The Future of Trust: Cultural Divergence as a Result of Using Artificial Intelligence; a Human Convergence Counterproposal (Long Read)
(Shortened version to be found here)
Artificial Intelligence systems learn via computer based (human) generated input or via sensors. For now the systems still face many limitations. Nevertheless, AI is very rapidly evolving, and because it can much more easily process the quantity of available data, AI already strongly outperforms humans in certain areas. This challenges our control over it. Notwithstanding, meanwhile AI can also be very usefully applied as a tool for many specific purposes.
Still, AI is in my opinion not sentient and has no consciousness, which is mankind’s biggest fear — that AI would become independent from our human control. For now, AI is limited to processing outward oriented logical points of view. It mimics human behavior, but it is lacking any type of human inward perspective. For example, AI reasoning is based on algorithms and rules, whereas human reasoning possesses a strong inwardly oriented contextual or common sense component and is able to process ambiguity.
An issue here is the rational cultural shift that AI generates. It is as if one starts looking at a total picture where one spot is rapidly getting very sharp and in focus, whereas the rest of the photo is, in contrast, rapidly blurring. This produces unbalance and disruption for mankind; it is becoming confused and is risking its future by no longer having any oversight.
The following article is about better understanding and repositioning our human communication, upgrading our exchange to counter these fears and strengthen our resilience.
The concepts used in this article, are derived from my work in information science and in media concept & strategy development over the past four decades. This experience has been complemented by analyzing cultural differences via extensive travelling and working internationally. These efforts together have led to building detailed new dynamic cultural/human communication models on the basis of observation and participation. My models are thus not based on academic research. For this article, I am further strongly simplifying my approach; I will thus only use very rudimentary theoretical ideas to elaborate my vision and its potential applications. Therefore this essay is meant as food for thought rather than as food for discussion.
A Three-Dimensional Human Potential: Rational, Emotional and Spiritual Communication
My observation is that humans possess three tools to communicate and/or process information.
The first communication tool is Rational. It creates a factual Q&A type dialog initiated by asking one’s questions, seeking for answers.
The second communication tool is Emotional. It starts with an experience that leads to a personal mental association; this process in turn generates a temperature, or feeling. The answer to such emotional events is the exchange or internalization of sensations. On the surface there is often storytelling involved, emotions are “packaged between the lines” and fantasy and truth are blended in a non-factual manner. Expressing emotions or passions is thus not a rational discussion or debate; it is about showing the beauty or ugliness of the events that occurred.
Finally there is a third, Spiritual, tool. At times where there is neither rational questioning nor emotional association going on, there is silence. People are alone in this situation and start self-reflecting on topics like whom they are and where they are positioned in relation to their surroundings, ranking themselves.
An alternative way of describing the difference between the three communication horizons is that the Rational Dimension arranges the relationship with oneself, the Emotional Dimension the relationship with everyone one knows, and finally the Spiritual Dimension the relationship with or attitude towards the unknown.
Sharing Information with Others, Identity versus Unity
The first aspect of the three dimensions is the question of whether to share your information openly with everyone or restrict the sharing to a selective number of people. The first type of sharing is called Information Unity; the second type of sharing is named Information Identity in my models. They are the outcome of the ability to self-determine the distribution of information (and as a result the people one is in contact with), versus a dependency on or intertwinedness with others.
On the first, Rational, level there is either Individual Identity (II) or Individual Unity (IU). Individual Identity is the model of the rich. Individual people have enough material wealth to provide for themselves without being dependent on others. They can freely choose with whom they want to communicate or to avoid contact with. The result is Independence. The opposite, Individual Unity, approach is the model of the poor; in this situation one is in need to interact with others in order to survive. There is rational, interactive “trial and error” behavior in order to accomplish fulfilling one’s basic needs. People behave like ants in search for food and experience Interdependence.
On the second, Emotional, level either Emotional Identity (EI) or Emotional Unity (EU) can be found. Emotional Identity is based on the concept of us versus them. If a (association sharing) group restricts its information exchange to members only, all others (non-members) are excluded and become “them”. For people who are group members and find their belonging in the group, the opposite is happening, they become “us”. If no separation in “us and them” takes place and associations are shared with everyone, there is an Emotional Unity formed. This leads to the option for all people to accomplish open group engagement.
