Artificial intelligence as a complement to humans
People often misunderstand the role of AI in the workplace and talk about machines replacing humans. In the following, I will show why they should rather be seen as supplements.
That human workers will be replaced by artificial intelligence presupposes that humans and AI have the same characteristics and capabilities. In reality, this is far from the case. Faster, more accurate and consistently rational - that's how AI-based machines can be described. What they lack, however, is intuition, emotion, and cultural sensitivity, which are precisely the human qualities that make us so effective.
In general, modern computers are considered intelligent because they send out signals millions of times faster than human neurons and thus learn faster. With the ability to mimic human action, feeling, speech and decision-making, they recognize patterns of information and make their decisions on this basis. This type of intelligence appears to be extremely useful, especially in an organizational setting, as they recognize trends and optimize accordingly. Moreover, unlike the human body, AI does not fatigue. As long as the flow of data is guaranteed, it continues to work.
Compared to AI, which can only react to available data, humans have the ability to face changing situations, anticipate, react to, and assess the situation accordingly. This allows us to move from short-term to long-term considerations. In short, humans do not require a constant flow of externally provided data, which is the uniqueness of the human brain.
So humans represent the authentic intelligence – a different kind of AI, if you will. Open systems are needed for this kind of intelligence. Teams and organizations interact with an external environment and therefore have to cope with a wide variety of influences. Such a work environment requires the ability to respond to sudden changes, anticipate and deal with skewed information exchange. At the same time, creativity is required when it comes to developing a vision and a strategy for the future. This kind of interaction requires processes and systems to be constantly reshaped and thus to be truly intelligent.
Challenges in the use of AI systems
Looking at the above differences, it becomes clear that machines cannot completely replace humans, but that in combination a new form of efficiency can emerge. The challenges that arise in this context are manifold. Foremost among them are internal company issues surrounding the application and further development of AI methods. Also critical is social acceptance in dealing with the various technologies. In the following, I explain the most important pitfalls.
A major danger in the use of AI is that humans forget how to make the right decisions in complex situations and no longer question the suggestions generated by the AI. This deskilling and loss of human expertise weakens companies in the long term and increases operational risks. AI should therefore only be used as a tool to enhance cognitive capabilities and not to completely replace the human workforce. This leads to the next difficulty, because the use of AI creates a black box through which decisions can no longer be interpreted or plausibilized. This task must be performed by a human with the appropriate expertise. AI should therefore be explanatory, so that the decisions are well-founded and justified and traceability is created.
Depending on the area of application, data protection, i.e. access to data and the right to use it, is often a major obstacle. Many current AI applications are based on machine learning and thus rely on the availability of high-quality, annotated data in sufficient numbers. A further challenge is the biased and complete data situation, the so-called bias. In addition, algorithms may exhibit systematic errors as a result of under- or overfitting. All this results in weak model predictions.
In the medical environment in particular, the question of additional regulations for the application of AI must be clarified at government level. Any regulations should be formulated with restraint and be balanced from an application perspective. It is important to base these guidelines on social values and interests, for example with regard to the explainability of AI decisions or the non-discriminatory application of the technology. At the same time, internationally aligned as well as industry-specific standards and guidelines will be needed to manage the compliance of the companies and the applied systems..
Outlook into the future
Artificial intelligence is a powerful tool. It is constantly evolving and offers many opportunities, but also poses risks. AI can optimize sales channels and maintenance techniques, increase production output and quality, improve customer service, and help save energy, to name just a few examples. It is already providing some support in many industries today and holds enormous potential for the future in particular.
The greatest opportunity, but also the greatest risk, lies in the complementary use of AI and humans. AI is not a replacement for human labor but a complement. The full potential of AI can only be realized when insight is gained into this black box and human expertise is allowed to play a part. This requires that the AI be monitored more closely and that the justifiability of its decisions be developed to a greater extent..
In short, technology serves as a tool, while the company remains responsible. If this symbiosis of man and machine succeeds, it promotes the development of a new generation of products and services.