Beyond Artificial Intelligence: Hybrid Intelligence

Last month the news was (once again) dominated by Elon Musk. This time it wasn’t SpaceX or Tesla, but a new company he had just started: Neuralink. This company will focus primarily on merging Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Human Intelligence (i.e. the brain). Back in 2014, Ray Kurzweil, an author, computer scientist and futurist currently employed by Google, already touched upon the topic of hybrid thinking in a TED Talk, where humans directly tap into the cloud via their brain to do their thinking. I like to call the merging of the human brain with technology, and specifically Artificial Intelligence, Hybrid Intelligence. In my view this reflects exactly what we try to create: A hybrid between computers and the human brain (i.e. Artificial Intelligence and Human Intelligence).

 

Although AI and Hybrid Intelligence frighten a lot of people currently, we should also be open for the possibilities it will provide us. This article will not cover any moral or ethical implications Hybrid Intelligence might have (trust me, there will be plenty), but what possibilities it will bring in our day-to-day business and how we can transform large corporations’ way of thinking about and opinions toward Hybrid Intelligence .

Nowadays, the focus of most companies is on AI (Machine Learning, Robotics Processing Automation, etc.) and it should be! These things are next in line to disrupt our businesses and have started the next Industrial Revolution which I briefly talked about in my last article (A Future that Might Be). But what if we look one step further and explore the possibilities of Hybrid Intelligence? Will that have the same impact as AI now like the iPhone 4 had for Apple? Or will it be more like the iPhone 6s, where people were still impressed but also disappointed by the lack of innovation?

Although AI and Hybrid Intelligence frighten a lot of people currently, we should also be open for the possibilities it will provide us.

Natural connections in our brain merge with Artificial connections

Even if Hybrid Intelligence would technically already be possible, it would not work right now. We (humans) are not ready for it yet. We are still struggling with the implications AI will have or might have (pessimists will call it the Machine Uprising). Until generic AI is accepted throughout our daily lives, we can start introducing Hybrid Intelligence.

So how can Hybrid Intelligence impact the day-to-day business in a good way? The possibilities are infinite for businesses and their employees. Where nowadays people lose their job by being replaced by a machine, it could very well be the other way around once Hybrid Intelligence comes into play. Companies will have the benefits of an actual human and technology in one (setting aside any physical strength for now). Businesses and employees are directly connected to the Cloud, so can tap into an infinite library of information (and cat videos). Next to that, instant sharing gets a completely different meaning. No more typing emails, but blink twice and you are connected with whoever you want to reach (we might even need spam filters and ad blockers for our brain).

Will we get a microchip in our brain?

With the increasing power and speed of technology, Hybrid Intelligence can be possible. For example, this will never be possible with a slow, old-fashioned database. You would at least require an In-Memory database (on steroids probably), like SAP brought to the market quite recently. Since a lot of companies use SAP as a backbone for their (IT) processes, the foundation for Hybrid Intelligence can be built quite fast.

Currently, the first business process being exposed to AI is Customer Service. So, let’s make the bold assumption this will be the same for Hybrid Intelligence. The ultimate service you can provide to your customer will be to fix it before they notice anything is broken. With Hybrid Intelligence, people working at the Customer Service department will have instant access to all information about appliances and products they sell and have sold to customers. They don’t even have to actively think about it, but as soon as something changes in the settings or functionality of the product there can be a notification and they can “think” about this product and have all information at hand. This also goes hand in hand with another hot topic now: Internet of Things (IoT). All devices are connected and contain sensors of any kind. This real-time information will also be available real-time to Customer Support.

Our educational system would become redundant.

Taking it even further, our educational system would become redundant. How we develop ourselves will be based on whether we like the job/hobby we’re doing as well as talent. No need to have specific training or education, since all information is at hand (imagine having a YouTube tutorial in your head by just imagining it). This information can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

By merging the human brain with AI, we will be able to achieve great things. Within our lives as well as our business. It provides an opportunity to bring back human emotion in offices and factories, without giving up on the technological advancements we’ve made during the last 100 years.

Although this might bring a darker side with it as well (human emotion in combination with unlimited access to information), I wouldn’t talk about the moral or ethical side of Hybrid Intelligence. Let’s focus on and fantasise about the vast possibilities it could bring the world and worry about the rest later (perhaps another article).

The journey to humanise technology is ongoing, the quest to technologise humanity is still far away.

– Michiel Does

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