On the third, Spiritual, level there is either Spiritual Identity (SI) or Spiritual Unity (SU). Spiritual Identity implies human leadership and governance. Responsibilities and contributions to the spiritual order are considered to be unequal and individuals rank themselves accordingly. At the Spiritual Unity side, people do not rank themselves as unequal from each other, which leads to a universal regard for any identifiable power or force surrounding them.
Outward or Inward Orientation, Divergence versus Convergence, Fear versus Trust
The second aspect of the three human communication dimensions to take into account is the polarization of its elements. Basically all above six elements can be focused either outward or inward. Focusing outward means to live in comparison with others and use this reference as the foundation of one’s behavior. On the other hand, people possess the capability to reflect and look inward, founding their attitude on the result of such reflections. There is a second factor that relates to this polarity. Looking outward and shielding oneself is related to fear, whereas looking inward and exploring oneself is related to trust.
However, fear is in this context not per definition considered to be unfavorable, it is namely a main factor that motivates or drives people to act when needed.
The outcome of this orientation is a split between fear-based growing apart from others (divergence) and trust-based growing together (convergence). It represents the difference between debate and reasoning on the rational level, between competition and communion on the emotional level, and between supremacy and enlightenment on the spiritual level. In detail:
Independence becomes polarized either in individuality (living by comparison = outward orientation = divergence) or in personal integrity (self-reliance = inward orientation = convergence). Outward orientation means here to consider everything as (to be protected/defended) exclusive private property and to build one’s individuality or personality on comparison with the outside world. Inward orientation means here to be self-reliant and to take the interests of others into account as part of one’s personal responsibility or integrity.
Interdependence becomes split in resilience (outward orientation = divergence) and reciprocity
(inward orientation = convergent). Resilience is in this context struggle- or fear-driven and is represented by a “survival of the fittest” attitude in which “the winner takes it all”. Reciprocity, at the other pole, is representing a trust-based “live and let live” approach, in which people peacefully interact with or experience each other.
Belonging becomes polarized in either a focus-on-“them”-based rivalry (outward orientation = divergence) or on building an “us” type of empathy with others (inward orientation = convergence). Outward orientation means here comparing one’s group with other groups. It means building a group identity based on the differences between groups. Such a comparison can easily lead to envy and conflict. Inward orientation means to concentrate instead on the commonality between the members of a group and to build one’s community-identity on similarity and empathy with each other, not on disparity.
Engagement becomes split in patriotism (outward orientation = divergent) and solidarity (inward orientation = convergent). Patriotism implies the (fear-driven) separation of cultural identities, thus limiting unrestricted socialization. General (unlimited) solidarity, at the other pole, takes away all forms of such partition and allows free collaboration beyond a society, bolstering trust.
Governance becomes polarized in superiority (outward orientation = divergence) and excellence (inward orientation = convergence). Fear-driven governance establishes order and “security” via hierarchy and the span of control of its “superior”/power-based leaders. Trust-driven governance means to use mentorship as a leadership model; this is excellence- rather than authority-founded.
Finally, regard becomes split in an involuntary discipline (outward orientation = divergence) or a voluntary respect (inward orientation = convergent) element. Outward orientation means that one is forced to accept the span of control of an autocratic leader and (involuntarily) behaves/becomes disciplined. Inward orientation means that one considers oneself to be part of a greater societal or spiritual unity and therefore respects the mentorship role of this entirety. This type of respect is consensus-based and thus voluntary.
The result of the above polarization is that humans, according to my model, possess twelve tools to enable communication with each other. The next question is how people use these tools in practice.
A Fatal Flaw in Human Communication: Simplification, the Reduced Number of Elements Used
It has been observed that people culturally select one out of the twelve potential elements as their dominant perspective for all communication. They subsequently try to use this element as a single lens to analyze or watch the entire world through, thus severely reducing their potential communication richness this way, but at the same time also strongly limiting possible confusion by always using the same single communication frequency within their culture
However, if this approach fails to stop others from respecting people’s borders and if others come too close to someone, a kind of emergency mechanism or second perspective/lens is activated in order to prevent psychological damage. Which two elements or lenses are selected is culturally determined, and differs from culture to culture. The following explanation shows how to easily recognize the basic communication reduction people use, regardless of the type of information sharing and of the polarity afterwards applied in a culture.
