Connected Humans, Connected Things: AI and Human Intelligence in 2018


Andy Fitze, co-founder of SwissCognitive, believes the real potential of solving real world problems, including in the world of IoT, will always be driven by human beings, supported by artificial intelligence, never replaced by avatars.

“There’s no evidence avatars will do everything,” Fitze said, “given the distinction between competence and performance.”

Fitze, who travels globally to advise enterprises and organizations on how “AI” threatens or enhances their businesses, said “machines can perform certain tasks better than humans, but machines cannot replace the level of competence and sensitivity humans bring to value creation. Consider the subtlety of asking a robot to pick up a glass of water – they cannot adapt to the shape and delicacy of a glass, particularly a very fine, thin glass, in the way humans are able to.”

Speaking from his home in the Swiss Alps, Fitze shared another metaphor, that of the ability to elegantly end a conversation. “An avatar, no matter how sophisticated the programming, cannot sense another human’s response to a conversation, cannot elegantly close out an AI discussion in the same way as humans can. We are decades away from this level of fine tuning in the relationship between humans and machines.”

Given his visionary view of a more connected future, it is interesting to note Fitze may be more of a realist than one would think, including when it comes to the relationship of connected things and people in the rapidly growing and change world of IoT.

“What is real is the value of data,” Fitze said, “and that data is poised to explode in 2018 with billions of new endpoints lighting up, driven largely by the Internet of Things. Machine learning, deep learning, intelligence is richer when we have more data to derive patterns. Making life simpler and better through data makes sense, with smarter products – and that is the underlying value of layering in AI in IoT applications.”

The trend towards automation and data collection and analysis is where Fitze sees “many, many use cases coming up. Where IoT gets even more interesting is when we finally reach the pivotal moment of IPV6, enabling over 600 billion IP addresses by each square millimeter around the world, as well as the speed of the manifestation of 5G/LTE networks which support voice recognition and more. When billions of people can use their voice to command billions of things, we’ll find ourselves in an entirely new world experience.”

Fitze points to the statistical evidence that the IoT creates more endpoints through machine instrumentation than could have ever been the case with human endpoints. “We cannot even imagine, yet, the combinations of value possible when we envision the relationship of humans and machines. This will disrupt everything as we know it, particularly business models. This is particularly interesting when we consider contextually oriented data, whether we are in our autonomous cars, or in our smart homes, when we are traveling and when we are working.”

Fitze says we should encourage children to not choose “a career” rather to learn how to be adaptive, creative and courageous.

“Of course, we have seen massive value created based simply on the advancement of the Internet alone, for example the successes of Amazon, AliBaba and so forth,” Fitze said. “But as global and pervasive as e-commerce applications are, where we see really exciting innovation ahead is quite local.”

Fitze pointed to the opportunities for the IoT to improve healthcare, within communities where real human beings need to receive care, both virtually and physically, and cited a discussion with a top executive developing IBM Watson at one of SwissCognitive events. “She tried five years ago to describe the future of image recognition, and was totally wrong. Today, we are further than she imagined, and this has informed even more investment in Watson and AI given so many relevant use cases.”

To Fitze, it is “real economics” that will drive applications at the intersection of AI and IoT. “Logistics is very exciting,” he said. “There are so many ways we can make the world right – using our infrastructure better. With IoT sensors combined with data and analytics, we can help everything run like Swiss trains. We’re seeing the greatest movement where IoT deployments, combined with data, analytics, and machine learning save money and deliver a better experience, often in that order.”

Fitze spoke about projects underway at the United Nations as an example of how IoT and AI are addressing “down to earth” real world problems. “The UN sees technology as a major means to help them reach their sustainable goals in education, medicine, water and more. A very inspiring example is the UN’s work in using autonomous drones being sent out to look for signs of life after natural disasters, as well as sensing where electricity and other infrastructure basics are available. They are able to coordinate rebuilding more efficiently, with data gathered by drones, to save lives and restore critical services.”

SwissCognitive, founded by Fitze and Dalith Steiger, is a lively, ongoing “think tank” and serves hundreds of organizations and enterprises in bringing together senior leaders in the non-profit and for-profit worlds to discuss the upside of using cognitive technologies to improve life, ignoring hype, and focusing on real-world challenges that can be solved by enhancing human actions with better information.

“AI is here to stay,” Fitze said. “So is the IoT.  The question is not ‘whether AI will change our world’ but rather ‘How are we dealing with these changes?’ Together we are faster and stronger in developing the opportunities of AI to the benefit of society, cope with the challenges, and prevent a harmful use of AI against society.”

Like the many IoT communities (Industrial Internet Consortium, Linux EdgeX Foundry, and more) Fitze is building similar networks to address AI – including AI in the IOT.

“We are convinced that AI needs a common and global approach – a global hub,” Fitze said. Launched in the summer of 2016, SwissCognitive’s platform has attracted hundreds of participants. “Creating a framework and common set of standards requires an open, independent, and transparent approach. There can be no physical or social or cultural boundaries,” Fitze said. “A global community effort is essential to unlocking all the positive possible in AI and IoT, while helping us ensure that we are protecting society from unintended consequences, including the misuse of the technology which has driven a lot of Hollywood movies – a world where things take over, not by themselves, but by those who seek to gain by controlling the Internet in ways we can avoid by working together.”

SwissCognitive offers a neutral and open environment to meet, exchange, connect, and debate about AI, regardless of regional or national boundaries, bringing together technology experts, consultants, IT companies, governments, standards and policy organizations and more.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox. [Free eNews Subscription]

Contributing Writer

Related Articles

Direct-to-Device Innovation, Courtesy of Viasat and Skylo Technologies

By: Alex Passett    11/28/2023

Viasat and Skylo Technologies seek to unlock the potential of Direct-to-Device (D2D) services for consumers, businesses and governments around the wor…

Read More

5G IoT Connectivity to Benefit from New Partnership Between OQ Technology and o2 Telefonica

By: Alex Passett    11/27/2023

OQ Technology and o2 Telefonica have signed their MOU on boosting 5G IoT connectivity together, kicking off mainly in Q2 of 2024.

Read More

Schneider Electric Integrates Microsoft Azure OpenAI for Sustainable Solutions

By: Greg Tavarez    11/21/2023

Schneider Electric tapped into its collaboration with Microsoft to integrate Microsoft Azure OpenAI into its operations, utilizing algorithms to gener…

Read More

Connectivity Standards Alliance Unlocks the Future of Digital Access with Aliro

By: Greg Tavarez    11/20/2023

Aliro is a new effort aimed at transforming how users unlock doors or other entry points using their mobile device or wearable.

Read More

AEye Introduces In-Cabin Lidar with Peak Performance

By: Greg Tavarez    11/16/2023

The 4Sight Flex is designed to be energy-efficient and low-cost and can detect objects up to 275 meters away.

Read More