Market Mad House

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche


Artificial Intelligence’s Real Edge is its Ability to Focus

Artificial Intelligence’s real edge over human beings is the ability to focus on what’s important.

For instance, an artificial intelligence (AI), a digital robot, or an algorithm can focus 100% of its its data-crunching abilities on a specific task. A retail AI can spend all of its time examining sales data and come up with dozens of new insights about customers.

The ability to focus explains why AIs can quickly learn to beat the best human players at complex games like poker, bridge, and the Chinese strategy classic Go quickly. In fact, the Libratus AI learned how to beat a few of the world’s best players at Texas Hold ‘Em in 20 days, Wired reports.

Dramatically, Google DeepMind’s Alpha Go defeated 60 professional Go players in 2017, FreeCodeCamp reports. In fact, FreeCodeCamp notes AlphaGo, “won every single game, against dozens of world champions, of course without resting between games.”

How Focus explains AI’s success at Games

In just one quote, FreeCodeCamp explains why artificial intelligence can quickly beat humans at most games.

To explain, a human gets distracted, has to rest, eat, sleep, etc. In essence, all Libratus thinks about is poker. A human poker player; on the other hand, is thinking about many things.

The human could think about sex, food; if he’s hungry, last night’s football game, the book he read last week, his stock portfolio’s performance, his loss at Fortnite last night, or wondering why they painted the wall that color. Libratus; meanwhile, only thinks about poker and how to win at it.

Thus, Alpha Go Zero could learn Go in days with no human help, Nature reports. All Alpha Go Zero did was to play Go repeatedly until mastering the game. Frighteningly, Alpha Go Zero played 30 million games of Go in 40 days. Alpha Go can accumulate thousands of lifetimes’ worth of Go knowledge in a little over a month.

Consequently, Alpha Go Zero knows more about Go than any human could. Alpha Go Zero learned all about Go by focusing on it.

Artificial Intelligence is not as smart as you think

Therefore, artificial intelligence is not very smart. In fact, AI is so dumb many computer experts believe the term artificial intelligence is inaccurate.

However, AI does not have to be smart to outwit and defeat humans. Algorithms can beat us because they can focus on one task. Thus, AI’s secret weapon in the war on humanity is focus.

Thus, an algorithm could become a far better stock trader, fighter pilot, copy editor, copy editor, fact checker, loan processor, claims adjuster, file clerk, race car driver, airline pilot, truck driver, crane operator, or welder than a human ever could. However, even the smartest AIs will be terrible politicians, police officers, teachers, lawyers, generals, administrators, managers, or salespeople.

To explain, a political leader, store manager, military commander, or judge has to contend with an incredible number of variables in her or his day-to-day work. For instance, a general has to weigh the political repercussions and ethics of a weapon or tactic, besides its effectiveness on the battlefield.

Meanwhile, a store manager has to understand the big picture of the company’s goals; the small details of customer service, and stocking the shelves. Additionally, a police officer has to contend with complex ethical and legal issues every time she goes on patrol. Should the officer, stop a suspicious-looking person who is apparently doing nothing wrong for instance.

How AI can Help Humans Focus

Strangely, algorithms and AI can help humans focus better by utilizing strategies like machine learning.

An AI could direct many of the day-to-day activities of retail workers, for instance. The AI could tell them which shelves to stock, which customers need help, and detect problems in the store.

However, only time will tell if workers will follow AI’s orders. Although AI will be probably be smarter and more helpful than many of the managers I have worked for.

Will AI make Leaders more Effective?

Thus, the AI could give the store manager; or corporate executive, more time to think about the big issues facing the store or the chain. Managers could focus on devising new sales campaigns, or investigating new products, rather than spending all their time distracted by petty details.

Indeed, focusing AI are already making humans in fields like finance, marketing, and politics more effective. A human politician, for example, no longer has to study individual voter data. Instead, an algorithm can examine the data for the human and provide her with a better picture of voters and their attitudes.

Thus, the human politicians could spend more time on the campaign trail interacting with voters, raising funds, or devising new policies. Moreover, the AI can tell the politicians which voters she needs to interact with to improve her chances in the next election.

Can AI make leaders more effective by killing bureaucracy?

Additionally, AI could reduce the need for bureaucracy which can make it hard for leaders to focus. Bureaucracy distracts leaders by creating needless crises and requiring pointless decision making.

Most bureaucracies promote micromanagement by discouraging creativity, initiative, efficiency, responsibility, independence, imagination, honesty, flexibility, and transparency. Moreover, many bureaucracies reward conformity, rigidity, indecisiveness, irresponsibility, secrecy, inefficiency, and dishonesty.

One consequence of bureaucracy is that leaders and managers spend all their time handling emergencies. A CEO, has no time to focus; because she has to handle the crisis of the day or the emergency of the week, under those conditions.

Algorithms and AI can eliminate bureaucracy by automating most of the tasks bureaucrats perform. An algorithm can do a far better job of creating and maintaining files, paying bills, processing invoices, or billing clients than a human clerk for instance.

Plus, digital robots are a lot faster than people. An algorithm using digital process automation can look up the data an executive needs instantly.

How humans can compete with AI

Humans can never out focus AI. In fact, news articles indicate AI has already won the focus battle.

Therefore, to remain competitive and make money you need to learn how to use AI and algorithms to enhance your job skills. Writers, can use digital copyediting tools to improve their writing, for instance.

Meanwhile, AI personal assistants can increase the effectiveness of a wide variety of professionals. Be careful with digital personal assistants because their current capabilities are limited.

Will Digital Personal Assistants Make you More Effective?

Intelligent assistants can handle many repetitive tasks and help absent-minded people with tasks such as scheduling and answering the phone.

Thus, they are useful for professionals who need the illusion of a professional office staff. Unfortunately, today’s digital assistants cannot run your business for you – yet.

However, I think smarter digital personal assistants that can handle chores like finance, basic accounting, tax preparation, tax filing, bookkeeping, basic customer service, social media management, marketing, and basic administration will soon hit the market.

Thus you need to watch the market for smarter personal assistants and deploy them quickly. Next, develop expertise, skills, and accumulate knowledge that AI cannot readily imitate. Study artificial intelligence and identify the the marketable tasks it is not learning.

Focus is the Key to Success

Fortunately, there are a wide variety of skills AI are not mastering yet including teaching, selling, face to face customer service, and even hair styling. Identifying something AI cannot do that you are good at can make you marketable in today’s world.

Finally, learn how to focus. Only those who focus can make the big decisions and earn the big money. Even though you will never out focus an AI, you can improve your thinking, creativity, and job performance by focusing.

Understanding the power and importance of focus is the best way for humans to compete with AI and profit from it. One thing is clear about the future, people who do not know how to focus will be poor. 

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