Aaaaaagh, your passive aggressive workmate struck again! You type your answer furiously and are about to press the send button – but then your rational part kicks in. You stop. Think. Decide not to send it as you realise it’d be a bad, bad idea.
Instead, you send a grown-up, mature response after 10 minutes. There! That’ll teach them.
We all are eager to jump in the AI bandwagon, but Facebook is taking it to the next level by creating an interface that will turn your thoughts into text. Regina Dugan, leader of Building 8, announced at F8 developer conference that within “a few years’ time” the company aims to develop a brain-to-text system that can type at 100 words per minute, converting your thoughts into text without any kind of implant.
Super exciting: it has incredible potential for deaf, paralysed and blind people to communicate more easily.
Super concerning: people can post or text a friend 5 times faster than with a Smartphone.
Do we really have control over our thoughts?
The power of the brain might be greater than what is translated through speech, but our brain also misbehaves. We are not rational. Life is pretty much 10% what happens to us and 90% of how we react to it.
We are faced every day with situations, conversations, events and challenges, which provoke a reaction from us. Whether this reaction is positive or negative depends on the state we are in: it’s not the external events themselves that disturb us, but the way we decide to interpret them. How they make us feel.
That’s why we get suddenly very upset of a friend’s innocent remark that we would shrug off any other day.
Some respond visibly in an emotional, irrational and volatile manner, while some do it in a calm, considerate and strategic way. But this calmness usually only happens on surface, because in “that very moment” our instant response has nothing to do with logic, values or intelligence and everything to do with emotion. We are secretly boiling inside.
Speed kills the emotional IQ
Our thoughts being converted in text and sent five times faster is a scary “thought”. The time we use for typing gives a chance for the rational part of our brain to bring in the troops to stop us from overreacting. This filter is like the friend who grabs your Smartphone the moment they notice you’re about to drunk whatsapp your ex.
If the texting becomes instant, our emotional IQ defense system is not fast enough to stop us from typing and sending / posting something stupid we deep down know we shouldn’t.
Can you imagine an influential public figure tweeting in a burst of anger, without thinking about international consequences?
Rational filtering is essential
We can’t stop the technological advancements and we shouldn’t. As Elon Musk says we need to act now to keep pace with advancements in artificial intelligence or we will turn into entertaining robots’ house pets. His solution is Neuralink to keep up with the speed. For example, instead of you whatsapping your friend, the thought would just go from your brain to his directly.
Elon Musk states, that “people won’t be able to read your thoughts — you would have to will it. If you don’t will it, it doesn’t happen. Just like if you don’t will your mouth to talk, it doesn’t talk.”
But we all have said something in a moment of anger we regret for years.
Emotion is what drives us, but logic and intelligence is what should be steering us.
We still have few years left before Facebook’s brain-to-text system and Elon Musk’s Neuralink become a reality. There is a way to train our brain to focus on the positive, separate facts from opinions and choose an appropriate response. This is a skill we learn to get along with the rest of the tribe, but it requires a conscious effort and a lot of training.
We should start teaching how to control our emotions in schools and workplaces before it’s too late. It would be irresponsible to allow someone to use technology that lets them communicate five times faster if they have not learned how to control their emotions in such a speed. Just like you wouldn’t let someone without a licence to drive a Lamborghini on a German highway without speed limits.
We need speed to survive, but we must learn how to control our wonderfully irrational human side first.