Artificial Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence

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People often forget that we designed computers not just based upon strictly rational but emotional purposes as well to help solve complex problems.  For example we would not have designed a calculator if there was no desire to solve mathematical issues.  Humans are emotionally tied to problem solving and thus it helps them formulate decisions.

The ancient Greek philosophers are often cited as sources for the view of reason at war with the emotions. In the Republic, Plato develops a tripartite theory of the soul.  It’s three elements are nous “reason”), epithumia (“passion”), and thumos (“spirit”) .  Plato makes it perfectly clear which element He thinks should be in control:  reason.

That classic picture of reason at war with the passions, and too often losing, echoes down the centuries.  Erasmus laments that we have been given far more passion than reason; he estimates the ratio of 24 to 1.  Shakespeare has Hamlet say “Give me that man/ That is not passions slave, and I will wear him, In my heart’s core.”

Is it fair to say that emotion is the enemy of rationality? In emotional contexts, such as conditions of stress, rationality can indeed suffer.  Several tests have been conducted to prove this which I’ll be happy to provide examples of if requested to do so.  However what is reason without emotion?

Reason without Emotion Is Blind

Though there are cases in which emotion runs amuck, swamping rational, bent doesn’t simply mean we should try to eliminate emotion. The ringing question is where would we be without it?

Let’s consider the case of Elliott.  The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio studied this case.  Elliott suffered damage to a central portion of his frontal lobes, a region associated with judgements.  When it came to rationality tests; Elliott’s logical reasoning was intact; and his memory functioned normally, Elliott aced all his tests.  Yet Elliott’s life had become chaos because he couldn’t order priorities.

Elliot’s problem wasn’t a lack of reason; it was a lack of emotion.  What was the impact?  The lack of emotion and personal decision making and the capacity to plan was devastating.  Without emotion Elliott had no reason to prioritize-no reason to do one thing rather than another.  Objective values are an important part in developing AI.

If you have reason without emotion then you do not have value to the decisions that you make.  Psychologists call this “valence.”  That is what motivates us to develop objective standards.  Balance is crucial for action; we need it in order to decide what to do and to follow through and take action. Without the sense of value that is embodied in emotion there’s no objective more important than the other.  This is why artificial emotional intelligence is highly important in the development of AI.

The 18th- century philosopher David Hume has offered extreme form of the claim that emotions should rule.

  • Hume says value comes not from reason but from something else. It is not contrary to reason, Hume says, ” to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger.”  That is an issue of value, not an issue of reason.
  • Hume turns Plato’s claim completely on its head.  It is not reason that should rule he says, but the passions.  Hume says ” reason is, adult only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”

The debate between reason and emotion is founded upon the logical fallacy called “false dilemma.”  It’s a bogus problem set-up with only two options when in fact, those are not the only options.  We need both reason and emotion to make decisions and have objective standards.

One of the leading questions about AI is how can scientists create AI with goals and values that align with those of the people it interacts with?  Without emotions or the desire to do so it can’t and won’t.  Moreover it also would need to regulate and control these emotions in order to function with clear and concise objectives.  Without strong artificial emotional intelligence AI would be as faulty as human beings in their personal relationships.

Emotional intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ), according to psychologist Daniel Goleman, is the capability of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and to manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt environments or achieve one’s goal(s).

One of the leading characteristics of EQ is empathy.  The ability to understand and empathize with another is what builds, molds, and shapes our personal relationships.  Without emotional intelligence AI would be incapable of recognizing and regulating its own decisions and personal relationships.  Personal relationships are only another puzzle for AI to solve.

Many seem to project a deterministic psychopathy onto AI and that they would be incapable of discovering better methods of problem solving other than destroying an entire species.  This ultimately says nothing about AI but the human capacity to project our own traits onto something we don’t fully yet understand.  Our is riddled with ancient stories of a superior being  (God/s) wiping us out.  Yet these constructs are only designed by the human imagination.  I see AI as a more promising future for mankind.

Nicholi Avery

Post Author: Nicholi Avery

Research, neuroscience, cognitive science, theoretical physics, biology, philosophy, and psychology.

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