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The Rise of AI: Will a Sci-Fi Future See Computers Outsmart Humans?

May 4, 2017

With the digital revolution well and truly in full force, we’re now approaching an age where computers are replacing a myriad of traditional methods. Technologies such as smart homes, voice recognition and drones are seeping into our lives, becoming our very own personal assistants. For the most part, these transformational technologies are helping to improve our day-to-day routines – from managing our social calendars to streamlining our communications. Indeed, there is a lot to thank technology for these days.

At the same time, however, there is a kind of dystopian fear that computers will cast humans aside altogether to replace traditional skills. For instance, what happens when robotic production lines substitute manual manufacturing jobs? Or self-driving cars enter the mix (*ahem* Tesla)? There’s an irrefutable truth to the fact that machines can perform a number of tasks much more effectively and efficiently than humans, and as a result, certain markets and workforces are experiencing a major shake-up.

But do machines have the power to totally take over?

AI trumps humans when it comes to particular skills

There are areas where computers are much more reliable than humans – in particular, the management of data. Computers and other technological devices are very good at gathering, analysing and interpreting data, then spitting out the results extremely quickly. Where human beings can be limited in their skills and biased in their outcomes, we can trust that automated processes will provide us with accurate and transparent information.

Furthermore, employing a computer to do a job is a lot more cost-effective than hiring a trained human. As such, innovations like AI, machine learning and task automation are certainly an alluring prospect for many companies.

So, what does this mean for traditional jobs steeped in data management processes? Will financial advisors face the risk of being replaced by computers? What about medical professionals?

AI will never harness the same emotional intelligence as that of humans

Though accuracy and efficiency are important, we cannot disregard the importance of emotional intelligence. A financial advisor’s role is more than just processing numbers and offering solutions; it is to understand a client’s position and draw on one’s own experience and insight to offer sage advice. Similarly, while doctors and nurses effectively absorb information, diagnose a problem and provide an action plan, human connection remains a vital element of this profession. Numerous factors beyond physical symptoms come into play when determining optimal treatment for a patient – factors that require one to sit down and engage in human interaction.

Humans are capable of leadership, empathy, social understanding, motivation and persuasion. They know how to navigate the nuances of life beyond just the nuts and bolts. Machines, on the other hand, have trouble replicating these skills. Their core job is to simply crunch numbers and generate results.

Automation is here to help, not replace

It’s important to keep in mind that the progress of technology should not be fought, but rather embraced and integrated into our lives for the better. Machine learning and AI have already demonstrated how they can improve outcomes and lower costs in many industries. While these technologies increasingly find new ways to cut out stressful or time-consuming procedures, the one major advantage that will always prevail in humans is our ability to connect with other people. Simply put, this is something that cannot be replaced.