Lost in Confrontation: Is AI the End of Social and Emotional Intelligence?

As AI progresses, are we comfortable with what our society is becoming?

The name of the dystopian series, Black Mirror, refers to our lifeless handheld devices reflecting ourselves back at us once switched off. Challenging us to face our true selves after polishing our digital one. It opens up the question of what technology really does for us and who it brings out from within. Essentially, the more we stare at it, the deeper we feel a connection with what it provides us with, and as it continues to advance at an incredibly rapid rate we are presented with the following question: are we comfortable with what our society is becoming?

Artificial Intelligence – End of Enlightenment or More Thinking for Us?

These days your phone can be your GP, your lover, your memory, your bank and fundamentally, your communication with everyone. But I’m interested in whether being asked how many times you look at your phone makes you uncomfortable to answer or proud to respond to? Do you rely on your black mirror to plan and lead your life or could you do without it? Perhaps you’re anxious to even consider a life without it.

Creativity is deeply ingrained within us, yet we take its power for granted. We seek to develop technology and artificial intelligence at such rapid rates that it takes away the authenticity of creative thought. Why are we determined to create a direct competitor for ourselves – do we not feel challenged enough by each other? Are we too good or too arrogant?

Let’s play a game. 

  • It’s 2045. Intellaid own the NHS and the Education System and offer implants to newborns as a way of enhancing language acquisition. You’ve just had a baby and a Doctor says to you: “we can offer enhanced language acquisition to your child”. Do you hesitate or do you embrace technology? Do you tell him to get away from your child or do you give your child a head start in life? 

This is where I challenge you to answer what is more important to you – giving your child access to enhanced intelligence and consequently a much higher chance of success, or raising a child, no matter their potential, in a natural way. 

Let’s talk social and emotional intelligence

As a society, we’re becoming more inclined to break up with each other via phone than we are face to face. We seek life partners in apps and would rather say hello behind a screen than to a face, and yet this doesn’t scare us. We keep accelerating it; making it faster, better, more efficient and more intricate.

We want our phones to know us. We want our music apps to pick our next favourite album; digital fashion to make a great outfit we can never wear but our followers love. In a time when it’s more common to get a Tinder match than it is to make eye contact, it’s time to ask ourselves the following question: are we willingly leaving social and emotional intelligence behind us on the pursuit of technological advancement?

Artificial Intelligence generates fascination and fear. Many, like us, are amazed at the benefits AI can deliver for businesses and consumers.

There’s definitely a balance to be found between technological advancement and remaining socially and emotionally intelligent – we need to collaborate more, discuss ideas more and speak more openly with each other. 

If we continue to stare at screens rather than faces, then we are walking away from all that it means to be human. At this moment in time we appear to be switching off when it is vital that we, as a society, remain entirely switched on. As Charlie Brooker, the Creator of Black Mirror, said: “Man the lifeboats, the idiots are winning.” – it’s time for us to face the corporations and change our present to better our future. 

Thanks for reading (now put your phone away and hug a friend). 

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Kelly Macbeth Mackay
Writer Kelly is a graduate of both a Creative Writing degree from Capilano University, Vancouver, and a BA (Hons) Advertising degree from London College of Communication. Co-founder of Halftime London, an online publication and community championing females in sport, she also freelances as Lead Production Scriptwriter for Cannes Lions and currently interns for FashNerd.com.