I have a thought coming back to me more and more often right now. Or not just a thought, maybe rather a vision. A vision which includes a bright future for people with diagnoses and “non neurotypical” behaviour.
I am currently reading the book Life 3.0 written by tech well-known AI researcher Max Tegmak. A reading experience which left me with many thoughts about the future and what will really matter to humanity. In the book Max Tegmark clearly points out how many of the jobs we do today soon will be taken over by AI/robots – jobs like drivers, doctors, accountants, journalists, legal advisors etc. The change is already going on everywhere around us today. And of course one of the questions that immediately arises is; what will be left to be done by us human beings?
This is where my head starts spinning and where my vision of the bright future takes off.
Because perhaps this shift will affect the way we value IQ versus EQ? Perhaps outstanding EQ skills will matter a lot more?
We have lived in a time where IQ has been highly valued over EQ. But what if our robots can deliver so much better IQ than any human being? How will this affect how we value “high IQ scores” on different tests? And how will it affect how we value EQ and people who can handle human relations in a way robots simply can’t?
I know there are lots of programs, apps, physical products out there focusing on developing robots which can also be empathic in order to handle relations and cure feelings of loneliness (like the Norwegian company No Isolation) which is one of many companies focusing on this topic right now. But I also see that there is something, almost mysterious, happening with people when they meet my daughter Vanja. Vanja who was born with Down syndrome, and who I’d say is highly skilled when it comes to EQ.
It’s like she, almost without being aware of it, opens up a direct channel to other people’s inner selves and inner feelings. Like they simply can’t reject to smile, or for a second or two actually enjoy life a little bit more. (Ok, I realize that I am biased here – maybe I seem like a crazy mum putting my own daughter on a pedestal right now, haha, but I am sure that there are more people out there who would agree when it comes to meetings with individuals with other persons born with Down syndrome.)
I would be happy to receive your thoughts and comments about this observation, because I honestly feel that she, and her peers also born with Down syndrome, has something very important to tell humanity. And the importance of what they have to offer will rise in a time where AI takes over more and more of other people’s jobs, and perhaps also cause people to feel that their lives lack a bit of meaning.
Another skill which I believe will become more and more important is the ability to stay focused on what you do. Not that robots won’t be able to do this – but because this will be crucial for humans in order to not lose control. And the fact is that this is a skill which many people with non neurotypical behaviour, and diagnoses like ADHD and/or on the Autism spectrum have; the skill of hyperfocus. In a time where more and more neurotypical persons have difficulty focusing on one task – (perhaps because of the widespread addiction to social media ) and many people can’t focus on reading a text longer than 5 minutes read – my prediction is that more and more companies will start to really value this skill of hyperfocus. Because to keep up with the AI we are developing right now it simply will not be enough to have people working in those companies who are generalists or semi-focused specialists. We already see a trend where some companies have started this development of specific employment programs for employees with autism – like for example Microsoft, SAP and Ford, and I believe this is only the beginning. (But it will demand a lot from companies, HR departments, recruitment agencies etc to speed up this change…!).
Furthermore – the skill of creative thinking is another one that AI won’t be able to handle perfectly. Because if it is “perfect” – I suppose it isn’t really creative? I won’t go into this now, but have written another post about this earlier.
So all in all, I am actually quite hopeful about the future for our children while I am writing this post. I SO much would like to still be a part of this world and this society when this shift will start taking place! The shift where people with disabilities are seen for their incredible abilities! Where my daughter will be seen and valued for her skills and where other families’ sons and daughters will be seen and valued for their skills. A future where the world embraces and values various non neurotypical skills and true neurodiversity more and more for every day!