Where Machines and People Excel but Why Hybrid Systems Win

Prince Boucher, 25 Mar 2018


The Great Debate

People have debated if machines will surpass humans at every type of task for centuries. Optimists, technologists, and science fiction writers point to the singularity or dystopia. Others argue technology changes the type of work humans spend attention on.

We’re betting that human and machine intelligence, when combined, is greater than the sum of its parts. We hire talented and empathetic people, and outfit them with state-of-the-art technology. Our knowledge graph remembers context for our users, so our agents can surface relevant information in seconds using a custom programming language.

Learning where hybrid intelligence systems are best at performing work is our first challenge. Then we try to understand when and how customers can offload tasks. Imagine a world where people can be more creative, technical, and playful.

Where Machines Excel

Every year, a trained machine defeats a top human in a specific skill or ability. We know that machines are better than humans at arithmetic, computation, and memory. Garry Kasparov can attest to this. After his defeat in 1996 by Deep Blue he said it was "a shattering experience". The same is true for Lee Sodol, defeated by AlphaGo in 2016, who said “I Failed”. It's clear that machines crush us at table games.

"But are we actually failures if we lose to machines at very things we built machines to do well? What if we're not failures at all -- because we never bothered to build a machine to do what a human is best at?"

Where People Thrive

Humans care. We create original ideas. We follow our intuition and take innovative risks. We do all this because we ask “why?” PwC’s “Workforce of The Future” report reported 39% of CEOs are hiring for soft skills. Problem-solving, adaptability, collaboration, leadership, creativity and innovation top the list. Emotional intelligence is a cornerstone of the human experience and humanity's last edge. Humans created machines, so we have a first mover advantage. To keep the lead, humans need to find more ways to create more value.

How Hybrid Systems Win

“I am wildly excited about offloading my routine tasks to machines so I can focus on things that are interesting.” - Daniela Rus

People and machines working together is the dream team. The Journal of Design and Science said, “Together, humans and AI can go from “checkmate”, to “teammate”. Elon Musk believes we’re doomed unless we find a way to merge with robots. In response, he’s creating a brain interface to link with AI. Machines can help people make better decisions. For example, robots can help research data and provide the best options to a doctor making a decision. Machines lack the ability to ask critical questions like “how?” or “why?”. People asking the right questions can help machines qualify the best solutions. Humans and machines each have their weaknesses. We have an opportunity to build strength through collaboration. Amber Case, cyborg anthropologist, believes We Are All Cyborgs Now.

Building The Future

Garry Kasparov never intended losing to a machine before he said, "Creating better humans will always be more important than creating smarter machines.” Let’s continue building tools for creatives, professionals, and entrepreneurs to embrace the future. Our mission is to help our users stay focused and do more.