This is the idea of coupling, a tight partnership, between the human and the AI that together create a powerful solution. But this isn’t like a typical digital tool, if the tax preparer treats this like a calculator rather than a partner then the result is sub-optimal and improvements wouldn’t be as great. H&R Block reports that their tax preparers love the product, the customers love the product, and already loyalty and customer satisfaction scores have been showing a significant increase.
Collaborative learning and care
This is the part of the solution that really needs to be fleshed out more. Systems like Watson and Einstein need to be trained and those that use these systems have the practical knowledge to help do that. But these systems can in turn train their partners helping them become more efficient and even more satisfied with their jobs.
There is clearly an effort to have humans help train the AIs, but I’m not yet seeing much effort in returning the favor to the humans. We have massive growing problems with the care and effective development of people as well. AI’s have massive knowledge on how to help recognize these problems and advise the employee how to deal with them.
This is where I think we need to make a breakthrough so that the human isn’t just making the AI a better part of the partnership by advancing its knowledge, but where the AI makes the human a more productive member of the team by dealing with his or her shortcomings as well. Then we get the kind of synergy an augmentation model anticipates and have the potential to reach the full potential of this new class of team.
Two roads to AI in the workplace
Currently, there are two potential paths connected to the advancement of AI in the workplace. One is what IBM, Salesforce and H&R Block are working for and it is focused on augmenting and improving the human. The other is replacement and in many ways, it is far easier because it doesn’t try to create a successful system combining human and AI elements. However, replacement has a nasty side effect of massive unemployment and customer loss.
We want the first path of augmentation to be successful if we don’t want to live in a dystopian future. In order to get there systems have to be trusted and worthy of that trust, AIs and people have to be more like partners, and, as partners, both AIs and humans have to have a focus on making their partner better. This last will likely be the hardest but, I think, will also make the difference between whether people and AIs co-exist or a future where far more humans than states can manage are surplus.
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