Artificial Intelligence (AI) has placed us at the crossroad to rethink the definition of humanity. Once the most powerful creatures on the planet, our powers are currently challenged by our own creation.
Appearing to be a more productive and superior thinker, Artificial Intelligence is currently placing people out of their jobs, and the lure of higher returns on investment is facilitating this onslaught.
It cannot be out of sheer fluke that the mass layoff of more than 141, 072 workers in U.S-based tech companies in 2023 is happening concurrently with the spate in AI applications. Although a number of these workers appeared to be more dispensable within the corporate structure, no one is safe as long as the lure of abnormal profit is glaring, and market competition is getting more hostile.
This consternation is gradually precipitating with the appointment of an AI bot, Tang Yu, as the CEO of the Chinese gaming company, NetDragaon Websoft in March 2023. The result, as reported by the company, has been a 10% increase in the company’s share price. Should we all then become shareholders of AI companies? It appears so, as an investment option, but a more secure investment exists in this AI-induced disruption. It is the investment in our humanity. There has never been a time where the need to invest in one’s personality become so urgent. Soon, it is going to be a prerequisite for survival, both as an individual and as a corporate body.
The cracking of the mystic shell around the concept of personality was first attempted by Sigmund Freud in the early 1890s with his Psychoanalytic Personality theory, where he divided the human mind into id, ego and superego. He explained them as the Instincts, Intellect and Morality, and proclaimed the superego as the ethical component of our personality that regulates the actions of our intellect.
Carl Rogers in 1959, presented a much different personality theory called Self-concept. He introduced the concept of Self Ideal, Self-image and Self-esteem, and explained the disparity between the ideal self and the self-image as the measure of a person’s self-esteem; the pivot of one’s personality.
Tim Laye in 2004, revived an ancient concept on Temperament developed by Hippocrates. They characterized human instinctive behaviour by four distinctive temperaments: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic and Phlegmatic, and created a spectrum from extraversion to introversion. Their concept on personality forms a huge component of Myers-Briggs’s pseudoscience Personality Type Indicator: an introspective self-report assessment to identify one’s personality type.
Analysing these and many other personality theories clearly reveals three basic and common measure of one’s personality. Assessing every characteristic, behaviour and thought pattern of people, personality could be evaluated by simply looking at a person’s Drive, Intelligence and Wisdom. Whiles drive and intelligence have been accepted and well-defined in the academic domain, the term ‘wisdom’ is loosely defined and mostly relegated to cultural and religious interpretation. Yet, traits such as being sensitive to others’ feelings, compassionate, thoughtful, purposeful, disciplined, courteous, peaceful, having deep instinctive insight, a sense of intuition, and possessing other set of ethical values falls into the domain of a wise person.
The closest attribution to wisdom by the academic and business field is the term ‘Emotional Intelligence,’ as coined by John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey in 1990. The term was further popularized in 1995 by Daniel Goleman, who decomposed it into four main components: Self Awareness, Social Awareness, Self Management, and Relationship Management. Yet, even with its fanciful name and definition, it is only a subset of the term ‘Wisdom,’ because there are many times where wise decisions must temporarily hurt your own feelings and the feelings of others. Hence, living only within the plane of Emotional Intelligence will rather make us diplomatic, which can make it more difficult to deal with very necessary situations that conflicts with humans’ emotions.
Intelligence (cognitive) as touted by the education system, refers more to logical and analytical thinking, and the making of evaluations and decisions based on facts and figures (knowledge). It is scientific and feeds on critical questioning, and methodically inducing and deducing answers to problems. Out of intelligence births creativity, innovation, design, planning, construction, engineering, management and several other productive activities of humans. Nonetheless, ‘Leadership,’ a key driver of human development, partially eludes cognitive intelligence, because it sits at the intersection of intelligence and wisdom.
Quite unconventional, unscientific and many times, less logical, wisdom reflects a person’s character, life experiences, culture, beliefs, religion, environment and a broader perspective of the world. Whiles critical thinking forms part of the major components of wisdom, wisdom feeds more on ethical and social values, integrity, purpose, and a deep awareness of the existence of a ‘universal justice’ system. Wise people are not only thoughtful and emotionally intelligent, but they also put the collective good of the society ahead of their personal interest. This is a key missing trait in the domain of cognitive intelligence.
Wisdom can simply be explained with just one word, ‘Conscience;’ what Stephen R. Covey in his book, ‘The 8th Habit’ describes as the ‘still small voice’. The more active the Conscience, the wiser the person. Not every intelligent person is wise, human resource managers have learnt this lesson the hard way, where greed, ego, selfishness and corruption have nullified the effects of super-intelligent staffs, and have wreaked havoc within many organizations. Likewise, being wise is not an automatic validation of intelligence, unless knowledge (fact) is acquired and scientifically processed.
Without intelligence, a wise person is less productive, talking more but doing less, and without wisdom, an intelligent person, out of personal interest and blunder, may become a threat to others. The preferred personality in the wake of AI is to be both Intelligent and Wise, but as part of human intelligence is being artificialized, the premium is to gain more wisdom. This is because, as a good percentage of the work requiring human intelligence is being done by machines, the workplace in the coming years will have zero tolerance for ill-mannered, egoistic, selfish and uncooperative employees. Aside skills and intelligence, our inherent sense of humanity is our safe haven.
There now exists artificial intelligence because the logical and methodical nature of cognitive intelligence makes Intelligence easily learnable, but the unconventional and intuitive nature of wisdom requires the assumption of a particular state of being. This is the reason nothing like artificial wisdom exists. In the intelligence race, machines will beat us to speed, but wisdom still remains our best chance to level up the pace. Whiles we learn from AI, work with it, and live with it, let us remember that what we call ‘common sense’ is all that we will need in addition to our intelligence to stay ahead of the complexity of artificial intelligence. While AI is becoming more complex, we should be thinking of how to become more simple.