Blog: Episode X — Superhero Lessons In Analytics, Season 2
The Augmented Intelligence Of Tony Stark — From Every Marvel Movie
Tune into almost anything coming out of Marvel these days and you are likely going to get a heavy dose of artificial intelligence, heads up displays, and analytic visualizations courtesy of Tony Stark. Ironman, Avengers, even Spider Man is getting into the act. They include plenty of colorful graphics and fun names like Jarvis, Karen, and Friday.
Of course, if you weren’t paying attention… or too focused on Vision (he is an exception… sort of), you might believe that Tony is the creator of super AI. But Tony Stark’s AI is not really living up to the role created under the banner of our coming AI overlords. For that, you would need to look to Ultron or some other AI bad guy but … spoiler alert … those guys all lose. In these stories, the humans tend to win and not because of artificial intelligence. They win because of augmented intelligence. There is a major difference.
Let’s take a small break from your regularly scheduled episode to talk about very regular people. At this moment, on PS4s, Xbox One X’s, and possibly even a Nintendo Switch or twenty, hundreds of thousands of ordinary people are kicking the snot out of some hapless AI. They are called gamers. And although far too many seem to inhabit dark basements the world over, they are really good at what they do. Which again … is kicking the snot out of AI.
Humans seemed to be born with an amazing ability to exploit the inefficiency in any system. We find flaws, loopholes, and exceptions from birth. Don’t believe me? You must not be a parent. It is what we do. As a result, most AI doesn’t stand a chance.
Oh sure. You can take a complex game like chess and build an AI capable of kicking most people’s … let’s stick to snot. But chess is not a bastion of inefficiency. It is just complex enough to be hard for humans. But with only 16 pieces a side, set rules, and only 64 positions on the board — it is an AI’s dream. People require bigger sandboxes. A good number of us find chess… well, kinda boring.
Now Tony Stark isn’t exactly a gamer, but he is the epitome of the swashbuckling hero sort. Which is to say that he is a natural at exploiting the system, trying the unexpected, and introducing chaos. So why AI?
Simple really, for the boring parts. In the comics, Jarvis is the butler. It was only the movies that transformed him into Just Another Rather Very Intelligent System, but his role is similar. Jarvis cleans up the mess. He does the research that would otherwise bore Tony. Jarvis augments Tony’s intelligence. And unlike Tony, no one is accusing Jarvis of being ADHD.
Sure Jarvis has his pure AI moments. They tend to be the most fictional pieces of these stories. But mostly Jarvis, Karen, and Friday are around to keep our heroes alive long enough to do something insane and spectacular. Which is all rather regular human after all. Mutant powers and super suits are fun toys. AI may augment their intelligence. But Tony and Peter are exceptional (and entertaining) for very human reasons.
And in case you think Tony is alone in his recognition of the power of AI (the augmented sort). Remember, Bruce Banner had a hand to play in the movies as well. Heck, if it weren’t for contracts an timing, Ultron would likely have still been the creation of Hank Pym.
So learn a lesson from Tony Stark, recognize the power of augmented intelligence. It is helpful. It is cool. And it will keep you alive long enough to do something very human… kicking the snot out of someone else’s AI. Just try to come out of the basement every now and then. Or just get one as cool as Tony’s…
Thanks for reading! For more superhero lessons in analytics: