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Man and machine in partnership

Experts say there won’t be a dystopian future where robots take over

Rather than the dystopian vision of robots eventually replacing us, experts say AI will instead augment human intelligence, opening the door to a new realm of possibilities. With man and machine working in partnership, a new golden age of scientific discovery is set to be unleashed in the coming years.

AI is transforming our lives by not only increasing productivity but enabling us to make better and more informed decisions, says Sourav Dutta, chief NLP research scientist at the Huawei Ireland research centre. Dutta, who prefers the terms “assistive intelligence”, says that AI is at the heart of innovation, simplifying and streamlining processes, limiting risks and reducing human errors and biases.

“Through the lens of AI we are now provided with a diverse 360 degree perspective of scenarios, their possible solutions, and at a scale that is revolutionising our understanding and consciousness – making for a true and fruitful partnership between man and machine,” he says.

For example, remote medicinal procedures, by use of AI and robotic technologies, are becoming the norm, allowing medics to transcend geographical barriers. Meanwhile, drug synthesis by experts via help from AI systems like Google AlphaFold, will foster faster and safer development of future medicines and vaccinations, Dutta adds.


An entirely new means of understanding human interactions and languages through AI-based Natural Language Processing (NLP) architectures like “transformers” could benefit knowledge diversification and bridge barriers across remote regions around the globe – ushering in new horizons in education, understanding user intention and customer experience.

The possibilities are “endless”, says Dutta, whether it is the use of AI systems from remotely controlling satellite clusters or the careful digital restoration of invaluable art pieces. He says as all this unfolds AI will be there as our trusted and reliable “digital buddy”.

In Dutta’s opinion all of this will lead to widespread societal improvement. “We can foresee the advantages that AI can bring towards better governance, climate action plans, business value-addition, security, autonomous driving, knowledge search, education, finance, and the list goes on,” he says, noting that he thinks of this as “applicative AI”.

The long-term implications of more “mature” AI platforms will ultimately enable what he calls “constructivist AI”.

“This will herald unbridled innovation and research breakthroughs. AI systems would then possibly assist us in understanding and disentangling the fundamental questions, be it in terms of solving open mathematical problems (inference and proving), deciphering the evolution of space-time-matter, discovering new chemicals and medicines, or even modelling human consciousness.

In one such example of humans working closely with AI the technology is already being used to efficiently and accurately guide people towards the next stage in their career as it is combined with one-to-one human interaction for a groundbreaking approach to career guidance.

Bridie Killoran, career and learning pathways manager at Atlantic Technological University, explains that mycareerpath.ie was developed by the university as part of the €12.3 million Higher Education 4.0 scheme. The site employs AI technology to review a person’s CV and conduct a mock interview, before a careers adviser assesses the findings and advises on the next steps.

“It is a customised platform that offers career guidance for people in the workplace, offering access to qualified career guidance professionals but also using certain elements of AI for those cumbersome parts of the interaction,” she says.

The site efficiently helps users identify their capabilities and strengths, suggesting careers and higher education courses that align well with these attributes, Killoran adds. Although AI technology is being used to identify areas of potential and gaps for improvement, these findings are then interpreted by a professional.

“They will flag them and then look for strategies in terms of how people could improve them which may be beneficial for their overall employability. What we have designed is something that uses artificial intelligence but you also have the human side.

“It also means the professional is not spending time on the laborious tasks such as building CVs and doing interviews as the AI is useful here in bringing the learner to a certain stage and the professional then interacts at the more advanced stage. This is a lot more efficient.”

Danielle Barron

Danielle Barron is a contributor to The Irish Times