A Human Brain ®Evolution in a Machine Intelligent World - Part I

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via the World Economic Forum blog page

via the World Economic Forum blog page

When I started Freshman year in university in 1997, I couldn’t wait for that year to come to an end and to begin the next year with a formal major in psychology, a subject I had always been fascinated with.

Just when everyone was trying to become a doctor, an engineer or a lawyer - a feat so glorified in the Lebanese culture and community and incentivized by its government, I wanted to become a psychologist. That was a disappointment.

Having problems at home or at work was considered shameful and seeing a therapist for help was taboo. So the commentaries I kept hearing back then were that there was little or no chance that I would get patients at my clinic or be able to make a living out of it.

Only one in ten people actually encouraged me to look into it since it prominently came to me as second nature; but sadly and eventually, I sided with the negative majority.

Twenty-years later, I am writing and giving workshops about positive and cognitive psychology and the world is desperate for better psychological and emotional skills.

While I don’t regret studying the creative field of graphic design and working in marketing and communications, I now understand how negativity can impact one’s lifetime and decisions and how its influence can make us human beings fall short on our dreams and our purpose.

But it’s never too late to turn this around.

Being Human Today

The World Economic Forum calls on human beings to develop and hone the skills of the future such as critical thinking, problem-solving, reasoning, creativity and emotional intelligence - skills that have been overlooked and underestimated for many decades, be it in the workplace, in our communities and in our political and education systems.

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Deloitte’s latest survey results also demonstrate this need for the same skills in the workplace where humans and machine will have to work side by side (Fig. 1 below). But despite this understanding, only 49 percent of respondents said that they will not be investing in cultivating these skills anytime soon, which is rather worrying.

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In a Talk with Google, best-selling author and historian Yuval Noah Harari emphasizes the need for emotional intelligence and mental stability as precursors for the future if we want to be able to “reinvent ourselves” in the face of the unknown.

While Wired co-founder and author Kevin Kelly in this article highlights that the biggest opportunity that artificial or “alien” intelligence (AI) will bring is the continuous exercise to redefine what it is to be human.

Contrary to opposing views, this is great news to some of us, surely me.

Time for a Reboot

Despite the good and progress in the world, we are constantly being exposed to and ruled by corrupt and misguided governments and corporates, poor and immoral leadership, negative and fake news, cyber and physical harassment and terrorism, stupid reality shows and social media challenges.

Simultaneously, our planet and people continue to suffer the symptoms and consequences of climate change, overpopulation, resource depletion, and a possible nuclear war.

When I look back to the Renaissance and Enlightenment eras where we have seen the biggest leaps in human progress and collaboration, I can’t help but think, “why have we arrived here?”.

Have our fears, failures, incompetence, and immaturity activated our survival instincts and negative biases to an unnecessarily higher degree? Is the lack of trust in each other and our inability to control the mess we created all around driving us to create an entity – another “mess” – that may help reduce the impact of our mistakes and eventually the demise of our race?

“Never underestimate [the power of] human stupidity”, Harari said on several occasions. We humans seem to be slowly losing track of who we are as a race, what we are doing on this planet as a species and how we are making decisions in our lives as social beings.

If empowering negativity on social, political and media platforms has not pushed us to greatness as yet, maybe other forms of intelligence will. But why can’t humans still take charge?

Humans have an ability to evolve their mental capacity and start an innate revolution with the power of their thoughts, emotions and faith in each other, something that no machine is capable of doing today or tomorrow.

Human beings can be great again when they learn to understand and manage their evolutionary-built biases, look to the past for inspiration and emulation and realize happiness as the ultimate key to human progress and prosperity.

Stay tuned for more on this in the next blogs.