Artificial intelligence is occupying an increasingly important role in our economy and culture. Many predict that it will surpass human intelligence, leading to exciting and terrible results. There’s no way to know what all these ramifications might be, but we do know one thing: Machines are not human and never will be. Placing the differences between the two provides a useful perspective.
The power of AI is rooted in taking massive amounts of data unintelligible to the human brain and turning it into information and, ultimately, knowledge that can be used for automated decision-making. Now that we understand that knowledge is the source of wealth — the raw materials for making smartphones and spacecraft were available to us long before we knew what to do with it — that’s a big deal.
So, without a doubt, AI (and the automation it enables) can be of great benefit to humanity as we use our strength to increase our weaknesses. But knowledge is as far as artificial intelligence can take us, and knowledge has its limits. The extent to which we embrace our roles as humans for machines will only make the world better automated. Wisdom – the ability to think about, distinguish, perceive, and understand complex situations – is vital to civilization, and wisdom is a uniquely human trait.
To cite an example, consider the decision to use stylus services or not. I recently saw one while working at a trade show and must admit it was fun to watch the mechanical arm methodically and melody a thank-you note in near-perfect handwriting. But it was a little scary to witness the production of what amounted to industrial sentiment. That made me consider “auto pen” to be somewhat of an anachronism.
I don’t think anyone who receives a thank you letter written by a robot will believe for a moment that a human actually made it. why? For one, it’s absolutely perfect. Using a solid line won’t fool anyone, and even if the engineers program in a “mistake” or pen slip, there will be something fake about it. Furthermore, the language in the note should remain fairly generic so that it applies to anyone who receives it. This, too, would subtly shine that it did not come from a human hand.
It’s true that someone at some point likely coined the words a robot had to write (although AI can now also do it in a primitive way), but that’s a far cry from an individual sitting at a desk and taking five or more 10 minutes crafting real, honest, and personal ideas in handwriting. The key point is the inefficiency of writing a note by hand; This is what makes them special (which is why Christmas card signatures stamped by the printing press have always been a similar problem). Having a machine doing the work suggests – really proclaims – that the recipient is not worth the time it takes to make something personal. They are transactional, not relational. It is better to risk not sending any note at all than the one produced by the machine.
An automated pen, like a printing press, can efficiently transmit information. But it cannot deftly adapt this information to navigate the dynamics of a complex relationship. It cannot just choose the correct wording or measure the accuracy with which something has to be said. It cannot convey the meaning of value that someone denotes after they have taken the time to write a thoughtful letter personally. Sure, this example is a lot less complex than other, more advanced AI applications, but the track record of much of what we’ve funneled to devices has revealed the same shortcomings, from phone trees to online help desks, chat bots to endless spam spoiling our inbox. . Shamelessly conveying the Power Branding principle, just because it can be automated doesn’t mean it has to be.
The Industrial Revolution that began in the 19th century gave way to the information revolution, as factory workers were increasingly replaced by knowledge workers. I find it interesting that the Encyclopedia of Management has a two-part definition of the term “knowledge factor”. It begins by defining them as “those who acquire, manipulate, interpret and apply information”. This is an increasingly automated task, and it’s a development we’re all seeing and welcome to some degree. But the definition says they do so “in order to perform multidisciplinary, complex and unexpected work” and “to apply expertise in a variety of areas to solve problems, generate ideas, or create new products and services.” These are uniquely human skills. Herein lies the real value.
In artificial intelligence circles, there is talk of the “singularity,” the moment when machines become smarter than humans, with each generation of machines able to create smarter machines and leaving human intelligence largely in the dust. But this is based on a narrow definition of intelligence, neglecting the role of emotion, nuance, judgment and, yes, wisdom. AI will increasingly get better at mimicking human characteristics—the term “mimicking them” might be more appropriate—but it will never be human. There is a reason it is called “artificial”.
A machine can create art, but it cannot be intimidated. The moment you automate the relationship, it stops being a relationship. Relationships are the substance of life.
McKee Wallwork + Co. is an Albuquerque based advertising agency. This column previously appeared in SmartBrief.com. The Executive Office is a guest column that provides advice, comment, or information about resources available to the New Mexico business community. To submit a column for consideration, email firstname.lastname@example.org.