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H2H in the Age of AI

  • June 3, 2024
  • 6 min read
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H2H in the Age of AI

I’ve been playing with and learning about AI this year. AI is going to disrupt everything and it’s coming a lot faster than we realise. What I learnt at Dale Beaumont‘s AI workshop, Reimagine Your Business, in March is that the processing power of digital technology used to double every two years. It’s now doubling every six months. How should we go forward into a world of post-truth? A world with a firehose, no, an industrial water pipe of information gushing at each of us?

AI workshop with Dale Beaumont
Reimagine Your Business event in Perth

I found this event informative and interesting but I don’t share Dale’s unbridled optimism for AI technology. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. One of the apps mentioned at Reimagine Your Business claims to be able to use a photo of the contents of your fridge to create a meal plan and shopping list. Not my fridge. I have kale microgreens thinned from the garden, green beans in a paper mushroom bag, homemade pine needle cough syrup in a maple syrup bottle and Umi’s mother’s miso in a honey tub. This app will only work if you buy everything from the shop. Is that the world you want to live in?

I think AI is useful for brainstorming, bouncing ideas around, research and summarising. It can create drafts, ideas and frameworks in seconds. It can plot routes, compare information and spit out data. It’s not that some of these tools are not useful. I’ve been having fun making AI images of my future garden on Canva (above) and experimenting with some business applications. But it can’t and shouldn’t tell your history, your story, what you did today or what’s meaningful to you. Let’s not link digital networks with human neural networks. Hold space for humans to be messy, forgetful, flawed and real. For slow time and deep listening and face to face.

Handpainted NVC journal, image of a woman holding all the parts of herself as precious gifts

Human to human (H2H in marketing lingo) connection is my jam. In the last two decades of marriage, divorce, selling handmade soaps at markets, running a small business with other women, hosting strangers in my home, coordinating permaculture festivals, exploring different forms of intimate relationships and solo parenting a high needs, defiant, neurodivergent son, I have felt like I was failing again and again. I’ve been through the fires of divorce, abortion, rape, heartbreak and family violence. I’ve had my identity burned to the ground and started again. I’ve wept in the red tent. And as painful as the burning was, my capacity in my forties now is far greater than in my twenties. I can hold more complexity, more parts of myself, more compassion, more paradox.

Planning NVC resources and business growth

Behind the scenes, I’m building Nonviolent Communication resources for men and online resources to grow NVC in the world. Part of this means publishing my words and photos online. As an author and content creator, I’m alarmed about the prospect of AI using or republishing my work without my consent or control. Should I continue publishing content? How will you know it’s really me? Because this month, you can still tell the difference. But that’s not going to last. In a year or two, anything online will be able to be remixed in such a sophisticated manner that written, audio, video and images can be made in the style of anyone and you won’t be able to tell. If my voice doesn’t belong to me, should I keep speaking up in this space? Is it fair of me to ask you to trust me online?
I have many dilemmas. Should I make my own LLM on my own computer so I can use AI’s ‘brainpower’ and generative speed without giving my data to multinational corporations? Should I exit social media? Should I include my face? Should I delete my apps? Does any of this even matter when many of the world’s leading tech experts predict it’s quite possible AI will wipe out humans faster than we can react or control?
I found this podcast about AI really interesting. The Emerald is my new favourite podcast. Looking at AI through the lens of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was a concrete way to see where we’re headed. There are some really good suggestions here about how to handle power (before you begin, learn the spell to switch it off). Don’t assume your life won’t change. You can’t just stick your fingers in your ears for this one or turn off your computer. Do you eat? Do you live near other humans? Do you use electronic devices? Do you breathe air? Then this can affect you. This is some existential level threat looming and it’s careening towards us faster than we know.

Rainbows in my bedroom through low winter sunshine

Even if the end is coming, I choose to live with fierce love. I will continue to create the world I want to live in as long as I have agency to do it. And if my content is copied, then I want as much content about real permaculture and real human connection out there as possible. Because what I’m seeing in apps, blogs and even printed books is the beginning of cookie-cutter concepts, the average of all data, generic advice and misconceptions. It’s obviously machine-made now but the quality will improve exponentially – but then what will happen in the new flood of content when generic AI starts to reference itself? I see many AI models are already being designed so the content they create is marked as AI to prevent it being used to train future AIs. And, despite people panicking about human job threats, social media and search engine algorithms treating AI content as less valuable and limiting its visibility. The system wants cheap, fast content but it still wants humans – at this stage. With the deluge of regurgitated data coming our way, human to human connection is going to become niche.

Hand on heart, me gazing at you.

In the end, what really matters is relationships. And AI can’t do this for us. Humans need other humans and we always will. It’s a mammal thing. Our human bodies are not designed to exist in boxes that transport us to wide-eyed to the most extreme events globally for all of our waking hours. Even in the metaverse, all our experiences are processed through our bodies. We must listen to our own nervous systems and to practice the H2H skills of self-regulation and resonance if we are to survive. Nonviolent Communication is the most useful tool I’ve found for human connection, including our relationships with ourselves. So that’s where I will put my energy next. More resources coming for that soon. In the meantime, go hug a real human, call your mum or tell someone how much they mean to you. Build your in-person networks. We need human connection now more than ever.

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rachel

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