Demystifying AI: Artificial vs. Augmented Intelligence

The more realistic way to think about AI

Robots, AI, and machines- for most people, these terms evoke fear, uncertainty, and distrust. We’re all familiar with the doom and gloom scenarios all too often depicted in sci-fi films of some dystopian future where robots take over our jobs and rule the world. But the matter of fact is that this apocalyptic portrayal is far from realistic. More likely, our relationship with machines will be one of synergy.

While there is no doubt that AI will drastically transform how we work, it is more likely that its impact will be one of complementation and augmentation rather than replacement. According to a Harvard Business Review study involving 1,500 companies, “firms achieve the most significant performance improvements when humans and machines work together.” Instead of replacing our efforts, machines can enhance them. This is where we’re heading-to the age of human-computer collaboration.

Augmented intelligence: synergy between man and machine

Gartner defines augmented intelligence as a design pattern for a human-centered partnership model of people and artificial intelligence (AI) working together to enhance cognitive performance, including learning, decision making and new experiences.

This idea of collaboration starkly contradicts the ever popular conception of machine takeover, a vision that is the source of much misplaced fear. The matter of fact is that augmented intelligence is a much more realistic representation of what is to come, and even of what is already here. Take for example Datarails, a FP&A solution for finance professionals. While AI technology processes, consolidates, and stores all organizational data on a cloud-based database, finance professionals gain more time to engage in tasks that only they can do, like analysis.

So, augmented intelligence acts as an interface, merging the best qualities of humans with the best qualities of machines.

“We’ve estimated that if all companies invest in AI and human-machine collaboration on the same level as early adopters, they stand to boost revenues by an incredible 38% between 2018 and 2022.”
— Payal Vasudeva, Managing Director Accenture Strategy UKI, Talent and Organisation

Where machines dominate


Many business activities place a high premium on speed. Timing matters, and when it comes to speediness machines outpace humans by far. For operations such as uncovering credit-card fraud, accurate detection is vital. That’s why credit card companies such as American Express are relying heavily on data analytics and machine learning to allow for real-time decision-making and in turn save millions in potential losses. If a decision-maker is too slow or makes the wrong call, customers will be more than dissatisfied. With the help of AI, businesses can get the right information at the right time. In turn, this helps employees make the right calls and better anticipate change as the relevant information they need is delivered when they need it. Accumulated, this sort of intervention can have a big influence on the organization’s bottom line.

Analyzing abundant data

Machines thrive in data-rich environments. Machine learning, a buzzword nowadays, involves machines that learn from vast amounts of data. Machines are capable of scanning lots and lots of data and historical information in order to detect patterns. They are capable of learning what is important as opposed to what isn’t, and in turn allow businesses to optimize their processes. While it may take the human eye time to go through rich datasets, algorithms can go past our limited capability and decipher patterns such as those pertaining to customers and markets.

Machines’ strengths: transacting, iterating, predicting, calculating, recalling

Machines’ Competitive Advantage: While one doctor can make a diagnosis in about 10 minutes, in the same amount of time an AI system can make a million.

Where humans still outdo machines


While it may seem that the machines have us beat, it’s important to recognize the domains in which humans are still going strong. At the moment, when it comes to intangible soft skills humans still surpass machines. One of our strong suits is creativity, something that the algorithms don’t have pat down just yet. While algorithms are great for repetitive tasks in stable environments, they aren’t yet ready to handle the instability, uncertainty, and ingenuity that creativity necessitates. Humans, on the other hand, need only look back at all the incredible advancements witnessed throughout history to prove that creativity runs in our veins.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) refers to the ability to recognize and label emotions and use such labeling to guide behavior and thought. Generally speaking, high EQ means someone is smart when it comes to feelings. Given that we live in a social world, being able to read emotional signals and navigate the often ambiguous inner lives and unclear signs of other people is a vital skill. Lucky for us, EQ is a skill machines have yet to master.

Human strengths: leading, improvising, creating, judging

Man’s Competitive Advantage: Humans have the upper hand when it comes to intangible skills that are not seen, but felt.

Humans and machines-like yin and yang

Combine human experience with machine memory to make the most of both sets of capabilities.

Human+machine is not just the future- it already exists in the present. Merging the best qualities of humans and computers allows for optimization, and this is what emerging business processes of the present and all those of the future are going to look like. Work done by both humans and machines creates an outcome that neither one could create single-handedly, and it is the symbiotic relationship between the two that will allow humans to reap the greatest rewards. 

Humans and AI actively enhance and complement each others’ skills. Whether we like it or not, the matter of fact is that businesses will only increasingly depend on people and machines collaborating to ensure their survival.

Augmented intelligence that combines soft skills such as teamwork and creativity of the former, along with the speed and scalability of the latter, is going to ensure organizations get the best results.

About Datarails

Datarails is an augmented CPM solution that empowers FP&A analysts to independently work with data to deliver actionable, data-driven insights. Finally, count on numbers you can trust and reduce inefficiencies without having to change how you work. With Datarails, strengthen the connection between finance and operations to drive better organizational decisions.