I call the symbiosis of a man and a machine Centaur Intelligence, in which the head is always human: people do at what they excel — curiosity, creativity and compassion. And machines do their best too: learn at scale, crunch data and answer questions lightning fast. Machine answers require a human interpretation to turn correlations into causation. People curate data and select the right questions. Both parties augment each other, and the centaur is riding the wave of intelligence, human and artificial.
For instance, Stich Fix — a data-driven personal style service — employs advanced algorithms and 3,000 human designers. Designers apply their creativity, experience and simply being human to selecting for a customer top five pieces of clothing out of a list generated by algorithms.
Centaur Intelligence is in infancy. Babies can use sign language before they speak – sign language does not require a vocal apparatus. Babies understand more than we think. That’s where Centaur Intelligence is: no developed vocal apparatus yet, but it is capable of more than we think. Only people who know about teaching babies sign language are in the know.
We should remember that each machine is good at a particular aspect (for which it has data and algorithms). Humans are a universal machine that is good at many things at once. If Watson beat a champion in Jeopardy, it won’t be good at high jump, empathy and simply making dinner as a single machine.
I always thought that if the humankind used the resources equal to the overall technology spend on understanding itself, we would have been equally or more advanced without machines. Entering the Era of Data, I realize that technology is just a step on the people’s quest to understanding themselves. In this prediction season, I predict that our century will be the century of comprehending the human abilities.
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