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Everything you need to know about augmented intelligence

Posted January 18, 2022 - Updated August 31, 2023
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.

How does augmented intelligence work?

Augmented intelligence uses advanced machine learning algorithms, including deep learning and natural language processing, to analyze diverse datasets. The AI-generated insights, predictions and recommendations are presented to human users, who combine their expertise with the AI's output to make informed decisions.

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.

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The benefits of augmented intelligence

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. Many organizations across the globe have already realized the potential benefits of integrating augmented intelligence into their operations. These benefits include:

  • Enhanced decision-making: By analyzing large volumes of data quickly, AI helps humans make strategic choices based on accurate information.
  • Efficiency and productivity: AI can automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, freeing up human professionals to focus on higher-level activities that require creativity, critical thinking and strategic planning.
  • Personalization at scale: By analyzing data, AI can deliver tailored recommendations and solutions, enhancing customer satisfaction and engagement.
  • Data analysis and pattern recognition: AI excels at analyzing vast amounts of data to identify patterns, trends and anomalies that might go unnoticed by human experts.
  • Reduced human error: By assisting humans in data analysis and decision-making, AI helps minimize human errors and biases.
  • Innovation and creativity: AI can augment human creativity by generating novel ideas, designs and concepts that human experts might not have considered.
  • Real-time insights: With AI's ability to process data in real time, organizations gain immediate insights into changing trends, customer preferences and market dynamics, enabling them to respond swiftly to opportunities and challenges.

Augmented intelligence use cases

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

  • Ecommerce: The importance of augmented intelligence becomes evident through AI-powered self-service options like chatbots. These tools help streamline the online shopping experience for customers by 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.

Augmented intelligence best practices

Implementing augmented intelligence effectively involves following certain best practices to ensure a seamless integration of human expertise and AI capabilities. These include but are not limited to:

  • Identify appropriate use cases: Brands can begin by identifying areas where the collaboration between human intelligence and AI can bring the most value. Focus on tasks that require data analysis, pattern recognition and decision-making where both human insight and machine efficiency are beneficial. Begin with pilot projects to assess the effectiveness of augmented intelligence in your specific context and expand to other functions where appropriate.
  • Clearly communicate with your employees: Introducing augmented intelligence may require a cultural shift within your organization. Implement change management strategies to ensure that teams are comfortable with the new approach, roles of humans and AI are clearly defined and everyone understands where the technology can assist and also what limitations exist.
  • Use high-quality data: For AI to be effective, the data used for training and decision-making needs to be accurate, relevant and up-to-date to prevent biases and errors.
  • Keep ethical considerations top of mind: Establish guidelines and ethical principles for AI usage and address potential biases and privacy concerns that arise when integrating AI into decision-making processes.
  • Keep your AI models up-to-date: Implement mechanisms for ongoing learning and adaptation to changing conditions.
  • Measure success: Define clear metrics to measure the success of your augmented intelligence initiatives and make adjustments and improvements where required.
  • Engage an experienced partner: Partnering with a digital CX expert like TELUS International that possesses deep knowledge on how augmented intelligence works can greatly benefit your brand. Their insights and experience are invaluable for refining AI models, interpreting results and making improvements.

The future of augmented intelligence

Augmented intelligence will continue to evolve with the increasing popularity of generative AI (GenAI) —a subset of artificial intelligence that focuses on creating content, such as text, images and videos. Generative AI utilizes techniques like neural networks and deep learning to mimic human creativity. For instance, GenAI can be used to automate the production of reports, designs or personalized recommendations, allowing human experts to focus on refining and adapting the generated content to align with their goals.

With its capacity to analyze vast amounts of data and automate content creation and communication, generative AI is poised to revolutionize customer interactions. It will enable businesses to craft highly personalized customer experiences on a scale previously unattainable and further empower human professionals to devote more time to higher-level tasks that require nuanced decision-making and creative thinking.

As GenAI’s influence redefines the landscape of augmented intelligence, we’re moving toward a realm where human ingenuity and machine capabilities work harmoniously to drive progress and innovation. However, it should still be viewed as a tool, rather than a replacement. The future of augmented intelligence is the brightest when considered a blueprint for humans working in partnership with their AI-powered digital coworkers.

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