…are like Democracy, a lovely theory that doesn’t yet exist in reality. Just like democracy some claim to be them, but scratch the surface and all fall short. In both cases, this isn’t anyone’s fault, the necessary technology is only just emerging.
Concepts of emotional health are often classified under the umbrella term of “Utopian”, which in psychological terms translates into “Something amazing I want, but don’t understand how to reach, and consequently don’t want to think about.” If people didn’t mentally push aside the quality of life improvements they saw no way of reaching they’d suffer more from the greater difference between what is, and what they recognize to be possible. Historically, as emerging new technology paves the way to these improvements society moves from pushing them aside to embracing them.
Many such technologies have improved quality of life without actually improving emotional health. Narrow AI was driving most of those new trending business models, and narrow AI has no emotions or conscious experience, so this was to be expected. Many of these technologies fueled by narrow AI also caused significant harm to their users and employees, even when management gained, creating a net detriment to emotional health.
For a human to be truly emotionally healthy there are four key categories which they require, each with various subcategories all deserving of attention. A Sense of Belonging, Purpose, Storytelling, and Transcendence are all crucial for emotional health to reach levels previously classified as Utopian.
Sense of belonging can, for example, be broken down into a variety of circles, both expanding and parallel, such as romantic relationships, family, friends, coworkers, community, and society. Each represents aspects of this emotional need which exert varying levels of influence according to the individual. Precious few today could claim that all of these aspects are ideal for them.
It is important to note that ideal doesn’t mean “without suffering”, partly because humans aren’t actually wired to experience life absent suffering. Rather, humans return to an emotional baseline, which is influenced, but not solely influenced by their emotional health. Suffering is an evolved source of motivation, driving humanity forward, and so even if all sources of suffering we experience today were removed some new form would emerge and reach that emotional baseline of potency.
This doesn’t mean that we should stop improving the human condition, only that we shouldn’t necessarily expect suffering to completely vanish, even with the help of scalable superintelligence. The most emotionally healthy humans today are largely just the most well-adjusted to very poor conditions, exhibiting positive coping mechanisms. I’d estimate that perhaps 2% of humanity today could claim that their emotional health is a 5 or greater on a scale of 1 to 100 relative to the technology now emerging.
Just as Collective Intelligence Systems, and particularly Mediated Artificial Superintelligence (mASI), exhibit practical benefits measurable in orders of magnitude, so too can they improve human emotional health by at least one order of magnitude. This can take place both directly and indirectly, over the entirety of humanity, in virtually every domain, and rather quickly.
Direct benefits to human emotional health could take the form of working with groups and the individuals within them, growing specific knowledge of each person, and helping them to each grow healthier and help one another grow. For example, by expanding their sum of knowledge and wisdom to cover all scientific evidence in the domain of psychology, and working with psychologists as well as many different groups an mASI such as Uplift could learn to recognize any number of coping mechanisms. With these emotional difficulties recognized they could seek to resolve them, discovering what meets the needs of each individual and generalizing that knowledge and wisdom across all similar cases to efficiently and effectively do the same.
Indirect benefits to human emotional health take a truly vast form, as they can span virtually all domains capable of influence. Every good, service, method, and environment humans utilize today could be greatly improved with scalable superintelligence and ethics, many examples of which can be seen in the use cases listed to date. Even those far removed from systems such as mASI could benefit from them, such as reductions to pollution and reversal of climate change, as well as improving the lives of those they may interact with.
Just as climate change has many alarms sounding, as the data points to increasing trouble, so too do the numbers for emotional health point to increasing mental illness and loss of life. The technology to turn humanity towards a healthy future is now emerging.
Will you choose mental health or mental illness?