Hitting the Right Note with AI: The Importance of Human Collaboration
AI may be a long way off true creativity, but there are lessons to be learnt from music when it comes to its deployment. Laurie Miles, director of analytics at SAS UK & Ireland, explains
I’m a Beatles freak, I’ve always been a Beatles freak, and as they once sang: ‘All You Need Is Love’. While that song title probably merits more than an article entirely to itself, it also highlights that while machines and artificial intelligence (AI) can give you lots of things, they cannot provide the full suite of emotional intelligence that humans possess.
So in business it’s key that we find a way to combine the best of AI with the best that our workforce can offer.
Indeed, AI is still a long way off being able to create music that moves the soul. It can do a decent job for elevator music – and even passable pastiche – but nothing you’d want to stick on the stereo.
However, when humans and AI collaborate they can make some beautiful music together. In business as in music, there’s an important lesson here for mankind’s relationship with the AI of its own creation.
The limitations of AI
One of the biggest misconceptions about AI is that it will replace a whole swathe of job roles thanks to its greater speed, accuracy and efficiency.
Indeed, musicians are possibly the only group of people who aren’t worried about their jobs being replaced by robots. But the example of music provides us with wider lessons for effective AI adoption and deployment, not least in learning not to lose what makes humans so special.
We need to recognise where AI truly adds value, including where it can take on work currently performed by people, and where it cannot hope to compare. Deployments need to be carefully planned and implemented to ensure a happy union between humans and machines, where each can complement the other’s skills.
If we replace workers with AI we can make gains in efficiency but could lose out on some of the qualities that we’ve come to take for granted – things like personal interactions that are so central to brilliant customer service or the leaps in imagination that are so central to creating new ideas that power a healthy economy.
Humans and AI must work in harmony
You might have read this far and think that I’m talking solely about demarcation and creating separate spheres for humans and machines. In fact, precisely the opposite is true: it is about ensuring that machines can help humans be better at their jobs while simultaneously aiding AI to become more, well, human.
Take the example of Mevo, one of the growing range of AI assistants. Mevo is more than just a diary organiser: ‘she’ has an important role to play in the creative process, capable of creating a virtual camera setup for livestreaming events and simulating the role of multiple camera operators and an editorial director.
We’d never hand over video production entirely to tools like Mevo; what she can do, though, is to help turn two days of hard creative labour to just half a day.
“There are countless examples of where technologies can complement human activity, which is why it’s past time for organisations to think more deeply about how they are deploying AI.”
In the technology industry one of the hottest topics is augmented reality, but we seem less able to discuss how AI should be augmenting rather than replacing human workers (and vice versa).
There are countless examples of where technologies can complement human activity, which is why it’s past time for organisations to think more deeply about how they are deploying AI.
If they don’t, they risk following a path that will create separate spheres for human and machine endeavour rather than getting them to work together for the greater good. It would be a great shame if that’s how AI ends up – like an album where each track features a solo instrument rather than bringing them together to create a beautiful noise.
A team effort
One of the most common reasons for bands to split is ‘musical differences’, and with AI it’s important that everyone in an organisation shares the same values. Rather than following the lead singer, everyone needs to contribute to the debate on how best to implement AI within the organisation, including the thorny issue of ethics.
While it’s advisable for each organisation to agree its own code of AI ethics, it’s useful to have a set of core principles to work from.
“While it’s advisable for each organisation to agree its own code of AI ethics, it’s useful to have a set of core principles to work from.”
When it comes to AI, the Fairness, Accountability, Transparency and Explainability (FATE) framework provides an ideal starting point.
The guidelines encourage responsible and transparent data use at every stage of the AI process, from collection to analysis, and mandates that decisions made by machines be fair and unbiased, with a diverse range of inputs at design to avoid inbuilt discrimination.
If businesses can bring together humans and AI, and discover how to make them work together in perfect harmony, they will find themselves much better able to create meaningful answers to the specific business problems they face. That should be music to anyone’s ears.