The idea of a cyborg is certainly tantalizing, but what does it really mean, and what might its role be for work and business?
A cybernetic organism, or cyborg as it is commonly known, is a combination of biological and artificial intelligence (AI). Fundamentally, we are already cyborgs. As the symbiotic relationship with our smartphones has rapidly grown over the past few decades — and we have created our digital footprints online — the gap between input and output continues to shrink at the rate of technological growth.
If we think of the human brain functioning as a machine, we can view it as operating as a series of inputs and outputs, in which our ability to input information and data far exceeds our ability to output it. The cyborg can help diminish this input/output divide.
The input/output divide
In terms of input bandwidth, the brain can carry out approximately one thousand trillion logical operations per second and has an almost infinite storage capacity. However, we lack a full understanding of how the 86 billion neurons in our brain interact. The constraints on our output velocity are what create the input/output divide.
In terms of output, we are only two thumbs tapping away on a screen, verbally dictating a speech or plugging numbers into a calculator. The computer is much faster and more accurate when calculating large mathematical equations or other problems because that’s what it was designed to do.
Our brains are not meant to process large datasets, but we are better at building internal models of our world and surroundings in our head due to the evolutionary development of our senses. AI’s ability to recognize our surroundings from image recognition, for example, and to form neural networks that imitate patterns in our brain are the factors that can bridge the gap between input and output, so that we can tap into the full potential of our brains via integrating ourselves with technology.
Business intelligence or unintelligence?
We can gain insight from the vast amounts of data that people and businesses produce by using augmented analytics. It’s a method that takes machine learning (ML) and natural language processing to enhance business capabilities in the form of data analytics to facilitate faster growth and a more accurate business strategy.
Aberdeen research found that 70 percent of analytics users need information to be available within the hour or sooner. These advanced analytics can take unstructured data and produce results in the form of charts or reports much faster than any data scientist or market expert could, allowing users to better allocate their time toward complex queries and to draw insights from these findings.
Currently, we are far away from businesses harnessing the potential of these technologies. Aberdeen research also found that more than 30 percent of companies don’t know or don’t measure the total amount of active business data their organization manages. While almost 60 percent of companies want to increase operational efficiency by enhancing/extending their data platforms, they are not taking the proper measures to utilize their data. As businesses slowly adapt to the data revolution, the nature of business and work will continue to change as the rate of technological growth outpaces our ability to understand and implement it.
The nature of work and the jobs of tomorrow
As new technologies have transformed the nature of work and the skills needed in the labor force, it is a relatively recent development that emerging technologies such as AI and ML are shifting the demand curve of tasks from people toward machines. While new technologies have been able to increase the productivity of workers at tasks they are currently performing, new technologies also produce new tasks for workers, which can counterbalance the displacement effects of automation.
Augmented analytics and other emerging technologies will change the nature of work, but what other implications are there from these technologies? As populations both physically and mentally decline, the development of cyborg technologies is critical in enhancing workers’ longevity and ability to coexist with technology. For example, robotic suits have been developed in Japan to assist workers with lifting heavy objects, and autonomous cars and trucks are being deployed on the road. Elon Musk’s Neuralink, which is an implant for a brain-machine interface, is the best-known case of cyborg development — but a less well-known case is Peter 2.0.
The first full cyborg
In 2017, Dr. Peter Scott-Morgan, a roboticist, author and speaker was diagnosed with motor neuron disease or MND (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), a degenerative illness that will eventually paralyze all but the movement of his eyes. Peter has chosen to become the first full cyborg, demonstrating the potential of AI to improve the quality of people’s lives. Peter 2.0 uses his eyes to control an avatar that speaks in his own voice. This application of AI demonstrates that cyborgs not only have the ability to enhance businesses’ operational efficiency, but also to accomplish what Peter 2.0 wants to do — thrive. As these technologies continue to develop, we can fully understand cognition and merge our natural intelligence with digital intelligence, bridging the gap between input and output.