AI everywhere & nowhere part 3 – AI is AAAI (Assisted-Augmented-Autonomous Intelligence)

May 20, 2016



Changing the definition of artificial intelligence to mean assisted, augmented, autonomous intelligence.

In our first blog post on AI Everywhere and Nowhere, we outlined the challenges of defining Artificial Intelligence and in our second blog post, we described how ubiquitous AI is becoming and defined it as Ubiquitous Intelligence. In this blog, we define the continuum of AI as AAAI–Assisted, Augmented, and Autonomous Intelligence.

AI as Assisted Intelligence

Over the past couple of decades, AI has replaced many of the repetitive and standardized tasks done by humans. For example, industrial robots are tackling many manufacturing tasks. Similarly, many administrative tasks like taking minutes of a meeting, answering the phones, and searching for information are all done by some form of an automated system. We call this type of automation–where the AI is assisting humans to do the same tasks faster or better–Assisted Intelligence. The humans are still making some of the key decisions, but the AI is executing the tasks on their behalf. The decision rights are solely with the humans.

AI as Augmented Intelligence

We are just now moving to the next stage of Augmented Intelligence where humans and machines learn from each other and redefine the breadth and depth of what they do together. For example, in a recent client engagement, we carried out 200,000 go-to-market scenarios generated by an AI system for a new service introduction. This provided the human decision makers with a high degree of granularity and specificity regarding the assumptions, future projections and impact of the new service introduction.

While the system learned a lot and modeled the ecosystem, the humans learned a lot about the sensitivities and feedback involved in market adoption. Under these circumstances, the human and the machine share the decision rights. In addition, unlike Assisted Intelligence, in Augmented Intelligence, the nature of the task fundamentally changes. On a spectrum of no automation versus total autonomous operation, each sector, company, and individual will set the appropriate level of machine augmentation. Over time, the dial might move more toward totally autonomous or it might stay somewhere in between.

AI as Autonomous Intelligence

Lastly, we see Autonomous Intelligence where adaptive/continuous systems take over in some cases. They will do so only after the human decision maker starts trusting the machine (e.g., fully autonomous self-driving cars), or when the cycle time of decision making is so fast that having the human in the loop is a liability (e.g., automated trading). In this type of intelligence, the decision rights are with the machine and hence fundamentally different from assisted intelligence.

The choice of moving from Augmented Intelligence to Autonomous Intelligence will be largely in our hands and will be made based on a number of different factors, including the speed of human decision making, the technical feasibility of making autonomous decisions, the cost of building such solutions, and the trust we place in these solutions.

As enterprises contemplate the introduction of AI across their functional areas, it helps to clearly articulate which stage of AI they are aiming for – are they merely automating repetitive tasks and providing Assisted Intelligence? Are they fundamentally changing the nature of work by having humans and machines collaborate with each other to make decisions with Augmented Intelligence? Or are they delegating all decision making with Autonomous Intelligence?

What types of tasks in your organization can you automate by having Assisted Intelligence? Have you thought about how to rethink your business using Augmented Intelligence? Do you think that your company will ever get to a stage of completely handing over the job to the machine?



Chris Curran

Principal and Chief Technologist, PwC US Tel: +1 (214) 754 5055 Email

Anand Rao

Global Artificial Intelligence Lead, PwC US Tel: +1 (617) 530 4691 Email