Jessica Powers | Mar 07, 2023

Augmented intelligence refers to the assistive role artificial intelligence can play in improving human decision making, which is different from the popular conception of AI in which computers replace humans. A subset of artificial intelligence, augmented intelligence seeks to center the ways humans and machines can work together, not remove the human element from certain work.


What Is Augmented Intelligence?

Augmented intelligence is designed to work with humans to enhance their capabilities, rather than remove humans from the picture. It relies on machine learning and deep learning to crunch through reams of data, which humans then use to make decisions and take action.

What Is Augmented Intelligence?

Augmented intelligence is a subset of artificial intelligence in which AI technologies assist humans rather than replace them. It’s typically done using machine learning to analyze data and help humans make smarter decisions.

Humans can use augmented intelligence to enhance their capabilities and tools. This is especially true for industries that employ data science and analytics. 

In retail, for instance, augmented intelligence can suggest the optimal store layout and product placement to merchandisers based on shopper data, such as foot traffic patterns. And the medical field is also benefiting from augmented intelligence, with surgeons and healthcare providers receiving recommendations on patient treatments based on a mountain of medical data, research and the patient’s own medical record history.

“Artificial intelligence is one of many, many different technologies, and augmented intelligence is a manifestation or outcome of how you choose to implement those AI technologies,” Frances Karamouzis, a VP analyst at research firm Gartner, told Built In.

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Augmented Intelligence vs. Artificial Intelligence: What’s the Difference?

The goal of AI is to show intelligent behavior that mimics the human mind and can ultimately automate processes and make decisions without any human intervention. (This goal, however, has yet to be reached.)

Augmented Intelligence vs. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence seeks to automate processes by delving deep into data to yield answers and operate autonomously. Augmented intelligence uses AI technologies but in a fashion where humans are kept in the loop and play a key role in making decisions.

Augmented intelligence is designed to show intelligent behavior too, but its differentiator is working with humans to improve the task to be done or decision to be made, said Heni Ben Amor, associate professor at Arizona State University’s School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence.

Social intelligence, as it pertains to technology, is a feature of augmented intelligence that allows for the understanding of both the task and actions that the human is seeking to do before they do it, Subbarao Kambhampati, professor at the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence at Arizona State University, said.

AI systems don’t need to have much social intelligence because they are designed to work autonomously. But with augmented intelligence, social intelligence is required because it needs to give humans explanations about what it’s doing and allow people to advise it about what it should be doing in a way similar to how humans interact with one another, Kambhampati explained.


How Augmented Intelligence Works

Augmented intelligence uses AI and machine learning to gather structured and unstructured data from multiple sources, which it then analyzes and interprets. 

When teamed with humans, augmented intelligence systems have the benefit “of a bigger picture on common sense,” which AI systems tend to lack due to their deep and narrow view of data and information, Kambhampatihe said. For example, two supercomputers programmed to play chess may attempt to finish the game despite a fire in their office, whereas a supercomputer playing chess against a human would be instructed by the human to turn itself off. 

“If I want a future where we are essentially replaced, then this is the future we are inventing with AI systems,” Kambhampati added. “But if I want a future where humans have a productive role to play, then augmented intelligence will become more and more increasingly important.”

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How Augmented Intelligence Is Used 

Self-Driving Cars Navigating Safely 

Self-driving cars” might sound like no human oversight is needed, but that isn’t always the case. In fact, Tesla vehicles use augmented intelligence. Although its autopilot software is being developed so that cars can largely navigate roads autonomously, there are times when they require human intervention in certain emergencies, like cars suddenly pulling into the driver’s lane or slamming on the brakes on short notice.


Helping Retailers Identify Store Bottlenecks

Retail is one industry that has a lot to gain from augmented intelligence. The technology can be used to analyze customer and storefront data to improve operations both online and in-person.

Data visualization company RadiusAI uses augmented intelligence to suggest to retailers where bottlenecks are occurring in their stores that could impede sales or where product placements may get noticed more. But it’s up to humans to then make those changes and optimize retail operations based on suggestions from the augmented intelligence system.


Suggesting Diagnoses and Treatments 

AI and healthcare have proven to be an ideal match and augmented intelligence in the healthcare industry is no different. With augmented intelligence, medical professionals can comb through patient data quickly and receive actionable insights and recommendations from the system. 

One example of this is VisualDx’s use of augmented intelligence, which culls through its expansive curated medical image library. With this technology, dermatologists receive recommendations about the types of skin diseases and skin problems that may be affecting their patients. 


Analyzing Blood Tests to Detect Cancer 

Augmented intelligence can be used for more than just sifting through records and images in the medical field. When the technology is applied to blood test data sets, it might even be able to detect cancer. Biotech company Freenome uses biological analysis of data sets to cull through blood tests looking for early warning signs of cancer with its augmented intelligence technology. With the enhanced blood test results, physicians are armed with additional information to treat patients.

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