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By now, most people have heard of machine learning, artificial intelligence, automation. In order to properly utilize each one, however, it is important to have a deeper understanding of what they are and how they are different from each other. Without that, it is unlikely that businesses will be able to utilize each to their full potential.

Intelligence and automation, in particular, are strongly connected but are not the same thing. In order to get the most from automation, you have to understand the role that intelligence plays. Here is an overview of automation and intelligence – what they are and how they are different.


One of the best ways to understand the link between intelligence and automation is to think about the things you do every day versus doing a new thing. For instance, if you go to the same coffee shop every day and order the same thing, then eventually when you walk in the door, the barista automatically begins making your drink for you. You don’t have to think about where you want to get your morning coffee from or spend time browsing the menu. You have done the same thing so many times that your every action, from turning on the streets that lead you to the coffee shop to the order that you place, are all automatic.

That is automation. It requires no “thought” or decision making. Automation, or the process of doing the same thing every time, again and again, saves time, but setting up automation requires intelligence.


Now imagine that your regular coffee shop closes down, forcing you to go find a new one. Going to a new coffee shop will entail the creation of a whole new process, starting with determining and navigating a new route. You may use intelligent technology such as Google maps to determine the best route. You may want to evaluate the menu more carefully to see if there are other selections that might be more appealing. The pricing structure may even be different, so you might want to do a quick cost-benefit analysis to determine if you are really ordering optimally.

Eventually, over time, all of these tasks will again become automated, but changing the automation requires the use of intelligence to determine the optimal choices that will eventually become rote actions.