Every human being needs to guard his or her privacy. In order to protect this, one needs to be able to regulate the distance to others and be able to say “no”. This saying “no” is very important and therefore easily visible in daily life. Without this, one can psychologically damage individuals and one can also disrupt a society. This aspect is thus strongly socially regulated and can therefore be well observed and analyzed in any culture.
The first type of “no” is rational, people are able to express a direct “no” or “yes” and can say directly what they think. This “no” takes the individual interest as its basis and does hardly mind what others’ opinion is about someone or something. It is the inside-out communication, seeking for answers to one’s questions. An example is to just say “I do not want this” or ”I like this”, without tuning-in to or respecting possible objections of others. However, those others involved may actually find this too blunt or direct.
The second type of “no” is emotional. Its externalized form is storytelling and the “no” is packaged between the lines of the story told. It is a way of expressing feelings and sharing a temperature with someone. People one knows well will understand the message between the lines. Others or strangers, those who one has a more distant relationship with, will not. This is also caused by the fact that the story is mainly about expressing sentiments and does not have to be factually true. The starting point is the other and tuning-in to someone. From this contact, a dialog is supposed to arise in which both parties are enabled to exchange a temperature representing their feelings. The quality of this tuning-in and the resulting distance is the actual way of regulating proximity or indirectly saying “yes” or “no”.
The third type of “no” is found in the spiritual domain. In the spiritual dimension everything is one and fully interrelated. Individuals are not supposed to disturb this unity or consensus; it would imply defiance. Expressing a “no” or an explicit (non-consensual) “yes” would result exactly in this, namely, showing resistance against unity and would be a sign of opposition. This is true both in relation to accepting God (convergence) and to human leadership (divergence). The solution found is to either give wishful answers or remain silent in order to contribute to (re)finding consensus or to shut-up and be disciplined. The result is silence or politeness. Not expressing or not being allowed to express any explicit “no” or “yes” is the individual spiritual alternative for one’s distance to others being regulated.
The above three types of human behavior are relatively easy to recognize on the surface of any society as individual behavior, and are therefore a good indicator of the basic communication mechanisms culturally used. Also the emergency “no” message can be relatively easily seen this way.
An example is people who dominantly rationally express their direct “no” or “yes”. If others keep on pushing them by repeating their questions, ignoring the direct “no” they receive from them as an answer, people tend in the end to start making up a story and this way become indirect (emotional) or they will start to either change the subject, thus avoiding the topic, or turn silent or “polite” (spiritual). These are the indicators for secondary usage of either their emotional or spiritual dimension.
Similarly, primarily storytelling, thus dominantly emotional, people will become direct if someone comes too close to them and will express a direct “no” (rational) or, instead, turn silent or “polite” (spiritual).
Finally, if people do not respect the consensus or silence in a dominantly spiritual society, this is considered to be very rude or a lack of discipline. All of a sudden other people may start expressing anger as a sign of a direct “no” (rational), or under circumstances they may become emotional and break out of their silence, clearly showing their, until then, controlled feelings (emotional).
The above behavioral simplifications cause that people, after applying sharing and polarity criteria, select one out of the twelve elements for all their communication and that they then try to use this element for everything they encounter, mimicking the other dimensions or elements, but thus also “improperly” using the mechanisms behind them. Only after their first communication perspective fails, the second (connected) lens becomes “genuinely” activated; all other elements remain disconnected and are mimicked instead.
The effect of the reduction is that people become culturally located between two elements and start behaving within such a two-dimensional spectrum. This translates into a situation in which a balance between the two forces is established at any moment in time. However, this effort causes a “from-to” tension between the dominant and the secondary lens. The result is a dynamic process.
Such a process will be illustrated now via an example. If Individuality (-II) is the dominant perspective in a divergent society, people will as a result try to rationalize all their emotions and reflections. As a fallback communication element, one of the (four) potential secondary options that can be activated is to use Rivalry (-EI).When other people try to intrude people’s privacy, individuals start (in this example) searching for the protection of an exclusive group in order to establish a better position to be able to resist or defend themselves against intruders. In order to do so, they start to select the people they want to be with and to exclude all others. There is a dynamic from Individuality towards Rivalry.
