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Learning to walk – walking to learn: Role of observation in an age of AI

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By Vijay Sekhon, Associate Professor and Lead, Interaction Design Discipline at AnantU

Automation took away manufacturing jobs, now it has come to the service sector. According to some estimates, fifty percent of all service sector jobs will be lost to automation. The current giant Artificial Intelligence’s ‘AI’ experiments are haunted by industrial design experiments gone horribly wrong; from the Nazi era to WWII to the climate catastrophe – we are all living through it. This memory is provoking a call for a temporary halt to AI development by the world’s leading scientists, academicians prominent citizens, etc. They all have asked to wait till the governments figure out regulations around AI. Historically in most cases, regulations have been in the favour of the big corporations, but governments need to take a more holistic and empathetic view keeping in mind the overall impact of AI on every section of society during policymaking.

One of the BIG dreams in the early years of the internet was to make it a democratic space and create a knowledge economy. However, it turned out to be hijacked in its evolution and became a clone of the dominant market system. So, the real fear is not about AI dominating human lives, but taking control of life’s every aspect, which might spin out of control.

Similarly, GenZ also wants to find ways to live the life they want but unlike their predecessors are facing new set of challenges such as earning livelihood or developing real relationships in a highly mediated and monitored environment created by AI.

Prof. Anne-Marie Wills said it quite aptly “We design our world, while our world acts back on us and designs us”. The most important question that the GenZ must be asking is what kind of world they want to build for themselves. Thinking and responding to this question will lead the GenZ to innovate, collaborate and work in a cross-disciplinary environment, thereby broadening their horizons.

Industrialized society forces everyone to think from the point of view of an efficient production system that maximizes profits. This view severely restricts an individual’s sense of being in the world and reduces them to think in terms of input and output. The innovation of AI has made the future of young people appear more grim.

This raises questions on how to re-design to live a more fulfilled life. What should be the focus of learning?
How to prepare for this uncertain future? What skills should one develop to face AI-created
challenges?
For re-designing, youngsters must redirect their attention to their surroundings and define their relationship with them. Observe and teach selves to learn in a true sense rather than simply learning a particular tool. Learn to decolonize mindsets and reconnect with a sense of wonder and joy — nurture and value unmediated relationships, breaking the illusion of looking at the individual self as an island. Indian philosophy and mythology are rich in its traditions, explaining the interpretation and interdependence of all life.

Dr. Amit Goswami in his book ‘The Quantum Doctor’ breaks down the creative process into four stages; preparation, incubation, insight, and manifestation. It is through these stages the youngsters can internalize, concentrate, develop insight, and in manifestation reduce the mind and body split. It is in this reduction of the split of the mind and body they become one with the subject and begin to really listen, see and experience.

It is through this process of internalizing they begin to discover that the creative process is more important than creativity. They begin to see that the instant image or text generation by AI systems is less impressive than the process of creating it. One can certainly use AI tools but not without a clear understanding of what it is for and what it is doing to individuals.

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