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augmented intelligence

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Augmented intelligence is an alternative conceptualization of artificial intelligence that focuses on AI's assistive role, emphasizing the fact that cognitive technology is designed to enhance human intelligence rather than replace it. The choice of the word augmented, which means "to improve," reinforces the role human intelligence plays when using machine learning and deep learning algorithms to discover relationships and solve problems.

Some industry experts believe that the term artificial intelligence is too closely linked to popular culture and science fiction, leading the general public to have unrealistic fears about AI and improbable expectations about how autonomous robots and other intelligent systems will change the workplace and life in general. Researchers and marketers hope the term augmented intelligence, which has a more neutral connotation, will help people understand that AI software will simply improve products and services, not replace the humans that use them.

An alternative label for artificial intelligence also reflects the current state of technology and research more accurately. While a sophisticated AI program is certainly capable of making a decision after analyzing patterns in large data sets, that decision is only as good as the data that human beings gave the programming to use.

IBM, which has invested heavily in artificial intelligence with the Watson cognitive system, has embraced the label augmented intelligence and has also suggested the term intelligence augmentation (IA), not only to emphasize the supportive role of the technology but also to avoid confusion caused by using AI as an abbreviation. Other alternative suggestions for replacing the label include machine-augmented intelligence and cognitive augmentation.

Sean Gourley's Ted Talk is entitled "Big Data and the Rise of Augmented Intelligence."

This was last updated in February 2019

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