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What happens when AI passes the processing power of the Human Brain?




It is no secret that artificial intelligence has been developing and growing at the speed of light.


It’s a tech world buzzword that is trendy, describes the new frontier of technology meant to be stronger, faster, more agile, and more promising when it comes to successful results.

AI is everywhere — from corporate automation to smart assistants in people’s homes. Some versions of AI wake you with an alarm and play your favorite music while you cook breakfast; some take on more responsibilities at a corporate level, managing calendars or identifying risks of fraud.


AI is also not a recent buzzword. In 2016 Tractica, a market research firm, released a report that predicted that the annual global revenue for artificial intelligence products and services will grow from 643.7 million in 2016 to $36.8 billion by 2025 — a 57-fold increase over that time period. With such an impressive growth, AI will qualify as the fastest growing segment of any size in the IT sector.


With AI’s increasing pervasiveness, a natural question arises: will it ever surpass the human brain in its capabilities? And subsequently, will it ever replace humans in their jobs?

The truth is, there is no one way to answer this question. It’s a gray area overall, with the only certain thing being constant change. There are multiple directions in which the answers to these questions can go, so let’s explore a few of them in an effort to shed some light on the effects that AI can have on the future of humanity and how it compares to the capacity of the human brain, after which, ironically, it is modeled.


The reason AI became so popular in the recent years is due to its ability to learn — just like a human brain. Essentially, an AI machine is presented with data that it analyzes in order to identify patterns be able to recognize anomalies and make predictions for the future. This is where AI’s assistant nature comes from — imagine “showing” the AI brain how the task is done and have it execute a command when needed.


And no wonder companies turn to AI solutions to cut costs, improve inefficiencies, and optimize operations — that’s what AI does best, and at a higher speed than the human brain, at that.


When it comes to the question whether AI has surpassed the human brain in terms of processing power, the answer is most likely “depends.” Yes, AI certainly has the advantage of performing analysis, identifying areas of inefficiencies, and completing tasks at a higher speed than a human brain. Examples of tasks delegated to artificial intelligence solutions range across a multitude of industries from lead generation, calendar management, fraud detection, mapping sales journeys for customers, and much more.


But there is the flipside of the coin proving how AI, in fact, can empower humans and work with people symbiotically to achieve better outcomes together.


One of the most prominent examples of AI supporting human activities is in the world of management. A study by Accenture has shown that managers spend up to 54 percent of their time on administrative tasks when comparing their activity before and after implementing an AI solution. Once AI solutions are implemented, that percentage of inefficiency drops as low as only 25 percent. To put this into context, this means that managers have 29 percent more time to spend on more high-involvement and high-stakes work directly related to their job responsibilities. Delegating lower-involvement, routine and repetitive tasks to a machine proves to be a more affordable and empowering solution that boosts human activity, rather than overshadowing it.


Another example is how a tech giant, Airbnb, has invested in automation with a unique goal to empower its designers and product engineers. The company developed a unique AI system with the goal to make it easy for the company creators to simply transform their ideas sketched on idea boards intoreal-life products in no time. The investment’s purpose is to simplify the process of developing a product and streamline the prototype testing, optimizing the production routine and aligning and accelerating the final results.

At the end of the day, how AI will impact humanity is a complex question with a multitude of answers. Historically, technological advancements have indeed rendered jobs obsolete; automation replaces basic manual labor, and more recently, AI has the potential to take over more administrative and mundane tasks thanks to its ability to conduct rapid analysis and complete tasks quickly. The result of this is that AI can potentially surpass human abilities — but only when it comes to task completion efficiency and speed.


But there is another angle to this that gets lost in the context very often: the benefit that AI provides in empowering humans to engage in more meaningful, complex tasks requiring human judgement, talent and intuition. AI can empower designers to create more freely and design faster; marketing managers can focus on nurturing relationships with opportunities while AI sources initial leads; brand strategists can think of engaging and personalized experiences while AI makes it possible to realize these concepts; and financial analysts can focus on delivering high-quality service to customers while AI keeps track of risks and fraud alerts.


As years go by and technology gets more sophisticated — more intelligent — there will be constant worries about AI surpassing human intelligence. But it’s never a black-and-white answer to any questions that arise. It’s not humans against AI, or AI after human jobs.

It’s about regarding AI as a tool for empowerment, as a new frontier of technology that pushes humanity forward towards more meaningful, high-involvement and complex engagements.


Originally published in Medium