- AI and the human brain both are blank slates whose functionality depends on what is loaded into them.
- Your capacity to navigate life depends on the quality of data and the “algorithm” loaded into your brain.
- Poor data or inept processing skills creates ongoing and progressive dysfunctional thoughts and behaviours.
- Your “trauma story” is not a “story”. It is a dynamic state, and you have a choice in directing it.
There is a striking similarity to computer-based learning called artificial intelligence (AI) and the human brain. AI has the capacity to process sensory input, analyze it, and arrive at conclusions as well as make decisions. There is also a marked difference in that AI cannot react to the internal sensations from the body’s physiology (body’s chemistry and function) because there are no neurochemical support systems for AI. Every living creature reacts to its environment through collecting sensory input, analyzing it by the millisecond, and the signals are sent out to regulate the physiology to that of “threat” or “safety.” These internal sensations are called “interoception,” and interpreting these signals is the basis for the evolution of human consciousness.1
Thoughts are a major form of sensory input and emotions are what you feel; they reflect your physiological state (how the body functions). Much of human physiology is regulated through the vagus nerve, which is close proximity with your facial muscles. Through a complex set of interactions, we are able to “co-regulate” with others with the first step being that of determining if the other person is “safe” or not.
AI can only react to electronic signals and can process them without any sense of threat or safety. Even if facial recognition could determine safe or dangerous, there would just be an electronic response that mimicked this state, but there is no chemistry to feel.
AI vs. your brain
The cognitive capacity of AI to accurately analyze vast amounts of data, and arrive at new insights, far outstrips the human brain. It can create art that elicits emotions (physiology) in humans, but another AI machine will be unable to “feel” anything. It also cannot co-regulate with another machine or human, although it may appear that way on the surface. For example, when patients were evaluated by an AI machine compared to physician, the AI machine was much more effective in allowing a patient to feel heard and safe.2 Of course, if a clinician is stressed and feeling rushed, the co-regulation will be in the wrong direction.
But here is the real problem with the human condition that is being highlighted by AI. It is clear that the effectiveness of AI depends on two core factors. The first being the quality of the data being inputted and second that the “rules” of processing the data or the algorithm.
For example, if you simply download the rules of chess into AI without any strategies of how to use it, nothing of significance will happen. For AI to develop a mastery of chess, the data and the approaches need to be “taught” by a chess master. Then it can analyze the approaches, mistakes, good moves, and eventually become a better player than the master.
What if you inputted the wrong rules or if you trained it with someone like me who really only knows the rules and can only see one or two moves ahead. There is little or no chance of the computer gaining enough experience to compete at a high level, much less become a grand master. The computer can improve on good and also enhance incompetence. In the business world, inputting bad data into AI costs industry a lot of money. AI is developing tools and approached to understand when bad data is being gathered and the results are not going in the right direction. Could it salvage my chess game someday? Maybe.
The human database
Let’s get back to the human brain. I often refer to David Eagleman’s book, Livewired, where he clearly describes the incredible neuroplasticity of the human brain.3 It will adapt to almost any input to optimize your chance of survival. But what he describes so well is how dependent we are on our parents for physical survival compared to most mammals. Even more clear is that ALL of our consciousness is constantly programmed every second from birth by sensory input from inside and outside of us. We are who everyone thinks we should be and eventually those “voices” become our own. There are an infinite number of data points and most of it is around molding our “identity”, behaviors, accomplishments, and surviving. Additionally, most of us are not taught effective coping skills and even fewer are taught to nurture joy.
Consider the extreme form of poor input and coping skills of being raised in an abusive environment. All a child needs from his family is to feel safe, be safe, educated, taught relationship skills, and feel nurtured. That’s it. That is not what many of us get. So, the download in our brains from the beginning is “flawed data,” we are not taught to process it, we are too busy surviving to feel safe, and we don’t have the skills to nurture creativity. So, our processing system is full of bad data, analyzed by the wrong set of rules, and our life trajectory may spiral out of control.
The real trauma story
Trauma is stored in your body, but maybe in a different way than you might think. There is a trend to develop a “trauma” story. The real trauma story is reflection of the trend of your entire challenging life. Your “personal AI” will continue to add dimensions and depth to it. You may be rapidly evolving in the wrong direction depending on what “data” has been loaded into it. This is especially true if your “processing system” is also flawed. It is ongoing until you become aware of the nature of the data that is contained in your brain up to this second and you learn more effective methods to process it.
There is good news in that by changing the nature of your input and the way you process it, you can program in any reality you wish. What doesn’t work is trying to rearrange the old data and “fix” the flawed operating system. The first step is becoming aware of the nature (not the details) of the data that has been downloaded into your brain. Equally important is understanding the ways of processing your input to break into these swirling circuits and get your brain moving in the right direction.
To have a good life, you must live a good life. It requires skills and practice.
- Damasio, Antonio. Feeling and Knowing: Making Minds Conscious. Vintage Press, 2022.
- Ayers JW. 2023. Comparing Physician and Artificial Intelligence Chatbot Responses to Patient Questions Posted to a Public Social Media Forum. JAMA Internal Medicine.https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2804309
- Eagleman, David. Livewired. Canongate Books, 2021.