Although vendor-written, this contributed piece does not promote a product or service and has been edited and approved by Network World editors.
The philosophical war between artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligence augmentation (IA) has been waged for more than half a century, with the focus shifting between the two as each has made important strides.
On one side, the AI camp believes the future of computing is autonomous systems that can be taught to imitate/replace human cognitive functions. A recent example is Google’s autonomous car, where the machine completely replaces human intervention and interaction.
On the other side, the IA folks believe that information technology can supplement and support human thinking, analysis, and planning, but leave the human at the center of human-computer interaction (HCI). Consider a car collision avoidance system that can help a driver prevent an accident, but doesn’t actually remove the driver from the picture.
The last two decades have witnessed AI’s rising fortunes, with the success of IBM’s Deep Blue computer, which beat chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov in 1997, IBM’s Watson defeat of Jeopardy champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in 2011, and most recently, Google’s AlphaGo defeate of Go champion Lee Sedol this year.
These successes demonstrated the superiority of computers over humans in accomplishing a certain kind of undertaking. And following each, countless predictions emerge of the ascension of machines and the demise of the human. Vivek Wadhwa, a distinguished fellow at Stanford and Duke universities and business technology specialist, recently said, "In a decade or two you'll find that robots and artificial intelligence can do almost every job that human beings do. We are headed into a jobless future.”
AI, bots and the cloud
According to AI theorists, it’s not just game-playing computer programs that are poised to wrest control of your life. In the last few months Microsoft, Google and Facebook have all announced bot frameworks – software designed to automate tasks, like setting up an appointment or performing an Internet search.
Modern bots employ AI technology to process conversations (or text sessions), effectively replacing the human operators who typically stand behind these processes. Recent examples of bots and chatbots include Domino’s bot for ordering pizzas, Taco Bell’s bot for ordering food via Slack, and (the slightly creepy) X.ai bot which automatically schedules meetings with colleagues while posing as a human.
Experts predict bots will soon replace apps as the primary way we complete tasks. The simplicity of the bot promises to replace the rigid structure of the app; it’s easier and more intuitive to use. Instead of navigating through an app, you will simply speak to (or text) a bot and tell it what you want.
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