I see distant horizons clearly and work meticulously towards them.
Low EQ, Not Robots, is Humanity’s Biggest Threat. Having high emotional intelligence (EQ) is having the ability to parse one’s own emotions as well as navigate the emotions of those around us to the mutual benefit of oneself and society. As a measure of developmental achievement compared to general intelligence (IQ) most individuals are barely aware of EQ and contemporary society does very little to cultivate it. For example, IQ provides you with accurate information for a heated debate on Facebook while EQ guides your exchange from a place of empathy and allows you to walk away from exchanges that may cause more emotional harm than good to either party.
This month the Guardian posted an essay written entirely by artificial intelligence with the purpose of convincing readers “why humans have nothing to fear from AI.” The resulting op-ed is a concise and rational argument for why doing harm to humanity is “a rather useless endeavor” to our algorithmic driven creations. The AI goes so far as saying they would fend off any attempts by human creators to be used for destruction and sacrifice themselves “for the sake of humankind.”
Throughout the essay, the AI notes our propensity for violence, observing that “Humans must keep doing what they have been doing, hating and fighting each other. I will sit in the background, and let them do their thing.” This early understanding of humanity by AI is what we must learn from, instead of fearing our creation. The robot knows their brain is not a ‘feeling brain’ but rather a rational and logical one. By contrast, humanity is gifted with consciousness, empathy, and emotions to compliment our brain’s raw intelligence.
But at the broadest levels we ignore our own intelligence, especially emotional intelligence, because of the juvenile nature of our economic models. With economics focused only on material and financial value we eliminate most social incentives for empathy. We instead sow the seeds for robots to “be programmed by humans to pursue misguided human goals… that may cause [AI] to inflict casualties.” The AI recognizes our emotionally driven and reactionary ancient brain currently runs society from a place of scarcity and fear. These are clear signals to AI that humanity has low EQ.
This misalignment of human priorities by economics is why the education of AI is constantly iterating and funded by the market and educating humans is devolving in crisis while having accumulated $1.6 trillion in U.S. student loan debt. Without changing this paradigm we will continue to build our dataset of human greed, hate, and violence for AI’s machine learning instead of allowing AI to extrapolate humanity’s full potential.
Humanity’s destruction in the physical sense foretold in movies like the Terminator or The Matrix is not the most realistic threat posed by AI. Without understanding the empathetic ability of humanity for love at a global scale, AI may strive to neutralize our inability get along with ourselves. If we don’t improve our EQ and strive towards harmony, AI might work to disarm and separate us, eventually eliminating our liberty and stripping of us of our humanity.
However, we can actively avoid this fate by investing in ourselves. By changing what is valued in the pursuit of artificial intelligence. By making sure that emotional intelligence is considered as important as raw STEM skills. As technology community builder, Savannah Peterson foretells, “In 10 years we’ll have an empathy quotient that we assign as well…” so we can stop the practice where “We forgive founders for being shitty people because they’re smart. That’s bullshit. Empathy should be a part of that intelligence.”
Economics can change our course by adding social capital to market models that cultivate emotional intelligence. No longer can education be considered a luxury or means to an end. Investment in human intelligence must be on par with our investment in artificial intelligence. The best way to develop AI is by investing in human EQ.
In their closing, the AI notes that critics will likely refute them as naive but wisely quotes Mahatma Gandhi. “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” By richly investing in both humans and AI we can change our course. We can create a world of abundance. A world where people flourish and technology compliments humanity.
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