The symbiotic future of Artificial Intelligence

Dan Burrus, the technology forecaster speaks about artificial intelligence, multiplying time, and taking our humanity back.

“If someone you know has cancer, would you rather have a really good oncologist, just the super computer, or option three, a really good oncologist who has access to the super computer?” — DB (image credit: rawpixel on Unsplash)

People focus too much on the technology itself rather than looking at how we use the technology. We can use technology to save time or to multiply time, or we can use it poorly. That’s when we find it filling our time.

When you cook using a microwave you are literally multiplying the time you have to fulfil other tasks. If we look at an emerging technology like AI, then we see another very effective way to multiply our time.

If AI can do things like handle admin, automate logistics, do repeat orders and pay vendors it will have significant rewards for its users in that it will allow them to maximise the time spent on tasks which are better suited for humans- like strategy or problem-solving, or um, fishing.

There are many different types of AI. Aside from multiplying time, AI can be used for anything from piloting drones to detecting skin cancer. The most effective way of using AI will be a method I call symbiotic computing.

Symbiotic computing a term that I borrowed from biology to describe the relationship we have with AI. With symbiosis in nature you have two separate creatures that can’t survive without each other. As we go forward we are going to have a symbiotic relationship with AI. A good example of this is that IBM’s Watson computer, it has more recorded information about oncology than any individual oncologist. But if someone you know has cancer, would you rather have a really good oncologist, just the super computer, or option three, a really good oncologist who has access to the super computer? The answer is obvious.

The people who work with AI won’t have to teach it to work better, the AI will just do the learning. This is already happening with transport, if you drive a Tesla, then everything the car experiences is fed into the cloud. I don’t have to teach it, the car just learns by me doing. So in the same way the more people use ANNA the better, more efficient and more able to solve unique problems it will be.

ANNA Money’s chat interface

A key quality is that ANNA’s messaging will have humans behind it as well for the more complex tasks. The customers won’t simply be talking to a computer. Human operators will help the AI along. And these humans will gather more insights with the information the AI will gather, and allow us to multiply time all the better.

Humans like fancy, shiny new things. We like to play, and we often get seduced into using digital in a way that isn’t even good for us, if we are thinking about excessive use of social media. But I think that we can be too fatalistic about our use of technology, it’s not the technology, it’s how you use it. We need to fix the problem rather than fixing the blame.

Daniel Burrus is considered one of the World’s Leading Futurists on Global Trends and Innovation. He is the author of six books, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller Flash Foresight: How To See The Invisible and Do The Impossible, as well as the international best-seller Technotrends.


ANNA is a business finance assistant that makes time for you.

Our service helps small businesses do their finance admin, from managing invoices to every day spending, leaving you to get on with whatever you prefer doing. You get an ANNA Business Mastercard®, a business account number and sort code, and an app.