2 min readMalcolm Gladwell: The trick to interacting with machines is to remember that they are machines…we are a fundamentally different thing

In this article written by Cynthia Johnson following her interview with Malcolm Gladwell, she talks about how machines cannot replace humans and human interactions.

Important Points (and Quotes)

Gladwell does not believe in treating AI as a physical part of humanity

Deciding what the machines are good at and what the humans are good at while respecting both parties will serve as an essential leadership quality for the age of intelligence we are fast approaching.

In reference to Sophia, the first robot citizen recognized in Saudi Arabia, reported to have been afforded with more rights than Saudi women, Gladwell comments:

…it is [crucial] to create artificial intelligence as a tool for growth instead of an ingredient for the further decay of equality and individuality.

This is the reason why Johnson prefers that robots have no human faces:

We could very soon interact with robots as if they’re humans and we could very easily give up our rights in defense of theirs.

Gladwell believes that AI is a double-edged sword. While it can lead us to amazing results, it could infantilize us as well.

 If the machine does all the thinking for you, where do you develop those tools on your own? I think of the rise of AI as a profoundly mixed blessing. It’s a powerful tool that needs to be managed properly to benefit us instead of impoverishing us.

We need human interaction. We need failure so that we can discover innovations that we may not have been looking for, and we need to remember that an easier life where robots are doing most of the heavy lifting doesn’t necessarily make for a society where people are fulfilled and happy. We need each other and we need to be needed.


Cynthia Johnson

Author, Entreprenuer, CEO of Bellivy.com

Why It Matters

While this article does not contain the gloom and doom predictions of individuals like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, it does provide us compelling reasons why humans must take precaution when approaching AI.

For sure, both Johnson and Gladwell may need to take up their own research to determine the probability of intelligent machines becoming a reality in the next few decades, but their message is clear: humans need to realize that we are fundamentally different from machines, and as such, must not equate (and depend) our success and failure as a species to the success and failure of our intelligent creations.

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