Russ Neuman Outthinkers Podcast

How Machine Intelligence Will Enhance Strategic Decision-Making

W. Russell Neuman is Professor of Media Technology at New York University and a founding faculty of the MIT Media Lab. He served as a Senior Policy Analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

His books like The Digital Difference: Media Technology and the Theory of Communication Effects and Evolutionary Intelligence: How Technology Will Make Us Smarter are rooted in the view that human intelligence and human communication are intertwined. Language and communication are intrinsically linked to the evolution of human intelligence since the dawn of humankind. As our technologies for communication have advanced over time, so too has the sophistication of our cognitive abilities.

He recently joined the Outthinkers Podcast to offer an interesting glimpse at how human intelligence may next evolve as AI comes into play.

Listen to the episode now.

According to Neuman, we are entering a new age – the era of “Evolutionary Intelligence”. His research reveals how human intelligence has advanced in lockstep with our communication technologies throughout history, from the dawn of language to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI).

For chief strategy officers, understanding this evolutionary trajectory provides a critical lens for how to leverage AI to strengthen strategic planning and execution.

The Evolution of Human Intelligence

From collaborative hunting, to the Industrial Revolution, to the spread of literacy, and now AI, each technological leap has allowed human cognitive abilities to evolve. We are on the cusp of the next major transition – the symbiotic unification of human and machine intelligence.

AI as an Intelligence Multiplier

As Neuman defines it, intelligence is “acting in a way that is thoughtfully responsive to conditions around you to achieve your goals.” While humans are remarkably adaptable, we are also flawed with cognitive biases, risk aversion, and an innate resistance to changing our minds – obstacles that can derail even the most well-planned strategy.

This is where AI’s true potential lies – not replacing human intelligence, but augmenting it at scale by compensating for human shortcomings. AI systems can analyze scenarios objectively, estimate likelihoods across a vast array of data, reveal optimal paths forward, and clearly convey upside/downside risk unclouded by human irrationality and emotion.

Machine-Augmented Strategic Decision-Making

Imagine pitching a new strategic direction to skeptical executives who fixate on a handful of potential risks. While they focus on those, an AI assistant could quantify the probabilities of success and failure across dozens of possible strategic scenarios from your industry and others. Such machine-augmented decision-making allows leadership teams to circumvent blindspots and biases to make more informed choices.

As Neuman states, “We don’t fully understand the environmental changes around us, and we often misperceive them.” The Industrial Revolution transformed the world for 100 years before it was truly recognized. Now, AI’s proliferation is catalyzing an “Evolutionary Intelligence” revolution.

Russ Neuman OUtthinkers podcast quote

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