Investing in Technology: AI vs IA
This “feud” ain’t new.
Artificial Intelligence and Intelligence Augmentation have been “battling” each other for a few decades now. We just didn’t know much about it. And why would we? These terminologies are to this day very foggy and unclear for the average non-techy individual.
Most of us have actually never really heard about intelligence augmentation. The only reason this debate is even a debate is because of the rise and prominence of artificial intelligence. When we say rise and prominence we don’t necessarily mean development but mostly refer to the popularity of the term.
Certain tech milestones and industry events helped artificial intelligence’s rise to notoriety whilst intelligence augmentation stayed in its shadow. A recent example of such an occurrence is Google’s self-driving car. The car is essentially driving itself without any human assistance or interaction. The examples of how AI reached mainstream stardom don’t stop there.
Chess World Champion Garry Kasparov took on IBM’s super-smart computer “Deep Blue”, in a chess match for the ages. Deep Blue’s eventual win over Kasparov just poured more fuel into the growing mythology surrounding AI. It created the notion and idea of a future where machines could outsmart the most intelligent people on earth.
The examples of AI’s flashy appearances in the last ten years are countless. The most recent one saw Google’s AlphaGo defeating Go champion Lee Sedol in 2016. Social media has obviously strengthened AI’s claim for fame. Nowadays, news travels faster than ever and feats like this one become viral in no time.
Having established the reasons for AI’s popularity, it is time to actually differentiate the meaning between the two concepts. Once we understand their differences, it will become much clearer which is a more viable investing option in the technology sector.
Artificial Intelligence vs Intelligence Augmentation: What’s the Difference?
This is the part where we shed some light behind the fancy names. Now, we will actually explore the minutia and drill down to the specifics of these two tech sector juggernauts.
AI refers to an autonomous, self-governing system that can be taught to emulate and replicate human cognitive functions. In its plainest terms, the machine is able to operate on autopilot without any assistance or need for human intervention.
On the contrary, IA has more of a supplementary role. It actually uses AI to assist and enhance human intelligence rather than replace it. Its main use is to propel people to perform tasks faster, smarter and more efficiently.
As you can see, the two terms overlap and their differences are not so much technical but rather philosophical. AI and IA diverge in ideology and perspective, in the way they see and serve the world.
An Investment Breakdown
Now that we have the definitions and background nailed, let’s start looking at AI and IA as investment options. Which one is going to flourish going forward? Tech stocks have been the hottest product in the market for quite some time for a good reason. Companies like Apple, Amazon and other business conglomerates have adopted the idea of “invest in tech”, seeing their share price increase.
Spotting this technology driven trend is the easy part, determining which path to follow is where the challenge lays.
The Case For Artificial Intelligence
AI’s hype has been around for quite some time. A lot of industry experts believe that it’s no longer the future of tech, but the present.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), worldwide spending on artificial intelligence systems will grow to nearly $35.8 billion in 2019. In some way, shape or form, the backbone of any technology company will be linked to AI. From software, hardware and memory, to semiconductors and big data, everything seems to be tied to AI.
According to a recent report by PwC, investment in AI products will have a huge effect on GDP by 2030. Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri and autonomous automobiles are set to boost GDP for local economies of up to 14%.
One of the biggest strengths of artificial intelligence is its unique ability to seamlessly infiltrate and affect a variety of industries no matter the business models. According to PwC, AI implementations across various sectors are projected to yield 15.7 trillion dollars over the span of ten years.
Tech companies are no longer the sole users of AI as everyone seems to adopt the technology for the betterment of their products. From cloud computing and the automotive industry to streaming services and digital assistants, AI is affecting every single walk of life.
The most notable industry to keep an eye on is healthcare.
The U.S. spends about 18% of its GDP on healthcare. That makes you realise the market size and investment opportunity. AI has changed the healthcare landscape by freeing the hands of professionals. Paperwork, prescriptions, automated medicine orders and appointment bookings are just some of the areas directly affected by developments in AI.
Freeing the hands of healthcare professionals might raise a very reasonable concern: AI will be taking jobs from people. That’s true but not a reason to keep you up at night. Data from global research and advisory firm Gartner show that by 2020, AI will create more jobs than it eliminates.
The Case Against Artificial Intelligence
You knew this was coming so here it is: AI is one of the most promising avenues for long term investors BUT…
It would seem irresponsible to not give you the other side of the story. AI comes with a whole load of buts, despite its many positives. Look no further than Tesla CEO and overall bonafide genius Elon Musk. His recent appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast laid out some valid concerns about the direction and policing of AI.
“The thing that’s going to be tricky here is that it’s going to be very tempting to use A.I. as a weapon,“ Musk said. “The danger is going to be humans using it against each other.”
When claims like that are made, one should always wonder about the aftermath and what follows. If the brightest minds in the industry feel that AI should be heavily regulated, maybe it would be wise to consider it before investing in tech firms that are developing it.
The Case For Intelligence Augmentation
Whilst it enjoys a lot less attention and spotlight than AI, IA is not just the underdog that’s lurking in the shadows. From an investment standpoint, many believe that IA enjoys several competitive advantages over AI.
The “human” nature of IA makes its impact more direct and poses a lower resistance path to commercial and societal acceptance. As mentioned before, IA is essentially pushing people to improve their cognitive performance. The human-machine symbiosis is thought by many as a much stronger combo than the almighty AI.
Whilst IA does not offer the glitz and glamour of AI by promising to revolutionize the world we live in with self-driving cars and digital assistants, it does offer a framework for small and steady improvements in all areas of business. IA technologies, can help increase overall productivity by optimizing costs, making the workforce more efficient and help small businesses offer new products to their customers.
IA’s abilities are less sexy on paper than AI but equally if not more effective. Intelligence Augmentation can transform businesses and move the needle by offering data analysis and insights that are both meaningful and progressive.
A practical example of how this would work is lead generation. IA synergies can identify prospective clients and offer them the most suitable product. After that, they can determine whether to up-sell, down-sell or approach them using a new strategy.
The Case Against Intelligence Augmentation
The case against IA is its simplistic nature.
Intelligence augmentation simply helps people do their job faster. You can’t really see it in standalone products. You can’t really see it in shiny little gadgets. Its impact is hidden in the process and operations of a company.
That does not mean that it is any less appealing as an investment option.