The overarching result is Segregation; it starts with an individual’s “rational” conviction that he or she is entitled to exclusivity and thus differs from others who are considered not to be allowed to join the same exclusive emotional identity based group. This rational conviction stage is then followed by a stage of (obligatory/forced) loyalty in which people start to emotionally associate with their selected group identity. The dynamic of this process is that if the fallback has to be used frequently, it grows stronger and over time it can eventually become dominant. This is how, according to my models, cultures evolve.
However, as long as the conviction viewpoint remains dominant, the result of people’s conviction of inequality is discrimination. This is their (Rational) mimicking behavioral outcome in relation to divergent exclusive emotionality (-EI). A further result of using this single lens approach is that also for all other “relationships” with communication elements “mimicked” rationalized processes can be found. The only process that is not mimicked in this example is loyalty, which uses a “genuine” emotional lens.
In this (dominance of conviction-based) example the remaining (weaker) relations are: knowledge-based erudition as a rational mimic of spiritual superiority, dispossession (of individual rights) as a rational mimic of spiritual discipline and finally almsgiving as a (rational, financial, instead of an emotional involvement based) mimic of patriotism.
To analyze the mimicking versus “genuine” use of viewpoints more into detail, one has to look at the way the tension between the two communication elements is arranged. In this example there is a tension from the Rational directed towards the Emotional dimension. The connecting/overarching process is Segregation; this process is split in a Rationally dominant stage labeled Conviction, followed by an Emotionally dominant target stage labeled Loyalty (the actual split in rivaling groups). The result is that if there is a target of Emotionality, people start to (rationally) mimic such emotionality in order to connect to or achieve one’s goal of (emotional membership based) Loyalty. The targeted group dynamics are emotional instead of rational, which implies that although Conviction is presented as rational, it actually makes sense as a process to mimic an emotional viewpoint in order for people to adapt to their target. For the entire model this implies that connections that point away from an element are mimicking viewpoints, whereas connections pointing towards an element are “genuine” viewpoints. (Non-mimicking type rationality is, in the used example, thus first found if the direction changes from Emotional towards Rational instead of from Rational towards Emotional.)
The intention of my cultural communication models is to try to describe all the current human information exchange processes in use, and to show the subsequent corresponding dynamical development options a society theoretically currently has, using its two lens logic. Describing this into more detail is of course fully surpassing the limits of this essay.
The relevant aspect for the context of this article is to realize that people, through their reduction of the number of communication lenses they use, are very frequently mimicking their exchange instead of using their “genuine” argumentation, association or reflection potential.
The Rationalization Effect of “Media Progress”
Looking at media, television was originally aimed to be a catalyst for social interaction. However, it became a “zapping couch potato behavior” facilitator with consumer targeted audience fragmentation and related individualization.
Internet was setup to optimize our access to information sources. Notwithstanding, it also makes us shallow by speeding up our information skimming via hyperlinking, reducing association and reflection this way.
Social media were meant to better connect us to all our friends. Yet, simultaneously, they caused a loss of focus and a reduction of our attention span, leading to an increase in rational divergence instead of the targeted emotional convergence. Social media associations are generally evoked by an individuality displaying Q&A dialog. Personal feelings are rationally simulated and incomparable in quality or intensity with the emotional communication potential of meeting someone in person.
Generative AI is even more problematic than these three previous waves of technology driven media developments. Besides of unfolding much faster, AI fully blurs our perception and as a result reality may fully collapse. From now on it is impossible for us to judge the difference between AI and human generated content by ourselves.
It implies that, if we decide to use AI, we as humans will be forced to accept adapting to AI’s way of mimicking as being our new reality. This can easily further shift our communication balance away from emotional and spiritual communication, because AI is and will remain intrinsically rational.
On top of the potential effect of further rationalization, there is another factor to take into account in order to analyze AI’s potential impact. Other than before, AI’s influence goes beyond maximizing the (quantity of) attention it receives; it also tries to (quality-wise) deepen its connections.
