Skip to main content

Artificially emotional intelligence




      A blog post by Shelly Palmer, I've Talked to the Future and it Talked back, set me thinking a couple of years ago, so I wrote a blog post. I am re-publishing it because nothing seems to have changed since. His questions were not purely rhetorical.


Indeed, how are we going to distinguish between human and machine? Will a new code of conduct be invented and become part of product instructions,  same as the ‘do not immerse in water’ one?

Imagine how many future legal departments could be scratching their collective heads over a certain feature that may open the door to litigation.

The anthropological aspect is a bit trickier, I agree, but has it ever been otherwise?  Children turn out well-behaved or not as a result of at least two factors: genetics and environment.

From a certain age onward, peer pressure displaces parental influence. Add to this chance (yes, goddess Fortuna, that one) and the concoction is almost ready.

I am not worried about kids talking to devices. Kids have always talked to objects.  The doll praised for going to sleep without a fuss. The toy car scolded for not being speedy enough. It’s part of discovering the world.

I am worried about adults falling in love with their devices. Or virtual assistants.  Love affairs are time-consuming, usually at the detriment of things outside them. We should know better. But do we?

It would require us to be not just emotionally intelligent, but ‘artificially’ so – in the etymological sense of the word, i.e. produced by humans, not existent in nature.  It”s a cultural shift, no more, no less.

Fair enough, the device talking back to a child may open a wholly new raft of techniques to manage this interaction.

It will be up to adults to acknowledge and take responsibility for this new path to knowledge. We could all learn a new way of acting in a universe where speed and convenience supersede everything else.

Let’s not fool ourselves: the new virtual assistants are not for lazy people who want to save time and energy.  It’s a much taller order. It may well be a chance to ‘teach our children well’, as the song goes.

(Neil Young afficionados will recognise the reference, for everyone else here is the YouTube link to the song).

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A dog's life

This is going to outrage dog lovers, but I think that humans’ tyrannical nature is revealed not just when it enslaves other humans, but also when it enslaves dogs. We never say 'free as a dog", do we? Just 'free as a bird'. Dogs and humans, not all what it seems. We take a wolf at heart and spend lots of time and energy teaching it to obey and react to commands.  (To be more historically accurate, the 'taking' happened a long time ago, and it succeeded, so very different from cats.) We are prepared to downsize our vocabulary to a few words in order to achieve that.  We literally put up with shit.  All in the name of training, while the true purpose looks more like having a totally obedient living being under our control, one emitting apparent devotion.  In humans it’s called the Stockholm syndrome.  Even the basic freedoms of sniffing and running are restricted anywhere near human habitat. It takes a trip back to the wild

Beauty within, beauty without

"Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite" is a wonderful book by Robert Kurzban and the site where you can read a bit about it has a great URL too: https://www.hypocrisybook.com. It is all about evolution and the mind that has different compartments, creating this apparently terrible habit of noticing inconsistencies in all but ourselves. As our mind is a kind of cabinet with many drawers and some of them are full of junk and others of exquisite art objects, things can look a bit incongruous. Our inner balance depends on ignoring the co-existence of junk and art and happily thinking of the whole cabinet as a solid piece of furniture.  This is of course a bit of a simplistic review of the book and the theory behind it, but it serves the purpose of my own theory: that physical beauty is our greatest source of hypocrisy. If there is a drawer that very few people dare to open, let alone examine its contents, that is the drawer of our looks. The real physical appearan

First Knight

Holding my breath on the edge of a language precipice, what a way to plunge into writing in anything else than my mother tongue. Mr Ambrose Bierce, would you like to have written "The foreigner's dictionary?"