I’m a Kate Bush fan. In her song ‘Strange Phenomena’ she writes: “you bump into a friend you haven’t seen for a long time, then into another you only thought about last night’. This perfectly encapsulates the limits of Ai.
The best thing about it is the ‘i’ bit. Properly designed, nuanced and deployed an Ai solution will fit right in, churning through data, pattern-matching and triggering ‘next best actions’. The trouble with Ai is simply that, it’s artificial.
Back to Kate Bush and song writing, last year in London a musical was staged where all the music and lyrics had been created by Ai. The challenge with this was, well, it wasn’t intelligent. It is very easy to churn through lyrics and create a decent song – it’s a completely different challenge to create a story arc that resonates with an audience – all the songs had to be re-written, by songwriters!
Now that we are in the age of operationalising Ai, is it too much of a stretch to rename it? If we consider the A to stand for ‘Augmented’ and the ‘i’ to denote that highly valuable, sometimes indispensable and often serendipitous human ‘intelligence’, I think we have a ‘match’!
Augmented Intelligence makes perfect sense. No matter how fast or limitless it becomes, it won’t ever come up with a lyric like Kate’s – nor will it be expected to. Instead it will amplify and augment the intelligence of people as they attend to the travails in life – work, play, aspiration and well-being.
A good example is how Autonomy launched a ‘killer app’ for it’s core proposition back 17 years ago. This was Kenjin (knowledge engine) that examined all the sales documentation that your organisation had on file in real time as you typed your next proposal and proffered previous documents where you had written the same or related material in the past. This application of ‘intelligent knowledge management’ found a new use in 2004 with the launch of Pradex360 for journalists. As the hack attacks the keys to communicate their latest story, Pradex360 would scour documents and live feeds to ensure the journalist wasn’t simply re-hashing material that was already out there.
Bringing it back into our industry, the need for Ai (Augmented Intelligence) is going to be unprecedented:
- It will help manage volume from customer contact across multiple messenger apps. Like a super-IVR it will only engage the real intelligence of an adviser when it has exhausted its options.
- At the same time it will ‘observe’ the resolution of the adviser and emulate this next time (with sign-off) to further extend its capabilities.
- It will educate and inform the path the adviser role of today needs to take to become the knowledge worker of tomorrow.
- It will increase productivity and become increasingly effective at helping advisers anticipate issues in real time.
So let’s take back ownership of what Ai really means to us – Augmented (computers) Intelligence (humans) and put it to work for all the myriad of ‘chore-some’ tasks that hold us hostage to the maxims and models of the 270 year-old industrial revolution.
Kate Bush will no doubt continue to write lyrics that define the human condition. We should mirror this in how we all work to define the role of the human in 21st Century working life and beyond.