Portrait of author Martin Sutton
Martin Sutton

Business Development Director

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Artificial intelligence: AI + humans is the winning formula

By Martin Sutton on September 29, 2017

Today, the media is awash with stories about how artificial intelligence (AI) and robots might make us all redundant in the future. If you’re a taxi driver, for example, the emergence of driverless vehicles must be daunting. But having been a passenger in a driverless car recently, I can confidently say that, given the option of being driven by a human or a computer, I’ll always choose human. And not just for the ‘witty’ banter with the driver.

I was almost involved in a car accident on the M65 while being ‘wowed’ by my friend’s new driverless gleam machine. As such, where cars are concerned, I need more convincing, certainly in the short term. So, what stopped the accident happening? It was the driver. Yes, that’s right, a mere human. He brought the car to a standstill when we doubted AI.

Safety remains my biggest concern with driverless vehicle tech at the moment, but the combination of a semi driverless car with a human is a great formula in my eyes. But what about AI inside businesses? There are lots of things AI can do better than me at work, so should I be worried? No, I can’t wait – and here’s why.

I can’t wait to give all those tedious tasks to our new AI friends

If you read the mainstream media exclusively, you could be forgiven for thinking that your job is on borrowed time as AI gradually swallows up all before it. But there are plenty of expert voices – such as on Bloomberg, the Huffington Post and Computer Weekly – arguing that AI will likely not replace humans, but make them more efficient and more successful, taking away laborious tasks and improving the accuracy of others.

Of course, that narrative doesn’t shift quite as many papers… If you look at what’s going on in the medical world, for example though, cancer diagnoses have become more accurate with AI plus human intervention. How so? Well, while AI is good at tasks that people find difficult, the reverse is also the case. AI can process vast amounts of data quickly and accurately, spotting patterns that are almost impossible for a person to detect. Humans, meanwhile, are much better at identifying false positives.

An example of the latter would be a doctor determining that a patient’s cancer diagnosis is incorrect, because they’d noticed an unusual irregularity that they’d already seen ten years previously. So, if you were a doctor would you fight AI or embrace it? Personally, I’d welcome it and spend more time doing the things I love doing, like dealing with patients and ensuring they have better chance of being correctly diagnosed and successfully treated. So again, here’s an example of AI working alongside humans to make them better at their jobs. This is why, in my humble opinion, AI alone will not replace humans but it will make them more efficient and more successful.

AI in the home? Yes please

Another example of AI assisting humans can be found in our personal lives. Although we may not all realise it, most of us have used AI in the form of assistants like Siri, Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa. By drawing upon contextual information like where we are, our typical commute and our taste in music, they can do things like advise on public transport options, let us know whether we’ll need an umbrella or suggest new music we might like to listen to on the way into work. All this can be done without us needing to spell out every piece of information to our devices each time we interact with them, making life easier and more efficient.

Similarly, the AI capability on my TV saves me hours of wasted time searching for things I might like by recommending programmes I’m likely to enjoy based on my viewing history and that of others. As the human, though, I still get to make the final decision on what to watch. I’m still in control and not the robot inside my TV.

At Peak, AI + Humans deliver great outcomes

It is the approach of AI plus humans that we have taken at Peak, on the basis that it allows us to combine the best elements of both to help our customers be better at what they do. One without the other can only deliver results to a certain level, so why keep them apart?

This is a little insight into how businesses can use their data. To find out if your data could be used in a similar way, have a chat to one of our experts. We’ll tell you what’s possible, with no hard sell.

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