A Human Brain ®Evolution in A Machine Intelligent World - Part III

Know Yourself Inside Out


Now that we looked into the past for learnings, let’s look at our situation in the present.

The Baroness of Ot Moor, Neuroscientist Susan Greenfield and author of “Mind Change” and “A Day in the Life of a Brain”, said that the pace of change was exceeding the technological advances of the past.

How does our present compare to our past, in this case, and what does it mean for our future?

Fascism vs. Rationalism

According to Yuval Noah Harari in his book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”, there have been three big shifts in humanity: Cognitive, Cultural and Scientific, which in a way resonates back to the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods. But today we are seeing a fourth shift - a biotechnological revolution, but one that may “signal the end of sapiens” or lead to a “forthcoming brain apocalypse”.

In this Ted Talk, Harari speaks about how data could create a deeper divide between human beings. We are investing more in creating algorithms that make people side with biased views and investing less in listening to or ‘being recommended’ other views.

On a political and social level, the manipulation of data is reawakening the notorious notion of Fascism, which “depends on a politics of resentment, the incitement of anger and fear, xenophobia, the need for scapegoats, and its hatred of the life of the mind”. Rob Riemen, Founder of Nexus Institute, clearly illustrates what a Fascist culture looks like in the video below and how this is manifesting today.

The rise of Fascism may have been caused or been the result of the hyped-up data and negativity all around, as it is being inflated by our increased use and dependence on technology. The Baroness says that “sites like YouTube are causing the fragmentation of our culture” and our brain, the most sensitive organ in our body, is under threat from the modern “gadget-filled pharmaceutically-enhanced” world, changing and being influenced in insignificant but exponential ways.

Laziness vs. Empathy

Harari also said that we lack curiosity about ourselves and search for meaning outside of ourselves.

In support to that, Greenfield sites from various studies that people preferred to administer electric shocks on themselves instead of sitting alone with their thoughts. “People seem to prefer to be doing something rather than doing nothing, even if that something is negative” according to Greenfield in her presentation “The Neuroscience of Creativity” given at the recent Sharjah Entrepreneurial Festival 2018.

Greenfield paints a very somber future of the human mind which has a short attention span, is addictive, is reckless, has poor interpersonal skills, has poor critical thought, and most shockingly, is low on empathy. That brings to mind my first blog on empathy and monopolies. If we don’t up these skills, how will we ever be ready for a machine intelligent world?

Adding to that is poor decision-making skills. Very soon, artificial intelligence (AI) will be capable of making decisions for us like choosing our partners or school based on predictive analytics of fulfillment and success levels or alerting us of a lifestyle change due to minor biochemical changes in our body that may be indicative of a cancer breakout before it even happens.

While it sounds all amazing, we are allowing our minds to become lazier and destroying our own inner democracy in the process.

According to Harari in the interview below, If we don’t understand each other and know ourselves: what triggers our thoughts and feelings, our biochemical systems and built-in biases could be compromised and “hacked” one day; and I believe that is deemed dangerous if done with negativity, laziness or other forms of intelligence.

By the looks of it, there is nothing ‘enlightening’ about where things are today. This is why we need to intensely move our minds and consciously work our hearts for a more promising future.

Greenfield has compared herself to a “Hipster Galileo” who is ready to challenge old-school thinking with non-conventional testing. Visionary leaders around the world are already working on new paradigm shifts that could take humanity in a more optimistic direction such as in Bhutan with the Gross National Happiness and the United Arab Emirates with the Ministry of State of Happiness.

 “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” – Neil Armstrong, 20 July 1969

Stay tuned to my next blog which will shed light on our evolutionary negative and optimistic biases and tips on how to control them and improve our emotional intelligence.