Hero image of Signal AI's CEO David Benigson TEDx talk 2
29th November 2019
David Benigson

AI and automation: The horror, hype, and how augmentation is the new frontier

I was recently invited to speak about Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the inaugural TEDxBonnSquare event. As excited and honoured as I was, there was just one slight snag. As an AI-powered technology provider, what does Artificial Intelligence mean to us?

Redefining Artificial Intelligence

The infamous tech buzzword – Artificial Intelligence – was first coined by John McCarthy, one of the founders of the discipline of AI, in 1955 and was widely used after the 1956 Dartmouth conference. While this long history and the evolution of AI is understood by the computer and data science communities, what the everyday person understands AI to be is undefined, founded in hype, and constantly changing.

The popular definition and concepts of AI’s impact are desperately in need of updating and redefining. I believe that we need an exercise in semantics that will bring wide understanding of AI firmly into the 21st century and provide a true reflection of the current capabilities and limitations of this groundbreaking technology. Especially in relation to its direct impact on our lives and livelihoods.

Augmented Intelligence

With a vision to transform decision making and as an AI-powered technology solution provider, at Signal AI we are pioneers at the forefront of Augmented Intelligence. We believe that we are redefining what AI means with our very vision and changing how it is understood by the wider world.

With this in mind, I took to the stage as a representative of both Signal AI and the AI industry as a whole, as well as someone with empathy for others’ fears of automation and the hype around AI. Fears ignited or inflamed by Elon Musks’ predictions of a jobless future and Boris Johnson’s statement in a speech at the UN that your “mattress will monitor your nightmares” and AI will lead to “pink-eyed terminators sent back from the future to cull the human race”.

This is however, not what we – as an AI-powered technology company and group of people passionate about the capabilities of AI – see in our future. Artificial Intelligence and its impacts are consistently misunderstood as automation, but I firmly believe that the future of AI is the augmentation of human endeavours – both in the workplace and out.

I therefore felt duty bound to urge the redefining of expectations around AI and provide guidance on how we can implement this technology ethically through education and awareness.

Augmented Intelligence is not only the weapon and shield of the future, but also the greatest human success story of the 21st century. In my TEDx talk I challenged the horror and hype surrounding AI and put forward an alternative picture of the future where augmentation is the new frontier. I remain convinced that these technologies are much more likely to augment us, to partner with us, to collaborate with us, and to unlock a new age of innovation and value that we’ve never seen before.