Artificial vs. Augmented Intelligence

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Terms like artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented intelligence are often used interchangeably. However, they represent fundamentally different approaches to utilizing technology, especially when it comes to data governance. Understanding these differences is crucial for organizations looking to implement non-invasive and effective data governance frameworks. This article explores the distinctions between artificial intelligence and augmented intelligence, focusing on their roles in data governance and how they can be leveraged without disrupting existing workflows. 

What Is Artificial Intelligence? 

Artificial intelligence refers to the development of computer systems capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. These tasks include understanding natural language, recognizing patterns, solving problems, and making decisions. AI systems operate autonomously, using algorithms and vast datasets to learn and improve over time. In data governance, AI can automate processes such as data classification, anomaly detection, and policy enforcement, significantly reducing the need for human intervention. 

Benefits and Challenges of AI in Data Governance 

The primary benefit of AI in data governance is its ability to handle large volumes of data with speed and accuracy. AI systems can quickly identify patterns and inconsistencies that might be missed by human analysts. For example, AI can automatically flag data entries that do not comply with established standards, ensuring data quality and consistency. Additionally, AI can enhance compliance by continuously monitoring data activities and ensuring they adhere to regulatory requirements. 

However, the implementation of AI in data governance is not without challenges. One of the main concerns is the potential for disruption. AI systems often require significant changes to existing workflows and processes, which can be met with resistance from employees. Moreover, the autonomous nature of AI can lead to a lack of transparency and accountability, as decisions made by AI systems may not always be easily understood or explained by humans. This “black box” issue can be problematic in highly regulated industries where accountability and auditability are critical. 

What Is Augmented Intelligence? 

Augmented intelligence, on the other hand, takes a more collaborative approach. Instead of replacing human intelligence, it aims to enhance it by providing tools and insights that support human decision-making. Augmented Intelligence leverages AI technologies to process and analyze data, but it keeps humans in the loop, allowing them to make the final decisions. This approach is particularly beneficial in data governance, where human expertise and contextual understanding are invaluable. 

Practicality of Augmented Intelligence in Data Governance 

The primary advantage of augmented intelligence is its non-invasive nature. By integrating AI tools into existing workflows, it minimizes disruptions and leverages the expertise of individuals who are already in positions of authority and subject matter expertise. For instance, data stewards and analysts can use AI-powered tools to gain insights and identify data quality issues, but they remain responsible for interpreting the results and taking appropriate actions. 

Augmented intelligence fosters a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement. By empowering employees with advanced tools, it enhances their ability to manage and govern data effectively. This approach not only improves data quality and compliance, but also promotes a sense of ownership and accountability among employees. Furthermore, by keeping humans involved in the decision-making process, augmented intelligence ensures transparency and traceability, which are essential for maintaining trust and meeting regulatory requirements. 

Implementing Augmented Intelligence in Data Governance 

Consider an organization that needs to improve its data quality and compliance but wants to avoid the disruptions associated with a full-scale AI implementation. By adopting augmented intelligence, the organization can integrate AI tools into its existing data governance framework. These tools can assist data stewards in identifying data quality issues, generating reports, and suggesting remediation actions. However, the data stewards retain control over the final decisions, ensuring that the governance processes remain aligned with the organization’s goals and regulatory requirements. 

In this scenario, the organization benefits from the speed and accuracy of AI while maintaining the critical human oversight needed for effective data governance. The data stewards can focus on high-value tasks such as interpreting data insights and making strategic decisions, rather than getting bogged down in manual data processing. 

Comparing AI and Augmented Intelligence in Data Governance 

When comparing artificial intelligence and augmented intelligence in the context of data governance, it is essential to consider their respective impacts on workflows and employee roles. AI’s ability to automate complex tasks can lead to significant efficiency gains, but it can also result in resistance due to the changes it necessitates. In contrast, augmented intelligence’s collaborative approach ensures a smoother integration with existing processes, making it a more practical choice for organizations looking to enhance data governance without causing major disruptions. 

Augmented intelligence aligns more closely with the principles of Non-Invasive Data Governance (NIDG), which emphasizes leveraging existing roles and responsibilities rather than imposing new structures. This alignment makes augmented intelligence an attractive option for organizations that value employee engagement and seek to minimize the upheaval associated with technological change. 

The Future of Data Governance 

As technology continues to evolve, the distinction between artificial intelligence and augmented intelligence will become increasingly important for data governance. Organizations will need to carefully consider their goals, existing workflows, and regulatory requirements when choosing between these approaches. While AI offers powerful capabilities for automation and efficiency, augmented intelligence provides a balanced approach that enhances human decision-making and maintains transparency and accountability. 

In the future, we can expect to see more organizations adopting hybrid models that combine the strengths of both AI and augmented intelligence. By doing so, they can achieve the benefits of automation while ensuring that human expertise and oversight remain integral to the data governance process. This hybrid approach will likely become the norm, providing organizations with the flexibility and adaptability needed to navigate the complex landscape of data governance. 


Understanding the differences between artificial intelligence and augmented intelligence is crucial for effective data governance. While AI offers significant advantages in terms of automation and efficiency, its implementation can be disruptive and may lack transparency. Augmented intelligence, on the other hand, enhances human decision-making and integrates seamlessly with existing workflows, making it a more practical and non-invasive approach. By leveraging the strengths of both approaches, organizations can improve data quality, compliance, and overall governance while maintaining the essential human element in the decision-making process. As we move forward, the successful integration of AI and augmented intelligence will be key to navigating the evolving challenges of data governance. 

Non-Invasive Data Governance™ is a trademark of Robert S. Seiner / KIK Consulting & Educational Services 

Copyright © 2024 – Robert S. Seiner and KIK Consulting & Educational Services 

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Robert S. Seiner

Robert S. Seiner

Robert (Bob) S. Seiner is the President and Principal of KIK Consulting & Educational Services and the Publisher Emeritus of The Data Administration Newsletter. Seiner is a thought-leader in the fields of data governance and metadata management. KIK (which stands for “knowledge is king”) offers consulting, mentoring and educational services focused on Non-Invasive Data Governance, data stewardship, data management and metadata management solutions. Seiner is the author of the industry’s top selling book on data governance – Non-Invasive Data Governance: The Path of Least Resistance and Greatest Success (Technics Publications 2014) and the followup book - Non-Invasive Data Governance Strikes Again: Gaining Experience and Perspective (Technics 2023), and has hosted the popular monthly webinar series on data governance called Real-World Data Governance (w Dataversity) since 2012. Seiner holds the position of Adjunct Faculty and Instructor for the Carnegie Mellon University Heinz College Chief Data Officer Executive Education program.

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