The computer says ‘yes’, but can AI really drive happy accidents and social collaboration?


David Byrne is a musician and a writer and lives in New York City. An extract from one of his articles appeared on the MIT Technology Review.  The article talks about the ubiquitous presence of Artificial Intelligence embedded in the  social interaction software and networks that we meddle with, day in and day out relentlessly.  We take it so granted, that I was compelled to write about his unique perspective on the effects of AI (Artificial intelligence) on our social life. You can find the article here.

Here, in the following paragraphs, you will find my perspectives (my 5 cents to it) on ‘Can AI really drive happy accidents leading to social interaction’ riding on David Byrne’s arguments.

We are swayed by the AI networks for social interaction

We as humans are so preset with the current way of life using all kinds’ of smart devices for communication and interaction that we have often forgotten to realize what it means to have a real human-to-human interaction.  In fact, would like to appreciate MIT Technology Review for giving such a clever title as “Eliminating the Human” in the article.

David argues that we are swayed by the artificial cues and matches thrown by AI (Artificial intelligence) that we have failed to recognize our natural instincts as social animals to trust our own intuition for social interaction and collaboration that consumes us.

There is a generalization, and the pattern is obvious.  We are entering into a world, which increasingly does not favor human interaction.  For example, if we go to the ever popular, the site acts and behaves like a machine and gives us recommendations on what to buy based on our past interests and even the review conversations are machine like.

Social networks are engineered predominantly by male software engineers

So are the other modern outlets like music stores, driver-less cars, online ordering and home delivery, speech recognition and personal assistants, big data and even popular social networks.  Though social networks have the social interaction part, they are less real.  They are the simulated version of our interactions.  The entire interaction happens from a software engineer’s point of view.  Partly because, the software engineering crowd is predominantly male and they do seem to share the feeling that human interaction is all noise and has less simplicity and efficiency.

Unfortunately, their feelings are not what rest of the world shares.  It is a known fact that the technology and automation sector seem to have a potent power to overwhelm us with this mindset.  There is an imbalance of course.

Their (software engineering male crowd) biological make up wants to have a social interaction and social collaboration, which is smooth and seamless, sans all the innuendos and natural unpredictable gibberish conversations of the human crowd.  This is obvious when you look at the modern day robot workers in factories.  They do not complain,  no social interaction like the humans do and of-course no sick leave.  The employers are happy, as they do not have to cuts taxes nor pay for medical care or employment benefits.

Our unpredictability is a boon

What we are missing is that the unpredictable human nature with all its surprises, happy accidents, serendipitous discoveries, and intuitions is what makes life enjoyable.  This unpredictability actually or rather unconsciously multiplies the number of meaningful coincidences leading to more and more social interactions and social collaboration. By the way, we do not act on or take our decisions rationally.  We take our decisions based on our emotions, that very moment, which is something, concurred by the behavioral economists themselves.

The arrival of the illusion-less AI

We humans are by nature social animals.  We benefit the human society by passing our knowledge, expertise, and wisdom.  We thrive, survive, and evolve on cooperation with each other.  We would like to have the materialistic things of the world.  We imagine and dream, is it not.  Something the AI driven networks and machines do not do.  They are self-interested.  There is an evident limitation to their simulation driven social interactions.

Such limitations in AI behavior can be overcome with time, may be some few hundred years into the future.  When illusions finally fade away even within the AI world.  If you happen to see the latest movie in the ‘Alien’ series, ‘Alien – The covenant’, the understanding is quite clear on where we are headed.  Ridley Scott the acclaimed film director and producer wants to covey, how an illusion-less AI, in the form of humanoid robot can create a piece of music on its own and enjoy it.  Moreover, at the end, the AI chooses a better species reiterating the fact that ‘We, or rather ‘our actions’ are the perpetrators of our own destiny’.

We humans do not want to lose that advantage, do we?  We thrive on our relationships.  We are the real networks.


Please feel free to comment on your perspectives and what you think.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Ramkumar Yaragarla

I am 43 years old. Founder, Loving dad and Husband. Worked as an IT Business analyst and program manager in several Fortune 100 companies.Alumnus at the University of Warwick, UK. I love the WWW and write on Social aspects of information, Social collaboration, Digital Sociology, Digital Humanities and Work life balance. I enjoy playing on the beach with my 9 year old daughter. I am open to your suggestions and comments.
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