Man vs. Machine: Who Will Come Out On Top?

Development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has definitely heated up in recent years. As smarter and more sophisticated AI have emerged, some are even starting to show that they can compete and even surpass their human counterparts.

One of the most interesting cases is when an AI bot built by a computer science professor and his students successfully beat four of the best professional poker players in the world in a 20 day Texas Hold ‘Em tournament in 2017. It turned the age old assumption that humans fare better at games that require more than just mechanical skill on its head.

Among players on Betway that sparked a debate on whether AI would start to be used more extensively in poker. However that is really just part of a larger debate: Who will come out on top – man or machine?

Some of the answers to that can possibly be found by looking at several areas where AI is already being deployed:

  • Employment

    The threat of machines to jobs is not new, and mechanical automation has been around for decades. However as AI starts to be used more frequently in manufacturing, it is expected to replace more and more human workers.

  • Arguably the more alarming trend is that AI bots are now starting to play roles in customer service and to complete rudimentary administrative tasks. That role has highlighted their limitations too however, e.g. in medical fields where a robot can mimic human conversation but not the sympathy and empathy that is required.

  • Sports

    While robots replacing sportsmen is still in the realm of fiction, AI has started to play a role in sports. The use of AI to analyze athletes’ movements and recommend improvements is expanding, as is its use in refereeing.

    One interesting case is the BotBoxer that uses motion tracking to capture movement, analyze it, and then predicts where a boxer is about to punch. Based on its data it can then recommend improvements to their technique.

    In short in this area the role of machines seems more limited, and confined to assist and enable human athletes and coaching staff.

  • Food delivery

    UberEats has announced it plans to roll out automated food delivery via drone by 2021 – and it is far from the only company looking into it. The concept has already been trialed in Iceland on a limited basis.

    Considering the rudimentary nature of the task, food delivery could be one area where machines emerge the victor. Automated food delivery via drone or other means can be expected in the next 5 years.

Based on those areas the takeaway is simple: Man cannot compete against machine when it boils down to a question of efficiency. However ultimately man does come out on top as there are some areas where humans are irreplaceable or have an emotional component that machines cannot possess.

Suffice to say man is not in any danger of being replaced in the larger sense, but AI will start to take up roles that some humans have traditionally occupied – the same way machines have done in the past.

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