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What Artificial Intelligence Can't Supplement

With #WEB30 now in our rear-view mirror, I’ve been thinking much about the technological advancements I’ve witnessed in the last two decades. For the trailing five years in particular, I’ve been fascinated with the impact AI has had on our society. While today, AI has been highly influenced by FANG, it’s pervasive and getting rather eerie.

When it comes to AI, whether it’s Netflix’s “recommendations”, Amazon’s “other customers purchased”, the first few letters of a Google search, or self-driving cars; it is probably the most chameleonesque technology our generation has seen outside of the trojan. Doing research with a client recently, I was alarmed to discover that error rates for image labeling, once measured at ~30% in 2010, have dropped to an error accuracy rate less than 2.5% in 2018.

While impressive, I think we can all agree however that when AI gets it wrong, it’s really wrong. We’ve all had an interaction with a chatbot that is borderline comical, we’ve even gawked at a suggestion from an Amazon flash deal, right? We laugh it off and go about our day with little consideration about what’s behind the curtain.

However, in the world of guiding customers through a vast universe of technology who are seeking a transformational outcome, there is one thing that AI will never replace. Sure, search engines have long supplemented the technical prowess of the human race, offering both veracity and velocity. Security automation can identify threats and intervene while organizations are sleeping, a daily occurrence in my customer base. But please folks, and as a society, let’s not underestimate the value of EI.

In my world there is no tolerance for offering solutions to our customers that are completely misaligned. We still need to dig deep to understand root cause, clarify the problem statement, gain consensus, and even if unpopular, put forth with clarity and simplicity the remedy. This takes emotional understanding, not just deep machine learning.

Is AI having an unprecedented impact on society? Absolutely. Should we be considering regulation to provide eventual oversight? Certainly. But until Elon completes the interface between the machine and the cortex / limbic system, please invest in your own emotional intelligence, and those of whom you lead.

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