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How AI and Technology is Blurring the Lines Between Humans and Machines

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By Peter McConville, Senior Director and Global Head of Digital, Synechron

As technology becomes ever more advanced and smartphone-led interactions dominate our everyday lives, blurring the lines between man and machine, it’s important to consider how this might change business. Will recent advancements in AI and generative AI take this hybridization to new levels and offer us new opportunities for understanding customers? What place do humans have in an AI-oriented future?

The notion that technology can demonstrate the same level of intelligence and sentience as a human being has been talked about a lot lately And, according to The World Economic Forum’s study on the future of jobs, this AI technology is increasingly becoming popular in the workplace. The thought-provoking question now is what place humans have in this AI-oriented future.

The ‘Human-Computer Intersection’

The shift in the relationship between humans and computers implies an active transition from ‘Human-Computer Interaction’ to what we can perhaps refer to as ‘Human-Computer Intersection’.

The Interaction Design Foundation defines Human-Computer Interaction as the design and study of creating processes that seamlessly facilitate the interaction between users and digital artefacts. Human-Computer Interaction recognizes the separation between humans and computers, with humans interacting with computers as external entities. On the other hand, what we are referring to as Human-Computer Intersection implies a convergence of humans and computers, blurring the line between humans and machines.

The shift from Human-Computer Interaction to Human-Computer Intersection represents an evolution in the relationship between humans and computers. It acknowledges that technology is becoming more integrated into our lives, transforming how we work, communicate, and navigate the world. The focus then moves beyond mere interaction to a point where humans and computers intersect, collaborate, and mutually shape each other’s capabilities and experiences.

Instantly access and analyze information

This increased integration now allows us to access and analyse information instantly. Humans are interconnected, through the internet, readily accessing knowledge and communication networks through wearable devices, smartphones, and other connected technologies. Advanced AI algorithms enable us to process increasing amounts of data, helping us to make informed decisions. We’re now harnessing the power of AI to augment our cognitive abilities.

Becoming superhuman

AI-powered systems assist in tasks like complex data analysis, predictive modelling and decision-making, giving us almost superhuman computational capabilities.

Having instant and continuous access to systems with human-like intelligence will supercharge human ability and allow us to work smarter. An example of this is Neuralink, an implantable, brain/computer interface that translates thoughts into action. Neuralink is a literal integration of technological device with a human being, entirely erasing the blurred line between humans and machines. According to Neuralink’s founder, Elon Musk, if humans want to continue to add value to the economy, they must augment their capabilities through a merger of biological and machine intelligence. Musk further contends that if we fail to do this, we’ll risk becoming “house cats” to artificial intelligence.

What are the ethical implications?

As we become increasingly intertwined with technology, questions have arisen about the ethical implications. The boundaries between humans and computers are becoming less distinct; challenging us to consider the impact on personal autonomy, privacy, and societal norms. As we essentially become cyborgs, will what we perceive as the essence of humanity be eroded? Will we need to ensure that we keep human purpose in mind when we design and deploy technology in a business setting?

There are other ethical and moral considerations surrounding the development and use of future technologies. According to IBM’s paper on AI Ethics In Action, it’s important to establish a moral standard to help machines empathetically distinguish between right and wrong. There is a fear that this integration could lead to unequal access, exacerbate social inequalities, or enable unethical uses of technology.

New opportunities to understand customers

At the intersection of humans and computers – lies a realm of collaboration, symbiosis, and mutual influence.
As man merges with machine, the ‘human’ in human-centered design will become, in some ways, ‘superhuman’ and the shift in user psychology will open up UX design to a host of new behavioural traits – clearly, this could have a significant impact on the customer experience – and the improvement thereof. That said, as the interdependence between humans and machines becomes more pronounced, we might need to explore our evolving humanity, particularly in terms of the balance between the human psyche and our new technological wiring.

It’s important to understand the psychological dynamics in an age when technology increasingly reshapes what it means to be human. According to Harvard Business Review’s insights on technology and vulnerability, when man eventually merges with machine, the question will not be what computers can do, or what they will be like in the future, but instead “What will we be like?” The cyborgization of humanity is not to be feared but rather understood as a fusion of human potential and technological evolution that will propel humanity, technology, and business into a new era of possibilities. Companies who explore the potential of AI technology to revolutionize their business will stay ahead of their competitors. Data science, large language models (LLMs), and generative AI (GenAI) technologies, in particular, can provide specific training and fine-tuning models to optimize business performance. Humans and technology will continue to integrate, and significant and exciting opportunities lie here.

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