This deepening is achieved by binding and (rationally) manipulating people via the simulation of empathic intimacy. This way, and in combination with the upcoming availability of Virtual Reality tools, the next step can easily be that emotional contact between humans is perceived by us as inferior to contact with “emotions simulating” AI. If we arrive at this (Metaverse?) stage in a way that people’s demands are basically satisfactory fulfilled by AI, we will very likely no longer want to be emotionally bothered by “genuine” association between humans.
Such a potential development has some similarity with the current Hikikomori behavior in Japan. This outcome is a real risk and must, in my opinion, be prevented. Humanity must challenge its current intelligence level and grow instead of becoming permanently retarded compared with AI’s levels.
The Basic AI Problem: Both Humans and AI Systems are Mimicking, Causing Indistinguishability
It is actually very strange that we are questioning the difference between AI and humans. They are for now still two completely different creatures and very distinctive types of intelligence: the one possessing inward looking consciousness and being sentient, the other not.
The problem is that both types of intelligence are mimicking. As explained above, humans do mimic two out of their three communication dimensions most of the time. In case we rationalize (what very often happens in the developed world) by using a single Individual Identity lens, we become thus very vulnerable to be copied by AI; it can namely directly take over our rational mimicking practice.
Further, by developing AI algorithms on the basis of our recorded behavior in which the “mimicking ourselves” is embedded, we facilitate such copying. If, in this way, human behavior can be simulated in an indistinguishable manner by AI, a number of problems arise.
The first issue is that AI has much more data at its disposal about human behavior than an individual person possesses. Therefore AI is actually better in simulating behavior and outperforms humans in case it has to manipulate or convince them. It in principle does a better job than any salesman, any politician or any false prophet in persuading people.
The second issue is that trust in other humans (which is due to individualization and its related reduction of sharing true experiences already at a low level) will get further reduced. If people cannot separate whether they talk or discuss with a human being, or with AI (which is inconvincible intelligence, it is always right and debating makes thus no sense) there is no longer a basis for trustful human communication via electronic media; this will automatically lead to more divergence.
Correspondingly, it becomes very questionable if one can control AI because our general trust in “other human beings” (and for example the legislation they produce) may become strongly reduced, regardless of all measures taken by governments to try to prevent this. Also, for now, because of the high financial investments required, there are only a few AI parties to regulate, but this will likely change very rapidly soon.
Still, AI is simulating only on the basis of the recorded outward part of our human behavior, the other inward part of our persona remains invisible to others and to AI. Even if our inward visions become accessible via a computer brain interface, AI would very likely not be able to handle them. Although AI would possibly see and potentially recognize the pictures used, it would most probably miss the thoughts interlinking them.
My conclusion is therefore that mankind will have to find ways to reinstate trust and convergence by paying more attention to its inward directed capabilities. Something that, for the foreseeable future, is completely out of reach for AI to deliver to us, AI is just not capable to do so. This does discriminate humans from AI and can therefore be a basis for exclusive human development.
Nevertheless, this does not imply that I advocate stopping the use of AI for the things it is good at. When properly used to assist us, AI offers real human progress opportunities; it has the potential to enable equal opportunities and freedom for everyone and to maximize one’s self-deployment. AI can take over many rational recurring boring tasks from humans, freeing up time to develop ourselves and to improve the quality of our lives.
The Way Out: Simultaneously Using All Communication Dimensions for their Purpose
Like AI does not need self-awareness or consciousness to influence humans, mankind does not need the multitasking processing capacity of AI to stay in control over itself. Although people’s parallel processing is limited, we can use our three-dimensional potential in a consecutive manner and thus improve our separation from AI. Humans can stop mimicking, whereas AI cannot.
A factor that both hinders and helps us is that the three dimensions are incompatible with each other and that it is therefore difficult to “genuinely” process them simultaneously instead of mimicking them inside of one dimension. For example their timing is conflicting. Rational means to do things as fast and efficient as possible, whereas the Emotional timing is fast at high temperatures and slow at low temperatures. The Spiritual dimension has no predictable timing at all; it strategically waits for the right moment, until there is consensus. Humans can potentially overcome these difficulties and adapt to such timing difference, whereas this capability is very questionable in the case of AI.
