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Augmented intelligence: What is it, and how does it work?

When we hear the term artificial intelligence, dystopian images of robots replacing us often pop into our heads. But what if we looked at it a bit differently? Maybe machines don’t need to take over? Meet augmented intelligence. It uses AI capabilities to enhance human performance rather than replace it.

Augmented intelligence: What is it, and how does it work?

What is augmented intelligence?

Augmented intelligence is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) with the intention of enhancing human capabilities rather than mimicking human intelligence or replacing it. Augmented intelligence works in tandem with human intelligence, unlike what is usually envisioned for artificial intelligence technologies. It puts people at the center of this symbiotic relationship.

Augmented intelligence vs. artificial intelligence

So, what’s the difference between artificial intelligence and augmented intelligence? We shouldn’t put these two concepts in opposing categories.

You can think of augmented intelligence as a design approach. It’s a way of thinking about AI systems rather than a separate technology from AI. Augmented intelligence still uses computer technologies like machine learning and deep learning for data analytics. Just the goal is different — human intelligence amplification rather than replacement.

As advanced as machine intelligence is, it’s still lacking in some areas. AI is good at processing large amounts of data fast but still needs human assistance in interpreting it. People have imagination, autonomy, and common sense, but they can process less data than a machine.

How does augmented intelligence work?

Augmented intelligence combines what humans and AI are best at. It can collect and process vast amounts of data so that people can perform the decision-making part. In fact, you’ve probably used augmented intelligence before. Ever talked to virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri, or Google home? That’s augmented intelligence.

Let’s take a look at what it looks like in action:

  1. First, it starts with gathering data points. For example, I ask my virtual assistant to tell me my schedule tomorrow.
  2. Then comes data analytics — natural language processing to understand my request then sifting through my schedule to determine what appointments I have.
  3. Now comes my interaction with the AI. The virtual assistant presents me with my appointments.
  4. But what if my virtual assistant misunderstood me? It presents me with the schedule for the next week, instead. Well, that’s where feedback comes in. I correct the assistant, so it can process the data again, better.
  5. The last step is human decision-making — a crucial part of augmented intelligence. Once my virtual assistant presents me the correct data, I can decide to reschedule, cancel, or add new appointments to my calendar.

To learn more, check out our article on the risks of virtual assistants.

What is augmented intelligence used for?

Augmented intelligence can do so much more than just help you with daily tasks. Augmented intelligence is important because of its ability to process big data, pinpoint patterns, and help people to make accurate data-driven decisions.

Human oversight is essential for minimizing potential AI errors. Humans have the ability to see the big picture, think creatively, and use common sense, which is essential

Augmented intelligence solutions are handy in business, healthcare, education and other industries. Let’s take a look at how this technology looks in action.

Examples of augmented intelligence

Here are a few examples of augmented intelligence uses:

  • Healthcare. AI data collection and analytics can help doctors process patient information like health history and symptoms. It can help humans find unnoticed patterns and suggest diagnoses and treatments. With this information, healthcare professionals can evaluate the data and make a decision about the next steps for their patient.
  • Pharmaceuticals. Augmented intelligence can help researchers discover new drugs by analyzing chemical compounds and their interactions.
  • Business. Augmented intelligence can analyze customer preferences, shopping habits, and product popularity and even predict future purchases. With these insights, shop owners can make business decisions, like what products they should order and offer to shoppers.
  • Finance. Augmented intelligence can monitor stock markets and news and predict which industries are worth investing in.
  • Air transport. The pilots take care of the most complex tasks in a flight — taxi, takeoff, and landing. Auto-pilot systems take care of the rest of the flight. However, even then a pilot can take over the flight whenever human decision-making is needed.