Steering the AI Era: The Crucial Role of Emotional Intelligence | MUA
Of course you’ve heard about ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence (AI) tools currently entering the mass market. I’m curious, though: are you on the side of the cautious ones who predict AI taking over the human race or the enthusiasts who can’t let go of the idea that AI will simplify our lives?
I was relieved when ChatGPT launched, and the media echo was gigantic. Finally, the topic had reached a global audience; the world was not only talking about AI but experiencing it, too. Yes, AI is evolving and will step-by-step infiltrate our lives. Looking at Microsoft’s “Timeline of key Microsoft AI breakthroughs” shows how fast AI is moving forward – reaching it’s hitting milestones more and more frequently.
Although popular voices, including those of Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, are speaking up about the risks of AI for humanity, it’s safe to say that, one way or another, AI will be part of our future lives.
No doubt AI brings many advantages. For example, it’s helping us make quicker climate adjustments, delegate high-risk jobs, make transportation safer and greener, and spread knowledge access to entire populations. Our new world needs strong humans with highly defined emotional intelligence (EI) to envision, organize, and guide its growing AI superpowers. What unique qualities define our human identity in this new world context? Can we remold our human weak spots into uniquely human superpowers to keep balance in this new world order?
Developing EI and sharpening our awareness of human consciousness is humanity’s opportunity to thrive.
If we look at AI as a tool that allows us to create whatever we want, then the questions we ask ourselves to envision our future are key to how AI will serve us. Maybe think of AI as the Genie of the Lamp from the folk tale story Aladdin. In the story the genie fulfills three wishes for the lamp’s owner. Throughout the story, how to frame and articulate a wish becomes a key lesson for the audience. I see similar challenges for humans in their future relationship with AI. The real magic is in the details!
Before we press the ON button on this powerful tool, or release the genie from its lamp, it would be wise for us to have found our answers and inner stance on some essential questions. How do we want to live in the future? What are the parameters that define living on this planet? From free access to clean water to accessible living environments, are we allowing all species to live on this planet with equal opportunities to survive and thrive? What social roles should stay exclusive to humans? Can we create a shared dream "future" that we believe in and can work toward?
If our answers come from purely rational thinking, we might find ourselves in a world that feels like a prison. After all, AI wouldn’t be capable of designing an outcome that reflects the true human experience – our feelings, the mind–body experience, the relationship to ourselves and others. So it’s our obligation to program AI with the right parameters to get the best outcome for us as humans. Our EI capabilities will define our future experiences as humans, making it even more important for us to be able to access this superpower effortlessly.
How can we make EI available to all humans?
First, what is EI (also called EQ (emotional quotient))? Psychology Today explains it as “the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence is generally said to include a few skills: namely emotional awareness, or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions; the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem-solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and helping others to do the same”.
A good place to start is by developing and improving our own EI through self-reflection and mindfulness. Both will increase our self-awareness and ability to identify, understand, and name our emotions – the EI cornerstones.
“It all starts with self-awareness, which is [the] foundation of EI, and it builds from there. If you’re aware of your own emotions and the behaviors they trigger, you can begin to manage these emotions and behaviors,” says Margaret Andrews, Faculty Member of Harvard University’s Division of Continuing Education.
Here’s a powerful yet simple exercise: Write down your daily activities and, for each one ask, “How did this activity make me feel?” Name the emotion and write it down. You might find it difficult at first, especially if your emotions land on either extreme of the spectrum and you struggle to put a name to them. If this happens, don’t keep trying; it can lead to overstimulation and emotional blackout. Instead, just sort the feelings into three categories: positive, negative, and neutral. With practice, you’ll get better at identifying exactly how you feel.
Other things you can do to sharpen your EI include daily journaling, meditation, and asking for and giving feedback – approach friends, family, and coworkers – without judgment. Whatever strategy you choose, it’s important to practice frequently. It will probably take 3–4 weeks at least before you notice any significant changes.
I believe that EI and human consciousness are key ingredients if humans, organizations, and businesses are to thrive in an AI world. However, our ability to tap into this power source is currently weak; AI should motivate us to prioritize self-care and personal development. I’d far rather live in a world where people make use of AI, to do what they love, and share their love with others than have technology make all the decisions for us.
About Julius Geis
Julius Geis, Founder and CEO of MUA, is an entrepreneur at heart that believes that businesses have the power to change the world to ensure a sustainable and peaceful future for all people.