This past Spring, AlphaGo — an artificial intelligence (AI) machine — beat the human world champion in a five-game match of Go, an ancient Chinese board game once considered so difficult that a computer could never master it. Since then an improved version of the game, called Master, has been slaying some of the game’s top players with a streak of 60 wins.
Last year, ride-sharing company Uber debuted a pilot programme involving self-driving cars. Elsewhere in the world, factories have become automated, churning out products using robotic workers designed with AI. With the buzz generated by these headlines, you might think AI machines are poised to take over just about any job a human can do. That idea might not sit well with you, for lots of reasons. But here’s an alternative: what if machine learning programmes were designed to help us rather than replace us?
AI generally refers to efforts to replace people with machines. But AI has a counterpart, known as intelligence augmentation, or IA, that instead aims to use similar machine learning technologies to assist — rather than replace — humans. IA may now be at a tipping point to take over from AI when it comes to progress and headlines.