Computers are already demonstrating they can augment—or even replace—human emotional intelligence
— Andrew Thomson


Let that sink in for just a moment.

To me, that’s a tragic prospect. There are implications to the concept of completely replacing human emotional intelligence. Let me explain just three potential consequences in more detail

Emotionality plays a vital role in the arts 

Andrew Thomson shares a comment from this article on robot bosses:

“Robots do not need to be able to feel in order to act in an emotionally intelligent manner. In fact, contrary to what people think, even in humans high EQ is associated with lower rather than higher emotionality. [High EQ] is about controlling one’s impulses and inhibiting strong emotions in order to act rationally and minimise emotional interference.”
— Professor Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

I don’t quite agree with this.

I understand emotional intelligence as using rational and emotional information to make the best choices. And what about situations when emotional interference enriches and elevates the entire experience?

Think about great works of art or music. Many of those were created by people who were working from a deeply emotional level. They weren’t necessarily thinking rationally—in fact, the behaviour of some great artists and musicians are documented in history as extremely irrational. Think about movies too. Think about movies which can incite the most intense feelings: stir your soul, uplift you to a different plane or provoke many tears. Even cinematic music is designed to engage our feelings. How different would your human experience be if movies were purely based on rationality?

Use it or lose it

At this point, I’ll invite you to think about something you used to be able to do really well. For me, it was speaking French. I was pretty fluent at the age of eighteen. Fast forward a few years in which I didn’t speak any French at all and I struggled to even articulate a basic sentence.

It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine the same could happen with emotional intelligence. If we replace humans’ emotional intelligence with computers, perhaps people will feel that there is no need to engage that part of their brain any more. Over time, we might lose the ability to use our emotional intelligence altogether. We would lose access to the valuable information provided by emotions when making a decision. Perhaps instead, we might completely rely on robots.

Fine in theory, but if you’ve ever seen a film where robots take over, this might not be the most appealing option for you.

Humans need EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE (EQ) for necessary connection with other people 

The competencies of emotional intelligence are crucial to building both personal and professional relationships. As one example, consider the differences in your connection with a high-empathy individual compared to someone with lower empathy. It makes a difference.

Relationships are important to humans. While computers can experience isolation without any ill effects, humans have a fundamental need to be connected with other people. Time.com reports that ‘research shows that relationships can improve health in a variety of ways, by helping us manage stress, improving the functioning of the immune system and giving meaning to people’s lives.

The opposite is also true: research consistently demonstrates the links between loneliness and an increased risk of death. If we lose the skills of emotional intelligence, we are missing out on opportunities to connect with others and adversely impacting our own life expectancy. 

It’s my hope that the tech wizards creating emotionally intelligence computers have considered all of these angles at least. If you’re of the same mind, remember that my services as a trainer and consultant are available to develop humans’ emotional intelligence.