Hitting the Books: AI is making people think faster, not smarter

Qhere’s too much internet and our attempts to keep up with the fast pace of, well, everything these days – it’s breaking our brains. Analyzing the deluge of flooding information fueled by algorithmic systems built to maximize engagement has trained us as slavish Pavlovian dogs to rely on snap judgments and gut feelings in our decision making. and opinion formation instead of evaluation and assessment. Which is fine when you’re deciding between Italian and Indian for dinner or waffling on a new paint color for the hallway, but not when we’re here basing friggin’ life choices. vibes.

In his latest book, I, HUMAN: AI, Automation, and the Quest to Reclaim What Makes Us Unique, professor of business psychology and Chief Innovation Officer of ManpowerGroup, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic explores the many ways that AI systems are now managing our daily lives and interactions. From finding love to finding a profitable job to finding the score of yesterday’s match, AI has streamlined the process of gathering information. But, as Chamorro-Premuzic says in the quote below, that information revolution is actively changing our behavior, and not always for the better.

Harvard Business Review Press

Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. Taken from I, HUMAN: AI, Automation, and the Quest to Reclaim What Makes Us Unique by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. Copyright 2023 Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. All rights reserved.

Our Brains at Speed

If the age of AI requires our brains to be constantly alert to small changes and react quickly, optimize for speed rather than accuracy and operate in what behavioral economists label System 1 mode (impulsive, intuitive, automatic, and unconscious decision-making), then it should come as no surprise that we become less patient versions of ourselves.

Of course, sometimes it’s best to react quickly or trust our guts. The real problem comes when rapid mindlessness is our primary method of decision making. It causes us to make mistakes and impairs our ability to recognize mistakes. More often than not, rash decisions are due to ignorance.

Intuition can be good, but it takes hard work. Experts, for example, are able to think on their feet because they have invested thousands of hours in learning and practice: their intuition becomes data-driven. Only then will they be able to act quickly in accordance with their internalized expertise and evidence-based experience. Alas, most people are not experts, even though they often think they are. Most of us, especially when we interact with others on Twitter, act like experts with speed, assertiveness, and conviction, offering a broad opinion on epidemiology and global crisis, without the substance of knowledge to back it up. this. And thanks to AI, which ensures that our messages are sent to an audience that is more likely to believe them, our tricks of the trade can be reinforced by our personal filter bubble. We have an interesting tendency to find people more open-minded, rational, and rational when they think like us. Our digital impulsivity and general impatience undermines our ability to grow intellectually, develop skills, and acquire knowledge.

Consider a little patience and patience that we use the actual information. And I said CONSUMPTION rather than examining, analyzing, or vetting. An academic study estimated that the top 10 percent of digital rumors (many of them fake news) account for up to 36 percent of retweets, and this effect is best explained in terms of the so-called echo chamber , where retweets are based on clickbait that matches the views, beliefs, and ideology of the retweeter, to the point that any discrepancy between those beliefs and the actual content of the underlying article may go unnoticed. Patience means taking the time to determine if something is true or fake news, or if there are serious reasons to believe someone’s point of view, especially if we agree with it. It’s not the absence of fact-checking algorithms during presidential debates that keeps us from voting for incompetent or dishonest politicians, but our intuition. Two factors primarily predict whether someone will win the presidency of the United States—the height of the candidate and whether we want to associate with them.

While AI-based internet platforms are a new type of technology, their impact on human behavior is consistent with previous evidence about the impact of other forms of mass media, such as TV or video games. , which shows a tendency to counteract ADHD. symptoms, such as impulsivity, attention deficit, and restless hyperactivity. As the world grows more complex and access to knowledge expands, we avoid slowing down to stop, think, and reflect, behaving like mindless automatons. Research shows that faster information gathering online, for example, through instant Googling of urgent questions, impairs long-term knowledge acquisition as well as the ability to remember where our facts and information come from.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to fight our impulsive nature or control our impatience. The brain is a very malleable organ, with the ability to become intertwined with the objects and tools it uses. Some of these adaptations may seem pathological in some contexts or cultures, but they are essential survival tools in others: restless impatience and rapid impulsivity are no exception.

Although we have the power to shape our habits and default patterns of behavior to suit our environment, if pace is rewarded over patience, then our assertiveness will be rewarded more than our patience. And if there is any adaptation surplus rewarded, it becomes a commoditized and overused energy, making us more rigid, less flexible, and a slave to our own habits, as well as less able to show the opposite type of behavior. The downside of our adaptive behavior is that we quickly become an exaggerated version of ourselves: we mold ourselves to the objects of our experience, expanding the patterns that ensure fit. If so, our attitudes become more difficult to act on or change.

When I first returned to my hometown in Argentina after spending a year in London, my childhood friends wondered why my pace was so unnecessarily fast—”Why are you in such a hurry?” Fifteen years ago, I experienced the same speed disconnect when returning to London from New York City, where the pace was much faster. Yet most New Yorkers seem slow by the relative standards of Hong Kong, a place where the button to close the elevator doors (two inward-looking arrows facing each other one) usually breaks down, and the automatic doors of taxis open and close while the taxis are still moving. Snooze, and you’ll really lose.

There may be limited advantages to increasing our patience when the world moves faster and faster. The right level of patience is always attuned to the needs of the environment and best suited to the problems you need to solve. Patience is not always a virtue. If you wait longer than you have to, you are wasting your time. If patience breeds complacency or a false sense of optimism, or if it fosters inaction and passivity, then it is not the most desirable state of mind and is more of a character responsibility than a muscle of mental. In the same vein, it’s easy to think of real-life problems that stem from too much patience or, if you prefer, benefit from a little impatience: for example, asking for a promotion is often a quick way to get one. it is to wait patiently for one; Avoiding giving someone (eg, a date, co-worker, client, or previous employer) a second chance will help you avoid predictable disappointments; and patiently waiting for an important email that doesn’t arrive can impair your ability to make better, alternative choices. In short, a strategic sense of urgency—which is the opposite of patience—can be beneficial.

There are also many times when patience, and the deeper psychological enabler of self-control, may be a necessary adaptation. If the age of AI seems disinterested in our capacity to wait and delay gratification, and patience becomes a lost virtue, we risk becoming a narrower and shallower version of ourselves.

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