make the most im­por­tant de­ci­sions. AI can show her ev­ery­thing, and with that com­plete view, she can best ap­ply her hu­man skills – em­pa­thy, un­der­stand­ing of nu­ance and bias, her law ed­u­ca­tion. AI sim­ply makes sure she has all pos­si­ble data to work with – it doesn’t make the fi­nal rul­ing. Sim­i­larly, AI gives a CEO com­plete vis­i­bil­ity into what’s hap­pen­ing at his com­pany. With this knowl­edge, he can ap­ply his ex­pe­ri­ence and busi­ness ac­u­men to make crit­i­cal de­ci­sions.

Con­sumers are in­creas­ingly com­fort­able in­ter­act­ing with AI through things like chat­bots and au­to­mated ser­vices but know­ing where to start with AI adop­tion in a busi­ness set­ting can be be­wil­der­ing. Ex­ec­u­tives ea­ger to keep pace with the com­pe­ti­tion might try to put AI into mul­ti­ple pro­cesses and ex­pect re­sults overnight, only to be dis­ap­pointed. This is again where hu­man in­tel­li­gence comes in. At this point in time, it is still chal­leng­ing for AI to know the CEO’s big­gest busi­ness chal­lenges, the lowhang­ing fruit or what keeps him up at night. AI can’t lead its own way into an or­ga­ni­za­tion. Suc­cess­ful AI adop­tion re­quires us to call on one of our most ba­sic hu­man skills – com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Lead­ers must go out into the busi­ness, talk to staff about chal­lenges they face and where they need help, as­sure them that there will be so­lu­tions that make sense for them, and that their well-be­ing and pro­duc­tiv­ity are of ut­most im­por­tance.

Im­ple­ment­ing AI into some, if not most, busi­ness op­er­a­tions isn’t op­tional, just like any com­pany still us­ing a fax ma­chine would be very lonely by now. Cus­tomers are ex­pect­ing products, ser­vices and re­sources at their fin­ger­tips, and the speed at which AI can in­form de­ci­sions and pre­dict po­ten­tial prob­lems will be cru­cial to re­tain and grow busi­ness. In the­ory, there’s noth­ing that AI won’t be able to sup­port even­tu­ally, but it takes the hu­man eye to look at it crit­i­cally, as­sign its role, and note its lim­i­ta­tions. When we cou­ple the best parts of hu­man­ity – emo­tion, com­pas­sion, cre­ativ­ity – with the best parts of AI – logic, scale, speed – we will achieve much more to­gether than ei­ther en­tity could do by it­self.

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