Becoming more human with AI

This article was originally published by Canay Atalay on on the Human Works website.

Becoming More Human with AI

Recently, we are getting used to narrow AI, which is designed to perform a narrow task (e.g. only facial recognition or only internet searches or only driving a car). It is embedded in our smartphones and content services already. But the cool kid of the hype town is general Artificial Intelligence (AGI or strong AI), which may outperform humans at nearly every cognitive task. It triggers all sorts of feelings in me and here is a mere reflection of them:

  • I can’t wait to transfer my boring tasks like scanning through e-mails, blocking marketing calls, filtering search results through oceans of junk content, eliminating notifications of my services without losing important ones, updating software, synching data on multiple devices, the cloud and making sense out of it…
  • I am excited to follow developments of new collaborations between tech giants who used to be only competitors, with open platform examples to all developers and designers around the world, including ordinary citizens to play with AI.
  • When I imagine how AI, combined with quantum computing and neuroscience, can and will change the human race in the near future, I feel overwhelmed with the possible scenarios! What are the advantages of upgrading ourselves? What diseases can we cure? How can we create a global health system? What are the things we might trigger as unexpected bad outcomes – like every time we mess with our nature? What if our bodies can be hacked?
  • I feel angry when I observe us running the risk of further exacerbating gender inequalities, creating a future that perpetuates social injustice and empowers the high-tech world to continue to be like an all-boy video game culture club that ultimately hurts women, families and our future, as stated by Michael Spencer in ‘Women May be the Real Losers in AI Automation’.
  • I am anxious about how governments, business leaders and society will adjust to the further automation of AI, which might mean the disappearance of 800 million jobs until 2030. How social systems will adapt to it and how we will design ‘humanist futures’ for all? On the other hand, multinational corporations will hold control and access to AI technology in the future and their arguments show they are protecting their shareholders’ benefits first. Who will be the owners or earners from this technology that will impact every child born on this planet?
  • Robots reading emotions and developing emotions give me the chills; they are designed and marketed to be friends for lonely people or take care of children and the elderly. This is when we confuse the frequency of automatic engagement with deep social human relations. We see a similar trend today; many teenagers are becoming unhappier with a tendency to self-harm, mainly caused by the top 4 social media platforms. Economists found that spending just one hour a day on social networks reduces the probability of a child being completely happy with his or her life overall by around 14%.
  • With AI, not only our social relations and self-perceptions will be shattered, but our work and life designs too. This time I am joyful that we are forced to change our vision of work & life, redesign our future jobs with more human tasks that cannot be automated by machines, including skills like creativity, critical thinking and social skills. It is our chance to break free and claim back our humanity!
  • I am most curious about how we will use AI to change learning systems, it is past time to wipe out all destructive traces of the 19th-century education system and remove the biggest barriers that stand between us and our potential as humanity. But will artificial intelligence software in education mean that potentially every child will have the same opportunities to learn and grow? A just society means that all children are treated equally and receive a quality modern education irrespective of their wealth, culture or religion. Could AI do this? Could a just society make education the foundation for preventing radicalisation? How would it transform humanity? As Alan Kay said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Invent your own learning program with our ‘9 principles to design the future of learning’.
  • I am horrified when I see leaders posting about possible world war scenarios amplified by artificial intelligence and details of autonomous weapons. I won’t write anything about it here because it is stupid to repeat the same mistakes of history with these super shiny new tools. Search about it if you are interested, there seems to be no shortage of scaremongers.
  • I am hopeful that by using big data, AI could one day identify trends and use that information to come up with solutions to the world’s biggest problems like war, disease, poverty and climate change. The creation of strong AI might be the biggest event in human history. It is hard to estimate how fast AI will progress. But moving from captioning images to tackling poverty and climate change requires serious transformation on purely human-designed systems, too.
So how do we take that grand leap?

AIs, like children, learn step-by-step, first with baby steps which then can turn to big jumps with an accelerated speed we have never experienced before. As parents to AI, what we do/ need to do is to align the goals of the AI with our (righteous and intrinsic) goals and we reflect our (enhanced) intelligence to machines. AI not only learns from human masters but potentially from everything that happens. They also learn from each other through neural networks, which are seen as the most important AI trend. The more data you can feed them, the more accurate they become! AI is role-modelling humans and as parents of AI, we may wake up one day and wondering what happened to our little ones, either with pride/hope or shame/fear. The outcomes that AI will give birth to depend on our input along the way.

As humans we are not very efficient creatures, we don’t utilise most of our brains, and even if we have all the inputs of what’s right for us (basic list being: breathe, drink water, eat well, be around people whom you love and socialise) we have a tendency to sabotage ourselves and others. Just look at what we are doing to the environment, animals and fellow humans. Will AI motivate us to become better humans? When the remote of AI superpowers is in our hands, will we wake up to the urgency of the matter? Will we finally realise we all are responsible today and do what’s right for our/ our children’s future design?

If you say ‘YES’, that’s great! Keep on reading:

Let’s start with being conscious leaders and adjusting goals. Do not depend on business plans, start designing and innovating your business models based on human values and purpose with exponential technologies. As Human Works Design, we run Conscious Business Model Design and Innovation (CBMDI) workshops for any endeavour that wants to innovate by creating value for their employees, customers, communities and greater ecosystem.

CBMDI is a new approach for leaders and game-changers of tomorrow, combining exponential technologies, design thinking, strategy, practical philosophy, new economies and social impact. We work on alternative future scenarios, help transforming cultures towards being more innovative and design exponential partnerships. We facilitate learning programs for leaders and employees to be ready for their human roles with skills and capabilities like ethics, design thinking, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. Start learning about AI today, design and execute with human intelligence and consciousness.

Consciousness starts with being aware of ourselves. As Jeff Lieberman suggests in his TEDx Cambridge Talk ‘Maybe I am not a human being that has consciousness, maybe I am the consciousness that is shaped into a human being.’ Knowing our human form beyond algorithms is essential for all leaders of tomorrow. As humans, we have unique experiences that cannot be replicated or replaced by machines. They are triggered by art, beauty, creativity, sports, engaging in social interactions like dialogues, hugging a loved one or philosophising. These are the keys to designing good lives today and tomorrow.

What do you want to do with AI to make it a good life for yourself and future generations, for the children of this world? What if we could erase human suffering? What if we felt fulfilled with life and work? What if with ultimate connectedness and vast data analysis, we finally understood the fact that we are NOT separate from the world, from each other, from other species and from the Mother Earth? What if by looking at the mirror of AI, we became more conscious of our purpose and impact? What if humanity had a chance to restart itself, free from the prisoners’ dilemmas in the economy and the war industry? Then, dear fellow humans, what kind of a world would it be?

Your answers to these questions are the possibilities of enhanced humanity, powered by technology. If you are designing/ deciding with AI, ask yourself ‘How can we become better humans with technology?’

To achieve this, here is my final suggestion:

‘Focus on a children first world design, put children first, their dreams, needs, wellbeing, include them in your designs and give them a voice. Their compass will guide you to meaningful, humanist futures with timeless and sustainable visions for all of us.’ #childrenfirst

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