Artificial Versus Emotional Intelligence

I am fascinated by the term “Artificial intelligence” as I think both these words throw up interesting questions

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I am fascinated by the term “Artificial intelligence” as I think both these words throw up interesting questions – what do they mean; what do they mean now; will they mean different things in the future?

The Definition of Intelligence

This week I have been thinking about the definition of intelligence, and what the counter-balance to artificial intelligence is – is it human intelligence, real intelligence etc. My thoughts have been triggered by two situations:

  • Coaching someone who did poorly at school, did not go to university but has run many successful businesses. Discussing his achievements, we often refer to the work of Howard Gardner, Professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard University. His work on multiple intelligences is helpful in moving past the narrow definition of IQ and cognitive ability as we consider what makes this man such an effective leader. We use this to debate what great leadership is for the next generation.
  • My colleague runs an amazing online master class in emotional intelligence, which encompasses the intra-personal and interpersonal intelligences that Gardner identified (and in my mind also includes the linguistic intelligence – using your empathy to find the right words at the right time). Looking at the syllabus of her course has made me think about how important this type of intelligence will be as we use AI for more and more analytical work.

Focus on Using Our Humanity

Bringing these two streams of thought together, I believe the challenges posed by AI in the workplace will lead us to focus more on using our humanity. This means our ability to understand and empathise with the emotions of others and use this understanding to have deep conversations where we uncover far more information than surface level analysis would reveal.

I cannot shake the feeling that whilst the work on Emotional Intelligence from Daniel Goleman is over a quarter of a century old, it might be coming to much greater prominence. After all, the human level of logical-mathematical intelligence has already been surpassed by many forms of AI.

In a recent interview, Professor Gardner made the same point: “I am certain that AI will surpass human beings in some respects – indeed, it already has – whether it is in communication efficiency or in detecting small changes in a presentation or making defensible decisions in the case of medical or legal controversies. As human beings, we have to decide whether simply to accept our lesser acuity – if you will, our lesser form or amount of intelligence; to enhance our own capacities; to work with AI; or to declare certain decisions (e.g. ethical or moral dilemmas) as inappropriate for AI systems, and to be made only by human beings, working together.”

What do you think? What is the most important intelligence that humans need at work now? Are we spending enough time developing this, at school and at work?

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