Robots vs. Humans: Now:
If robots and animals had superior cognitive abilities than us humans, we would not be running the world today. Only humans have the power of imagination, intense curiosity, and can understand the cause and effect scenarios. Only we can contemplate deeply on the meaning of life and understand our ability that we can change our mind if we want to. Only we know what it feels like to be in another person’s shoes.
But if Sunder Pitchai and Google’s AI Assistant Duplex are to be believed, the day Robots are going to take over the world is not too far away. Apparently, work is well under way for AI to pick up nuances in language and subtleties of conversation unlike any other technology that’s been available to date.
Thanks to technology, we have facts and truths at our finger tips. But unlike facts, relationship knowledge is like a divided highway. There’s mutual give and take in the form of emotion exchange. Processing emotions is a special skill we have as humans. But are we using it to our advantage?
Problem with Communication that is linear:
We are living in times when technology has become a means for self expression. We are measuring our social currency in the number of likes and hearts our Instagram or Twitter posts receive. We are becoming masters of content generation and distribution, and our content curation skills are also on the rise. Cue, how many filters and retakes does that one perfect selfie get?
Are we becoming a generation of tech junkies giving props via likes and hearts to others’ artfully curated and crafted social media posts?
The brain is a social organ and it thrives on connection with others. And because social networks readily offer this promise, their lure is undeniable. But, imagine maintaining a social circle of 400 friends in real life. Are we really adding to or replacing relationships using technology as a medium?
There are social skills like empathy and conflict resolutions that are only learnt through physically interacting with others. Touch and sensory exchange is necessary for emotional and social development.
Our communication is becoming more and more linear. We equip ourselves with smileys and emojis and are more creative with our messages than ever before. But our messages have no tone, none of our intended emotion and our intended non verbal cues.
As a result of only exchanging verbal communication, our emotions are not perceived and processed correctly by the receiver. While we continue to communicate this way, we only engage our right brain which is logical and literal. We leave emotion behind, because our brains don’t see the need to read non verbal cues in a text message or a Facebook message.
What is Empathy?
Empathy is how we treat absolute strangers. It is our ability to put ourselves in the situations that others are going through.
When we communicate face to face with others, the mirror neurons in our brains help us deal with the other person’s facial expressions and cues that their body is sending. As our brain interprets this data, our levels of dopamine rise when we hear something nice in what they’re relaying to us. Similarly, there is a spike in the stress hormone, cortisol, when we hear about trauma related events.
This is how we connect. This is how we build out social currency, but being understanding and diplomatic about others emotions and feelings. This is how we find common ground, create rapport and build social networks in real life.
Robots vs. Humans: Near Future:
While humanity is in the throes of technology, robots will overtake us as soon as they learn how to empathize. We’ll lose the battle, if we don’t mend our ways with digital detox and digital minimalism.
Who knows what our future holds for us? Robots might take our legs out for a walk in the woods for us, find our misplaced keys which chips attached to our forgetful brains and also call our mothers using our simulated voices.
But, when your mother answers the phone call, will the robot pick up the nuances and subtleties in her tone enough to understand that she is feeling lonely?