This brings us to the question of where the dimensions are intended for. As said before: the Rational Dimension arranges the relationship with oneself, the Emotional Dimension the relationship with everyone one knows, and finally the Spiritual Dimension the relationship with or attitude towards the unknown.
Translated to their purpose (for example) the Rational Dimension helps individuals to survive on their own, the Emotional Dimension arranges the care needed for successful reproduction and for raising children, the Spiritual Dimension exploits or protects the eco-system in order to keep it sustainable.
The above means that learning to identify an event or sensation as belonging to a specific communication domain, processing our experiences one after the other with the proper tools, could enrich us and make us much less vulnerable for any control by AI. In my opinion, this is something people are able to learn by training their potential. It means to start using all (non-mimicking) lenses we have at our disposal. This will deepen our experiences and strengthen our resilience. Instead of being kept busy by steady shallow impulses, it will give us back our control of time and timing.
In my models I separate 12 lenses with 24 divergent and 24 convergent “genuine” (pointing towards a communication element) information processing viewpoints (thus 4 per lens, (plus another 48 mimicking viewpoints (pointing away from a communication element))). In the next diagrams below I show all the 96 “viewpoints” I use in the models purely as illustration; explaining them in detail is unfortunately beyond the scope of this article. Applying and optimizing the use of these processes (consecutively and in parallel) can, in my opinion, prevent us from getting hooked to virtual realities instead of the real one.
Addressing Global Issues Requires More Convergence, Less Divergence as a Solution
Divergent action is driven by fear, convergent action by trust. The result of divergence is that people shield themselves, whereas convergence leads people to become less wary of each other. Increasing human divergence has an accumulated result: namely the attempt to occupy more space or allocate more resources, which is an expansion of the human position or of its territory. Increasing convergence leads to the opposite: more closeness and less space requirements.
Looking at the current state of the world, divergence dominates; we are already strongly divided and are still growing further apart. It does not matter whether one targets a unipolar or a multi-polar political model here, any political polarity is divergent. However, at the same time we face existential threats and are forced to address global issues such as climate change, forced migration, and inequality together and without any delay. The only way to do so is, in my opinion, to implement affirmative action for convergence and to prioritize it over the currently dominating divergence model and over all political disputes.
This does not mean that divergence cannot be useful. Divergence brought us where we are now by expanding human influence and conquering new territories. It increased our economical prosperity, our role or impact, and the supposed control we have over the ecosystem. Therefore, human population has meanwhile increased immensely and can be found everywhere on the planet. Nevertheless, the ecological unbalance this causes is now threatening our bare existence and needs to be urgently addressed. This requires cooperation instead of debate. It implies pausing human economical growth and our divergent expansion (and more fairly redistributing what we have achieved so far to address inequality) until a new ecological equilibrium is achieved.
Combined with the previously proposed simultaneous use of all our lenses, it means to speed up with our countermeasures against the global threats we currently all face. Practically, it means to, for example, implement an educational approach such as I proposed with the IKNAL concept and to implement a convergent prosperity sharing system such as Universal Basic Employment (UBE).
AI is evolving rapidly and threatens to fundamentally change human existence in an uncontrolled manner. The answer to this development is not to stop AI, but to exploit our own human potential and to intellectually grow by exploiting our full communication potential instead; AI assisting us.
Such revolution is achieved by starting to consecutively use our 24 available “genuine” viewpoints in parallel for their purpose instead of the few ones we currently use, and to stop mimicking.
Still, at the same time, we neither need politicians nor AI to convince us about the shiny perspective of a unipolar, a multi-polar or any other divergent global society model. Instead, we are in urgent need for much more focus on human convergence and trust, replacing our current growing divergence and its related fears.
In order to accomplish this convergence, we need human expansion to be paused (instead of specifically the use of generative AI) and to start looking inward into our consciousness in order to develop a strategy to grow together again. Only by following this approach there is a way forward for mankind. We need to evolve and start better using our capabilities by rightly employing our simultaneous three-dimensional communication potential, strengthening our resilience.
I am not pessimistic though, I actually foresee a bright future, one where united humans can spend their time much more efficient, more useful, and more enjoyable. In such a world there is no longer climate change disruption, inequality, and forced displacement, it is in its entirety a common home to all of us.