Go back 10-20 years ago, and Artificial Intelligence (or ‘AI’) seemed like little more than a hype word. Comparisons between machine learning and humans wouldn’t have even made sense. Fast forward to the current day, and we’ve got ChatGPT writing essays, AI images winning art competitions — and, in some ways, AI is even exceeding human cognition.
The data comes from 2021 research and zooms in on five domains:
- handwriting recognition;
- speech recognition;
- image recognition;
- reading comprehension;
- language understanding.
The research benchmarked the performance of AI models and compared it with human performance in several tests. In all five domains, AI showed remarkable performance and even managed to exceed human ability in a benchmark test.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that AI is strictly better than humans at these tasks. Outside of tests, in the real world, AI can fail in spectacular ways, and humans are adaptable and robust.
Adding to that, many commonly used benchmarks do a poor job of estimating real-world AI performance. In fact, the above-mentioned study was motivated by the goal of creating better benchmarks for measuring AI performance.
But this does show the remarkable progress of AI and how it’s coming closer and closer to human cognition in some regards.
AI technology has made spectacular progress over the past two decades, finding applications in many different domains. Until a few years ago, there was also relatively little investment in the technology — but that’s starting to change. And, as the money continues to pour in, we can probably expect more impressive progress.
The convergence of AI and human cognition offers a fascinating glimpse into a world where machines assist, augment, and sometimes even surpass human capabilities. But this is not a contest. We’re not competing with AI. AI is a tool crafted by human ingenuity, and we can use it to continue growing and creating amazing things.
But every stride that AI takes also reminds us of how many of our cognitive abilities may not be that unique after all — and that we don’t even understand our abilities all that well.