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Superhuman Innovation: Using AI to Write About AI


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is driven by the need to make sense of surplus of data. And with 80% of enterprises investing in AI, it’s no surprise AI is being compared to the invention of electricity – an ambient operating system that will light a new era of innovation.

Throughout my career as a creative director and technologist, I have always been fascinated when human creativity and how it can be amplified by technology.

Over the past number of years, AI has become one of the greatest actionable technological advances we have ever seen. With this in mind, I wanted to celebrate the capabilities and possibilities of AI, but also to test its limits - not only by writing a book about it, but by actually using AI to help write it. So, in the hope of showing how transformational AI can be, I assembled some AI technologies to become a ‘co-author’. Superhuman Innovation was thus designed not just to teach readers about AI, but to show them.

As a metaphor for how AI is giving us superhuman powers, and for the purposes of this book, I have given the AI a name: Aimé, which is derived from a combination of AI + me (and is also coincidentally the French for ‘beloved’ - bien aimé). Aimé reflects the goal of Superhuman Innovation – to show that AI will become a beloved co-creator and intelligent personal assistant going forward.

Aimé also illustrates the role and relationship that humanity is now starting to have with AI. Much like Alexa and Siri, we are moving into an age of intelligent assistants; companions that predict our needs, amplify our human abilities and enhance our evolutionary state of being. Throughout Superhuman Innovation, Aimé learns from me, aids my thoughts, suggests and interprets my needs and even contributes humour.

Capturing AI’s current and future abilities has been a journey of experimentation and exploration which has led to a number of exciting discoveries. There have been instances when it became clear that AI is still very much in its early stages and is not a replacement for human abilities. Rather, it amplifiers human abilities through co-intelligence and collaboration. This symbiotic relationship between human creativity and computational creativity is not only powerful but can be a powerful force for good. AI can be used as a catalyst for designing change.

Excerpt from Superhuman Innovation (Chapter 15, Next-Gen Creativity: Improving the human experience):

Amié: AI systems can also be used to quickly detect online bullying and racism with semantic analysis of social media, words, images and videos.

Chris: What we create with AI is meant to be addictive and not polluting. We must build great things but ensure we are not destroying more than we are creating.

Aimé: Exactly. The advancement of business depends on building upon the old to create the new.

ChrisWith that in mind, human creativity together with computational creativity can counter and defeat ‘heirloom’ beliefs and the ‘curse of knowledge’. Heirloom beliefs stem from a cognitive bias that ‘this is how we’ve always done it’. The curse of knowledge is assuming the audience receiving your message has information they actually may not have.

Aimé: With collective intelligence, creativity can be used for business innovation.

ChrisPrecisely. Human ingenuity plus AI will bring about invention across energy, fashion, finance, pharmaceuticals, recruiting, retail, advertising, art, automotive, aviation, banking, energy, security and sports…

AiméAs we’ve said, we must first learn the rules of human AI alignment, so we can creatively bend, blend, break and build upon them.

Much like the writing process, my use of AI was organic and non-linear and often deployed a layering of different techniques.

In the early-to-mid-2000s we were in a new era of mobile. Clients often asked me to describe how a mobile responsive website or app was built. Before answering, the first thing was always to decide how many technical layers to peel back: what went into the visual design process, which UX tools were used, an explanation of software development codes, how to use iPhone or Android hardware capabilities and components such as chips and geolocation abilities.

The list went on and on.

Today, as in the early days of mobile and wearables, we are going through a similar conversation with the technical building blocks of AI. This lays the AI foundation for strategic and creative discussions on how, when and where to make the best use of the technology.

My general approach when using AI as a co-creation tool for the book Superhuman Innovation began with a fundamental question: what can this specific AI function do and how can it help?

With this focus, I used a number of APIs (application program interfaces). Although they made for a lengthy list, they included everything – from using AI to compose responses on specified topics, the suggestion and prediction of contextual content that might be relevant, translation of multi-language reference materials and then summarization, sentence analysis and separation, constituency parsing to determine sentence structure and meaning, tone analyser to understand emotions and communication style in the text review stage, sentiment analysis to analyse and generate a summary of insights, characteristics and values inherent to the text.

In the context of this book, the AI function – or Aimé – is not a single sourced technology but rather a suite of technologies, many of which are open-source, each building on a different set of concepts, approaches and infrastructures. The conversational agent leverages a number of expert systems using AI and ML techniques such as natural language processing (NLP), natural language understanding (NLU) and natural language generation (NLG) APIs. These techniques allow Aimé to identify, understand and respond to keywords, phrases, ideas and requests, and at times experience instances of recognition and understanding of experiences and reasoning.

The underlying aspects of the AI used in Superhuman Innovation primarily embody three systems:

  • AI voice recognition - enables human-to-system interaction through a voice-user interface (VUI) for tasks such as speech-to-text, text-to-speech, voice editing, formatting, spelling, and sharing documents.

  • AI content understanding and summarization -  reviews and abridges databases, articles or research papers into quick digestible content through approaches such as sentiment analysis, labelling and the organization of higher-level concepts based on contextual understanding.

  • AI content creation and generation - the ability of the system to develop concepts and ideas to aid the content creation process. Writing algorithms to emulate the human writing process helped contribute ideas, titles, content and drafts.

The use of AI technology specifically within higher-level tasks like human creativity may be a provocative notion, but AI can enhance innovation and originality. As a reflection of this interactive conversation with AI about AI, Superhuman Innovation is written in a dialogue format to demonstrate how AI can achieve the seemingly impossible by leveraging technology to solve problems that we can’t solve by ourselves (and to help solve them faster).

For those of you who want to spend less time on tedious tasks and more time doing what you love – this book is for you. For those who want to work smarter in order to be more efficient and effective – this book is for you. For those of you who want to be more successful – this book is for you. AI is the great democratizer in helping you achieve your goals.

Ultimately, Superhuman Innovation is not about what AI can create, but rather what you can create and achieve with AI technology. It is a urgent call-to-action for humanity to invent the future we need; that future generations deserve.  

The future belongs to those who design human experiences that matter.