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Everything you need to know about augmented intelligence

Posted January 18, 2022
An illustration of a human and an artificial intelligence chatbot sitting together on top of a brain working on a computer towards a common goal. The partnership demonstrates the concept of augmented intelligence.

Artificial intelligence (AI) underpins so many of our daily interactions with technology. It’s the backbone of web search and many smartphone applications. It enables speech recognition and powers smart home equipment. It even recommends your next favorite show or song.

When we interact with these technologies, we’re partnering with AI. That partnership is the centralized idea in the emergence of augmented intelligence. Like AI, augmented intelligence acknowledges the important role of machine learning and algorithms in how we use technology, but it reframes AI’s role as collaborative rather than prescriptive.

What is augmented intelligence?

Augmented intelligence — sometimes referred to as intelligence amplification, cognitive augmentation or machine augmented intelligence — is the idea of using AI to empower human decision-making and improve performance. In short, it’s not about replacing human actions, but rather, enhancing them.

For example, analyzing large amounts of data can be time-consuming for a human, and human error and bias can lead to incomplete datasets, misinterpretation and overlooking important patterns. But the solution isn’t to remove the human element completely.

Through the lens of augmented intelligence, AI is instead used to improve the way a human analyzes data without replacing the human component. Essentially, it’s a tool humans can use to work smarter and more efficiently. In the customer experience (CX) arena, augmented intelligence has the ability to revolutionize CX by enabling representatives to take a more data-driven approach to managing customer queries and creating personalized experiences.

Augmented intelligence vs. artificial intelligence

Science fiction has a habit of portraying AI as a fully autonomous form of intelligence. The reality is, most AI is designed to carry out specific functions, but it cannot think in the same way that humans do.

Augmented intelligence emphasizes the collaborative possibilities of AI by preserving the human role. For instance, virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa use AI to recognize voices and deliver data when you ask for it, but they don’t deliver data unprompted or make decisions for you. Rather, you utilize these virtual assistants to make your life easier, or to complete tasks more efficiently.

Essentially, the main difference is that AI is designed to operate with or without the presence of humans, while augmented intelligence refers to people using AI tools in a collaborative way.

As AI-empowered technology plays a deeper role in our everyday lives, it’s important for organizations to understand how augmented intelligence fits within the way they use technology and how their human teams interact with their digital coworkers.

chatbots displayed across different channels including mobile and desktop

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Augmented intelligence use cases

It is obvious that many organizations across the globe have already realized the potential benefits of integrating AI and augmented intelligence into their operations. According to Gartner, decision support and augmentation will surpass all other types of AI initiatives to account for 44% of the global AI-derived business value by 2030.

Customer experience is one of the areas that stands to benefit the most from augmented intelligence, with AI helping improve human interactions with customers while reducing mistakes and allowing personalization at scale.

Examples of how a symbiotic relationship between human and machine can be beneficial are found in varying industries.

  • eCommerce: AI-powered self-service options like chatbots help streamline the online shopping experience for customers, providing quick answers to questions and handling simple customer service requests. But the role of human agents can’t be overlooked — a study by TELUS International found that the majority (88%) of Americans say it’s important to be able to speak with a live agent at any point during a self-service interaction. A live agent can use AI and machine learning applications to determine how to respond to a customer based on their history and behavior, and augment their current CX protocol with real-time data to make the experience positive and personalized to that customer.
  • Healthcare: Every day, healthcare workers are called on to make decisions about patients based on the data they have. AI can help process patient data quickly, helping to improve decision-making. For example, an experiment at Harvard Medical School showed an algorithm could detect breast cancer 92% of the time, while a human pathologist accurately detected it 96% of the time. When the two worked together, accuracy rose to 99%, showing the benefits of augmented intelligence.
  • Fintech and financial services: AI has had a transformative effect on the financial services sphere, leading to an industry of fintech companies using AI-powered products and applications like robo-advising to improve the customer experience, automate processes and reduce fraud. In an industry that requires significant compliance and risk management, augmented intelligence is empowering teams to deliver faster authentication and better security to the customer experience.
  • Travel and hospitality: Augmented intelligence has wide-reaching applications for the travel and hospitality sector. Travel booking brands like Capital One Travel and Hopper use AI to analyze flight prices, make predictions about deals and provide hyper-personalized recommendations. AI-powered chatbots and concierges are also streamlining the guest experience in hotels and restaurants. As AI progresses, opportunities for it will grow within the travel and hospitality sector, using real-time data to make better decisions that will delight customers and guests.

There’s no question AI is already playing a significant role in our lives. Augmented intelligence recognizes its role as a tool, not a takeover, and is the blueprint for a future where humans work side by side in partnership with their AI-powered digital coworkers.

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