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The Augmented Intelligence Explosion

February 22, 2017

Imagine for a minute:

You wake up in the morning fumbling around for your watch only to realize you are running late for your breakfast meeting.

You quickly get ready and get in your car. You vaguely remember your assistant yesterday giving you directions to the meeting location…“head south on El Camino Real, turn right at Page Mill and left at the first light, or was it a right at the second light?”

Imagine life before smartphones, Google Maps, digital tools to enhance your mind.

The last 28 years (since TBL invented the World Wide Web in March 1989), our individual productivity and “intelligence” have been greatly “augmented”.

Think of the superpowers you have today. You can summon a vehicle to your exact location; you can find the answer to almost any question within seconds; you can call upon a digital assistant by voice command to tell you the weather or the current score of the Warriors game.

Over the next 5 years, we will see this form of Augmented Intelligence reach a mind-numbing level.

The Last 5 Percent

This highly scientific and precise chart from Wait But Why presents our current situation perfectly.

Many of the AI based products are somewhere between 95–99% accurate. Whether you look at speech recognition, autopilot, digital assistance, the technology is not quite to the point where we can trust it 100% of the time.

Tesla now regularly pumps out over 1 million self driving miles per day; Clara Labs, a digital assistant startup, has 97% meeting scheduling accuracy; Siri works pretty well for pulling up the weather, your meetings and sending short text messages. But again, it’s still not at the near 100% accuracy level we need to trust our digital intelligence completely on most tasks.

Image credit to Wait But Why.

But over the next 3–5 years, we’ll be pushing the edge of perfection for AI. Getting the last 5 percent will be the hardest part, but once we get to the near 100% state, our reliance on and adoption of AI based products will soar exponentially. See chart above for reference.

Faster, Better, Stronger

One of the main limitations of humans is the speed of our input and output systems. I can only read so many words per minute and type so many words per minute.

An average person types at 40 words per minute but speaks at 100-150 words per minute. We can read at 200 words per minute, but we can listen at 400+ words per minute.

Each of us can get 3X more production, communication, work done just by transitioning from typing to speaking. And another 2X from reading to listening. This transition is predicated on AI products, particularly natural language understanding, getting close to the near 100% level. Once it does, it will become very natural to speak and listen to Siri (and it’s successors).

AirPods is just the beginning.

Oh, The Possibilities

Combining AI and AR (augmented reality), and our imaginations can run wild with the literal augmentation to our intelligence. Our minds and sensors will get even more intimate to technology. Information and answers can be called upon to appear directly in front of our eyes. Collaboration across borders, managing complex organizations, recalling data can all be done with a spoken command to an augmented reality headset (or glasses or whatever form it comes in at that time).

Big Bang

Artificial intelligence is growing so fast, even Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin is surprised.

By 2020, AI and the ecosystem of products around it such as augmented reality platforms, will become so powerful that humans who fully adopt and take advantage of these technology will seem like super-beings from another planet with access to answers, services, people at a speed and quality never experienced before.

“Augmented intelligence” has been here a part of life for the past three decades, but it’s about to change everything again in the next half decade.


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