Scaling Humans with Artificial Intelligence

AI Doesn’t Replace Humans — It Scales Us Instead

“clothes iron, hammer, axe, flashlight and pitcher on brown wooden table” by Todd Quackenbush on Unsplash

The arc of technological history is one where humanity creates tools to increase our capacity. It started simple: harnessing fire improved our ability to see, cook and store food. Creating the wheel improved our ability to travel. The telegram improved our ability to communicate. If there is one theme, it’s this: whatever we invent increases our capacity.

“I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. And, humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing, about a third of the way down the list. It was not too proud a showing for the crown of creation. So, that didn’t look so good. But, then somebody at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. And, a man on a bicycle, a human on a bicycle, blew the condor away, completely off the top of the charts.”

Steve Jobs, how the bicycle beats evolution

The reason I bring this up is that AI has people freaked. People aren’t seeing it as an improvement on the current capacity of humans; people are seeing it as a way to replace humans.

Yes, every technology has displaced some jobs. When the automobile was invented, all the horse buggy whip manufacturers lost their jobs. But they weren’t rendered meaningless as humans; all it meant was a career change. When a technology increases what a human can do, all the humans suddenly can get more done — and we have to reorganize as a result.

Artificial Intelligence is the same way. It doesn’t replace humans, it scales them. Olive CEO Sean Lane gave an excellent talk on this subject.

“Humans scale through tools. What I mean by that if you look at the past, when we have invented tools like the wheel, we have scaled as humans. We were able to accomplish so much more as a humankind… when we created tools that made us more effective.”
“To do the big moonshot ideas and the things that are really really hard, we have to create tools that scale us.”

Lane goes on to explain that the way Artificial Intelligence is different from other tools isn’t because it can or can’t replace humans. It’s different because it’s the first kind of tool that can use tools. For the first time, a human tool can use all the other human tools it needs to get something done.

He goes on to talk about how this changes the game for healthcare. Currently, healthcare is inundated with a flood of software that doesn’t work well together. Hospitals have to use a hodgepodge of this software to get things done — jumping from patient info systems to billing systems to insurance check systems. This creates huge delays, as humans have to bridge the gap. But the Artificial Intelligence Olive can bridge that gap for humans, leaving humans free to do what’s important at hospitals — see patients. All the humans have to do is sit down with the Olive platform, OliveBuilder, and teach her how to use their software.

(If you’re in healthcare, you can get access to OliveBuilder through this link).

Olive is taught specially for healthcare, but this technology is being applied in other industries. Automation Anywhere is a company which creates these Artificial Intelligences — or bots — in industries such as marketing, finance, and government. They have an extensive customer list which includes Google and The World Bank, so you know it’s a technology that’s catching on.

So in short: Artificial Intelligence is not here to replace us, it’s here to augment us. We shouldn’t be afraid of it — we should be looking forward to it.