Posts Tagged ‘Interpersonal Relationships’

Humans Are Underrated

September 29, 2015

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.

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The Triangle of Well-Being

March 8, 2014

The Triangle of Well-Being is a chapter in Daniel J. Siegel’s superb book, Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology: An Integrative Handbook of the Mind. This triangle of well-being is a three pointed figure that is a metaphor for the idea that mind, brain, and relationships are each part of a whole. The notion is that this triangle is a metaphoric map that signifies one reality with three interdependent facets. The triangle represents the process by which energy and information flow. This process changes over time. Relationships are the sharing of this flow. The brain refers to the extended nervous system distributed throughout the body that serves as the embodied mechanism of that flow. The mind is an emergent process that arises from the system of energy information flow within and among people. A critical aspect of the mind is the emergent process of self-regulation that regulates that from which it arises.

So the mind can regulate and change the brain, which is the process of neuroplasticity. The energy information flow within us, our thinking and behavioral process, along with our communication with our fellow human beings can produce resultant changes in the brain for better or worse. The worse part is when maladaptive emotions, thoughts, and behaviors occur. The better part is when we acquire new knowledge, modulate our emotions, and foster beneficial and enjoyable relationships.

Siegel is a psychiatrist who is the Co-Director of the UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center. He uses this conceptual treatment both in his treatment of psychiatric patients and in the development of healthy mindfulness. His pocket guide goes into great detail regarding the parts of the brain and how they are modified in the process.

Permit me to elaborate on this triangle using the lingo of the healthymemory blog. Interpersonal relationships are part of transactive memory, but transactive memory includes technology as well as live interactions among individuals. Books and other technical media allow us to establish relationships with humans who have long departed. Admittedly, these relationships are uni-directional, but they are nevertheless valuable. We can also establish relationships through technology with living individuals throughout the world, and these relationships are definitely bi-directional.  Relationships among groups are omnidirectional. Such relationships can be valuable, but they need to be distinguished from relationships in social media, such as Facbook, where “friending” can be largely superficial.