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Hands up who’s heard of Artificial intelligence (AI)?

If you search for the term on Google, the first page of results may include headlines affixed with words like: terrifying, apocalypse, dangers, along with next frontier, promise, and…dangers, again. The takeaway here is that AI seems to carry a negative spin. Of course, if you’ve heard of AI—it’s the sexiest thing to happen to computing since the internet itself.

Artificial intelligence is regularly in the news. It’s one of the more exciting recent technology advancements because it sounds futuristic and slightly scary. What gets less publicity is the other acronym that also contains an ‘A’ and an ‘I’: Intelligent Augmentation (IA). It’s less reported on but may be more important to us in the medium-to long-term. In our post, we’ll look at what the difference is between these two similar concepts and how they could positively affect your business.

Here’s a quick (and very basic) look at what both are:

  • AI is focused on creating autonomous systems to replace human cognitive functions
  • IA uses technology to complement and support human cognitive functions

The headliner and the behind-the-scenes worker

While AI seems to be constantly in the headlines, IA is slowly—behind the scenes—revolutionizing how knowledge workers deal with one of the key problems of the 21st Century workplace: information overload.

AI in the workplace is essentially IT mimicking cognitive functions like learning and problem solving. AI can work wonders for tasks such as onboarding or low-level admin functions like booking meeting rooms or organizing a calendar. AI can also be extremely beneficial when it comes to analyzing big data to improve and accelerate business decisions—depending on the level of investment businesses make in their computing and processing power. Much of the focus surrounding AI is the goal of using it to create autonomous systems to replace human cognitive functions.

Intelligent Augmentation (IA), on the other hand, uses technology to complement and support human cognitive functions. While all the noise and attention has been on AI for several years, intelligence augmentation has been quietly going about its job—which is to make our jobs easier.

The competition of artificial intelligence to the collaboration of intelligence augmentation

Intelligence augmentation uses machine-learning technologies that are similar to AI but instead of replacing humans, IA seeks to assist them. So rather than relying solely on machines for business processes, IA machine-learning works in combination with the human brain, each empowering the other. This makes for a very compelling combination.

Intelligence augmentation is a cognitive computing approach that includes a comprehensive set of capabilities like machine learning, reasoning, and decision-based technologies. Like AI, the purpose of IA is to make the workplace more productive and efficient. But while AI seeks to do this by bypassing the human element, IA works in partnership to aid us in our problem solving and new discoveries.

For a simple example, take a machine-learning algorithm that can process a large amount of patient data—looking through patient history, family history, records, previous tests, images and data from wearables, etc.—to predict an illness. But it would only present this information in a way to aid the doctor who would use her reason to reach a prognosis. The human element (i.e. the doctor) is still very much involved, meaning it’s IA rather than AI. If the program that sorted through the same data and reached a prognosis itself, taking the doctor out of the equation (WebMD being the biggest example, which has its flaws), that would be AI.

Intelligence Augmentation in the office

Think about the amount of time you spend organizing your emails. In findings from our recent survey, workers look at their email inbox five times per hour or more! Another study reports that email management can take up to 28% of you and your employees’ time. That’s close to a third of the week just looking after correspondence and messages. What other tasks of higher value could you be working on instead?

While AI is never going to replace the knowledge worker entirely, IA can make something like email management much easier, less time-consuming and leave you and your employees with more time on your hands to focus on more valuable work. Imagine receiving an email and, when you open it, every other piece of important information connected to the content is lined up waiting for you in the same screen—you don’t even have to switch apps. Collage leverages the power of IA to boost productivity in your office. Our tool uses IA and machine learning to help you overcome everyday tasks more efficiently so you can focus on the most important work at hand. Collage uses natural language processing to scan email subject lines and their content, and tags them intelligently based on topic and in correct context.

It means your team doesn’t have to worry about missing important information in the never-ending stream of content and information that we face daily. Everything is organized and neatly displayed so you don’t have to waste time chasing information. It’s brought right to you. And if that isn’t intelligence augmentation, we don’t know what is!

To find out more about how is creating waves with intelligence augmentation and putting an end to information chaos, visit us here. And if you’d like to see first-hand how Collage can work with your current tools, download your free trial today.


David Lavenda
Chief Product Officer