Education Trends: Can Artificial Intelligence Make Us More Human?

6 min read

Edition: March 28, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

The prospect of becoming more human thanks to a machine seems to be the most exciting horizon that AI can cross. (Image Credit: Canva)

The whole thrust of the field of artificial intelligence (AI) is to make machines interact with us more like humans. In practical terms this involves building a computer or robotic device that can take over a human task and do it just as well or better. But how often do we ask the opposite question: Can AI make us more human?

This is an endlessly fascinating question once you go into it.

DEEPAK CHOPRA MD, FACP– He is the founder of The Chopra Foundation and Chopra Global. He is also a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego. He has authored over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers.

The reason a machine isn’t human is that it has no interior life — it has no experience at all, while a person’s inner life is the source of everything human.

Everything going on “in here” is overwhelming. We constantly think, feel, perceive, worry, dream, wish, remember, create, on and on.

Even the most optimistic AI proponent cannot foresee a computer or robot that does any of these things, so how can it make us more human?

In the realm of physical health.

  • There are already wearables that can give minute-by-minute biologic readouts.
  • These readouts are comparable to medical tests that would otherwise require a great deal more time to conduct and analyze by going to a doctor.
  • Already you can use a wearable to monitor blood pressure, heart rate variability, blood sugar, respiration, and sleep.
  • These are among the most important vital statistics you can know about yourself.
  • So simple monitoring is clearly a plus in the AI column.

To provide biofeedback.

  • A wearable can beep to signal when you are stressed or have a spike in blood pressure etc.
  • When you hear a beep, you consciously improve your situation right away by getting away from the stressor and meditating to calm down.
  • A more advanced response is biofeedback, meaning that you allow the autonomic nervous system to correct it for you.
  • This approach holds great promise in promoting positive, life-affirming qualities of life.
  • There are markers for feeling at your best and even joyful.
  • If a wearable beeped when you reached such a peak moment in your day, such as an experience of love, creativity, compassion, or insight, your nervous system can be unconsciously trained to favour that state.
  • Returning to it more easily and correcting any vital signs that moved in the wrong direction.

Many AI companies are working in this direction. Even though stress is psychological as well as physical, the psychological side of AI is murky, for two reasons:

  1. A machine cannot feel an emotion; therefore, it doesn’t know what it means to be carried away by love, anger, jealousy, compassion, etc.
  2. A machine cannot suddenly behave unpredictably as a human does.

Yet the psychological side of AI holds unexpected promise.

AI to forecast emotional outbursts.

  • One can imagine a wearable that can warn in advance that you are about to lose your temper (the physical signs aren’t difficult to measure).
  • In our emotional life, emotions come to the surface after brimming beneath the surface.
  • An AI device could step in early enough, at the tipping point before you consciously register that you are angry, anxious, depressed etc. to warn you beforehand.
  • If you can catch the biological, pre-conscious indicators early enough, and you can consciously stop yourself from going over the edge.

A good example on a grosser level is the relationship between sleep and depression.

Someone subject to bouts of chronic depression can use poor sleep as a reliable indicator. It is much easier to manage sleep than it is to manage depression once it has started.

To help us be more aware of ourselves.

  • You cannot change what you aren’t aware of.
  • The fact that a wearable could beep just before you lose your temper gives your awareness an opening for a conscious choice.
  • It seems odd that an AI device with zero awareness can make you more aware, but anger management is one example.
  • Decades ago, software programs were written to mimic the typical things a psychotherapist says (e.g., How are you feeling right now? When did you start feeling depressed?)
  • Users of these programs started to report improvements in their psychological state comparable to visiting a real therapist.
  • Partly because they got a chance to vent without fear or judgement; partly the software gave the illusion that they were being listened to.
  • Yet one can imagine a more sophisticated program that uses nuanced feedback instead of rote responses.

Already such a program exists in suicide prevention.

A caller with suicidal thoughts can text message with emotional AI bot while in the background the controllers are able to monitor the seriousness of the exchange. If a suicide attempt seems immanent a therapist is brought on the line for human contact.

AI to gauge our spiritual growth.

  • There is significant research into transpersonal experiences(for example, feeling blissful, being untroubled by emotional conflict, being aware of expanding beyond the confines of the physical body).
  • There are at least twenty markers for spiritual growth.
  • These do not involve religious beliefs but are evidence of the mind’s ability to transcend everyday mental activity.
  • We do this naturally in moments of wonder and inspiration, yet we do not weave them together.
  • Once they are woven together, the signs of higher consciousness begin to appear and form a pattern.
  • At the simplest level, a software program could evaluate your state of awareness by using an index of higher consciousness.
  • The next step would be feedback, where the program assimilates your answers and weighs them dynamically to tell you what trend you are following.

Becoming more human thanks to a machine seems to be the most exciting horizon that AI can cross. Turning to AI as your personal health advisor, or life coach is not far-fetched.

Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?

Education Trends: Technologies that will Shape the Future of Education

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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