There is stream of thinkers telling us robots will soon supersede humans. I don’t know if they are wrong, but I know humans have some features that robots will never have and there are some processes that naturally will keep people alive and kicking.
First of all, humans do mistakes and don’t follow the rules. This is at the base of evolution. Sometimes not following the rules is the best course of action, under certain circumstances. Similarly to error, there are other “mind short circuits”, like intuition which is an element of creativity, innovation and learning. A robot will never discover the gravity because an apple drops on his head, a robot will never score a goal with an hand in a Worldcup match and for sure will never give any credit to Walt Disney after MGM declared that “a mouse on the screen will never be a success because it’s scary for women”… Some can argue, that without failures, life improvements will come faster, but maybe life’s a journey, not a destination.
Humans generalize, understand and feel. Humans are pattern-recognition machines, have experiences and based on their feelings they move to actionable steps. Sounds logic for us, but not for a machine. First of all the machine has to find the pattern stored somewhere, if no pattern is stored or found, the following steps do not even begin. When data are found, computers cannot confirm that the data are correct; while humans can generalize from previous experiences and understand if something is of any harm or benefit, computers can’t. If that mechanism alone was employed in human minds, then the memories of dreams or movies would be considered reality. It’s a long way before a machine can put an event into the general context and action a behavior based on it.
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The communication is two ways: the sender can be a robot but the receiver is still a human. Even if a robot or an hologram will be able to perfectly mimic and replicate human behavior, the human will be anyway more comfortable to deal with a person rather than with a robot. If I’m sitting at the pub and a robot serves me a great hamburger and smiles at me comfortably, I will always think that it is due to an algorithm or a pre-set rule; if the same happens with a real person, I would think it comes from the heart. AI can work in the background as a tool, but every piece of business based upon people meeting and taking decisions together will never be entirely replaced by a machine.
A trend in business practices usually generates a stream based on exactly the opposite. When fast foods begun to spread around the world, an emergent movement of “slow food” gained huge success. After luxury watches ruled the markets for ages, Swatch disrupted the world with a low cost strategy. Up to ten years ago, electronic equipment was sold into specialized multi-brand mega stores with almost absent personnel and support, then Apple opened stores with dedicated passionate personnel and peculiar layout (which are now a recognized standard). There could be a lot of examples, but the point is that there will be businesses that want to differentiate from competitors which adopt AI, thanks to the human factor that can be more emphatic.
In conclusion, when I hear that automation, robots and AI will cancel jobs and replace people, I think that the most probable scenario is that the two technologies (the artificial one and the natural brain) will simply cooperate, especially as long as we set the rules. Stay tuned for the next post about machine – human cooperation, where I’m trying to explore where this will lead us. In the meantime I invite you to read a serious article with a lot of examples of questions made by a person and replied by a person and a by a machine, just to look at the differences… it’s here.
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