Why Good AI Should Kick Your Assumptions in the Groin

Innovation Expert
April 25, 2017

What if AI stood for 'Augmented Introspection' as well as 'Artificial Intelligence'? We've been given a precious do-over opportunity in this emergent time of AI technology, where we can choose to re-design our cities and our selves to align more closely with what we want those things to be. So -- what do we want it to be? Michael Schrage, MIT research fellow and innovation leader, thinks we need to push past the base-level notion of AI servants and assistants. What individuals need to succeed economically and personally are digital tools that can augment (or suppress) our selves — that's right, plural. Schrage's vision of AI is informed by theories of mind developed by cognitive scientists and behavioral economists like Daniel Kahneman, Marvin Minsky, Robert Kurzban and Jonathan Haidt. "According to empirical scientific research, there's no such thing as 'the self'. In fact the metaphor that many people use is that your mind is like a committee, and that depending upon time of day and your mood... One self or aspect of the self may dominate over another," says Schrage. So what aspect of yourself do you most want to enhance and what aspect of yourself do you want to mitigate? AI will help you do that. It will not, however, be a passive pushover that bends to your flaws: great AI, says Schrage, will "kick your assumptions in the groin." Take the example of an online book recommender. A truly intelligent and introspective tool will not just show you books that echo what you've read in the past, it will suggest books that are completely outside of your wheelhouse. It will not simply serve you, it will stretch your thinking. Michael Schrage's most recent book is The Innovator's Hypothesis: How Cheap Experiments Are Worth More Than Good Ideas.