Passive A.I. vs. Active A.I.

June 15th, 2018 in

A.I., or artificial intelligence, is a hot topic these days but it’s not a new one.  A.I. has been around us and in use as consumers for a number of years now, but it wasn’t labelled as such.  It provides significant value in terms of time and automation.  It automates all types of basic functions like analytics and discovery.  It saves us time because it helps uncover nuggets of wisdom as well as shortens the process of discovery.  It can help you get from point a to point b and it can help improve your daily rigamarole.  In fact, the labelling of A.I. is simply not accurate enough.  To be accurate we should dive one layer deeper and differentiate between two primary types of A.I. that you have in your life – Passive A.I. and Active A.I.

Passive A.I.

Passive A.I. is what you’ve been using for years but rarely if ever called it out as such. Passive A.I. refers to the kinds of machine learning and automation applied to consumers which they do not activate and assert control over in the form of a request or specific engagement but likely provides a lot of value.  Passive A.I. has been developed and used in the background for years in some of the best-known tools and services you use every day.  Examples of Passive A.I. can be seen in day-to-day consumer tools such as Google, Netflix, Spotify, Amazon and in devices like your iPhone or Android phone.

  • Google: search auto-fill, delivery of targeted ads.
  • Netflix or Spotify: entertainment recommendations.
  • Amazon: product recommendations.
  • iPhone or Android: auto-fill on search, recommended apps, searching for wifi.

Many of the Passive A.I. tools are features baked into some other system.  The recommendations and auto-fills are part of a larger, broader suite of tools and products.

Active A.I.

Active A.I. is different because you have to take an action to invoke it.  It’s more assertive for the consumer.  Active A.I. refers to tools and services that a user activates through a request, like voice commands, or through an initiation of some kind.  This is typically looked at as being available through connected devices and voice assistants and is rapidly expanding to include autonomous cars and the like.  Examples include:

  • IBM’s Watson
  • Salesforce’s Einstein
  • Amazon’s Alexa
  • Microsoft’s Cortana
  • Voicera’s Eva
  • Apple’s Siri

Active A.I. is more of a platform unto itself.  It is typically consumer facing and is recently being integrated more at work as well as a point of differentiation for existing companies with a strong installed based to battle their competition.

The Growth Of A.I. Creates Opportunity For You

Companies are integrating A.I. via both methods at an astonishing clip.  Over the next few years in a business environment as well as a consumer environment, more companies will be integrating Passive A.I. into their systems to automate basic tasks and increase the efficiency of their offerings while more Active A.I. tools and services will also be made available.  Passive A.I. can be considered a tool to increase the effectiveness and/or stickiness of a basic product or service whereas Active A.I. can be considered something a user selects that creates a higher value perception while also increasing the effectiveness of the product or service.  Passive A.I. is subtle whereas Active A.I. is more in-your-face and causes increased consumer engagement.  The integration of more of these technologies between consumers and brands can cause a sharp rise in the volume of engagement with A.I., radically changing the landscape for technology.

The increased role of A.I. has clear outcomes that will radically change the ways we interact with technology.  As an example, here are some of the possible outcomes that consumers will face:

  • A radical decrease in time spent with screens as users become more engaged in Active A.I. through voice.  Voice becomes the UI for A.I. and people will have less of a need to look at a device when they can ask it to do something, like take an action or read something aloud.  It creates a stickier experience between the consumer and the brand or product, but it removes the need to visibly see the product.
  • A significant increase in the efficiency of technology-driven organizations and services is a clear benefit as consumers can say exactly what they need while products and services can provide exactly what their audience is looking for.  It’s a simple value exchange that reduces time spent.
  • A decrease in the number of “fingers on keyboards” to operate basic tasks and a reallocation or retraining of knowledge workers to more advanced tasks and responsibilities.  This can be referred to as the reprioritization of your day.  You can put your time against more valuable efforts while decreasing the amount of time against less efficient, more mundane tasks that typically take you away from the larger, more impactful items.

These two elements of A.I. are going to have an impact.  Passive A.I. in the background vs. Active A.I. that is user selected.  This also gives users the chance to determine how much automation they want in their lives since the Active A.I. is self-selected.

I don’t think anyone can argue with these benefits.  Do you?

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