Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will by Geoff Colvin purports to relieve any concerns we might have of being replaced by computers. His argument is that the human understanding of interpersonal relationships and empathy are essential skills that humans have that will never be replaced by computers. I would also argue that the human understanding of interpersonal relationships and empathy are skill that are limited to small groups. The history of the species is one of warfare and conflicts, to include enslavement and attempts at exterminating other groups. He contradicts himself by also stating that no one should ever say what computers can’t do. However, even if computers can never achieve empathy, there will still be a massive displacement of humans by computers. If this is your primary interest then you should read another book reviewed in the immediately preceding healthymemory blog post, The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brunjolfsson & Andrew McAfee, a book that addresses the problem and proposes solutions in an accurate and thorough manner.
Nevertheless, there is much of value and interest in Colvin’s book. I shall hit some highlights here and address some other topics in future healthy memory blog posts.
He argues that our brains were built for understanding and interacting with others. He argues, correctly, that empathy is the foundation of the other abilities that increasingly make people valuable as technology advances.
Colvin also notes that although computers will never be able to incorporate empathy or other interpersonal skills, IT can nevertheless be used to train interpersonal skills. Many examples are taken from research done for the military.
He also writes of the importance of narratives. This is an especially important topic and warrants its own future post.
Colvin makes a compelling argument that females have better interpersonal and empathic skills than do males. The number of females on a team contribute positively to the performance of that team. And the best teams consist exclusively of females. So it is likely that females shall provide the lead in the future. We are already seeing movements in that direction as there is a higher percentage of females in college than males and a higher percentage of female graduates.
Colvin ends on an optimizing note encouraging us all to grow and improve.
© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.