In this extract from the new Cosmo Tech eBook Reshaping the World with Augmented Intelligence the world of complex systems is explored, the limits of artificial intelligence (AI) are explained, and the demand for Augmented Intelligence is demonstrated. To download the entire eBook, enter your details at the bottom of this post.


The world is full of complex systems with causes and effects that defy human comprehension or calculation.

A program designed to ease famine actually makes the situation worse.

A new metro stop designed to ease traffic congestion does so for a few years, then unexpectedly causes congestion to increase.

A flood in Thailand inundates some factories that produce a single, critical hard drive component for export to China and Japan, causing hard drive prices to spike worldwide.

Even as we understand more and more about the origins of the universe and the inner workings of the atom, complex systems that we encounter every day defy our mastery. If it is your job to make decisions that will shape a city, ensure product delivery, manage a complex stock portfolio, respond to epidemics, or ensure essential utilities keep working in the face of aging infrastructures and external threats, what tools can help you make the best possible decisions?


By design, artificial intelligence mimics human intelligence – but faster and at greater scale.

It has the potential to provide insight and help us overcome challenges in every discipline. But AI won’t help with complex systems.

AI looks at the past, finds correlations, and makes predictions based on those correlations. AI can drive a car more safely than humans because it can more rapidly process more signals in the environment and instantly take the optimal course of action, without hesitation or panic. AI can diagnose illnesses better than humans because it can instantly compare a patient’s condition to the most up-to-date data collected from multiple systems around the world.

But AI is not designed to look at a complex system like a traffic grid and predict the ripple effects of changing the stop light pattern, building a new sports venue, or charging more for parking.

And while AI may detect correlations between ill health and particular diets or environments, it is not designed to look at the human body and understand all the interactions and dependencies – the actual mechanisms – that cause cancer or form tumors.


One form of Augmented Intelligence is using neural chips to connect the brains of individuals to other individuals and AI.

A more practical form of Augmented Intelligence, one available today, is complex systems analysis based on combining multiple and various expert resources with deep algorithms and modeling to enable simulations that can predict possible emergent phenomena – new behaviors or scenarios that arise from the interactions of different systems – as well as cascading effects – the ripple effects of a single decision throughout a connected, complex system.

Complex systems analysis offers an unprecedented ability to understand the impact of specific decisions across even the most complex systems.

Consider officials who must develop plans for responding to an epidemic or bioterrorism attack. They can read reports, convene panels of experts, and consult peers in other countries, but in the face of contradictory ideas and evidence, ultimately, they must “limit the noise” and use their intuition to zero in on the most important factors that will shape the final decision about the best course of action.

But what if instead they could combine all their expert resources – including some they would never have the capacity to consider, such as how immigration or emigration patterns could be a vector for a disease – into a massive model and run sophisticated simulations that show how specific events and decisions might play out – seeing possibilities that no human could ever imagine?


In the same way that relational databases first enabled us to establish links between formerly siloed data to reveal more than what any single dataset could tell us, Augmented Intelligence has the potential to link today’s siloed domains of expertise to explore relationships, detect causes and effects, and make predictions far beyond what individual humans or AI could possibly conceive.


It is designed to help humans make decisions, but it is not magic and it does not have all the answers.

The world – and the people in it – will always surprise us. Augmented Intelligence simulations can include a wider breadth of expertise and uncover a broader range of possible outcomes, but humans will still have to make decisions based on those possibilities. Augmented Intelligence does not replace human intelligence. It supports it.

On the following pages, we will see examples of Augmented Intelligence in action and the potential it has to change the way we view the world and the decisions we make in it…

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