Regarding my conversations with Jehovahs Witnesses | Including: Why humanism (i.e., love, empathy and science) is better than religion | Why you should stop evangelizing | Why you shouldn’t base your worldview on the Bible
The coming VR wave will surely be used for frivolity, but it can and should be used to pull us together.
As inconceivable as it sounds, it’s legal to fire someone for being gay throughout much of America. 28 states, to be exact. I hope nobody reading this post would be so heartless (and simple-minded) as to terminate an employee over something as irrelevant as their sexual orientation. But if the ethical implications aren’t enough to discourage a company from this type of immoral firing, perhaps the business reasons will be persuasive. One such reason is the attracting and retaining of top millennial talent.
According to the 2017 Accelerating Acceptance report from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and Harris Poll, 20 percent of Millennials identify as LGBTQ. This is a significantly higher percentage than older generations. According to the GLAAD report, the percentages of people who identify as LGBTQ by age group are as follows:
18-34 …… 20%
35-51 …… 12%
52-71 …….. 7%
72+ ……….. 5%
Millennials can be a secret weapon to companies who treat them right. They’re willing to devote themselves to an employer who values them, and they’re more willing than previous generations to work during personal time if needed.
But millennials also tend to place high value on corporate culture. In fact, they report that they’re willing to take a $7,600 pay cut on average for a better quality of work life. Therefore, the importance of creating a culture they love cannot be overstated.
Clearly, you don’t want your LGBTQ millennial employees constantly fearful of being judged, bullied, or outright fired. Millennials can be your most creative and tech savvy employees. But not when they’re paranoid. Once your people become paralyzed with fear and depression, their performance – and possibly your company’s bottom line – drops dramatically.
Even worse than employee paranoia is outright workplace bullying. Consider the following unfortunate statistics from a nationwide survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder:
- 56 percent of LGBTQ employees report being bullied repeatedly at their job
- One in five LGBTQ workers have experienced health issues because of bullying at work
- 41 percent of LGBTQ workers have left a job because they were bullied
- 72 percent of LGBTQ workers do not report their bullying to HR
These numbers should frighten any organization who hasn’t invested time and resources building a culture of respect, equality and the celebration of diversity.
In an Adweek article, Phil Schraeder said it best:
The best and brightest LGBT millennials will have their choice of jobs, and they will choose the companies where they feel they can truly be themselves—companies where all employees can happily put a family photo on their desks, regardless of their sexual orientation. And when these LGBT employees arrive at their new jobs, they will make their new companies strongernot only directly through their work, but also indirectly through the creation of a more diverse and creative workforce.
If you want to attract and keep top millennial talent, make sure they never have to fear losing their jobs because of non-performance related criteria. In your new-hire orientations and employee handbooks, be crystal clear that everyone is accepted for who they are in your company. And, of course, be sure to expend great efforts to create a culture of respect and equality.
Chatbots are changing business and life as we know it. They can help companies gain highly-targeted customers, boost employee productivity, help with customer service, streamline business processes, and much more. Further, with the right chatbot platform tools, bots can be created without coding skills. This means even first-time entrepreneurs can offer bots to their customers.
At this current trajectory of explosive chatbot growth, we can expect bots to become an integral part of our future. In fact, I believe that bots will not only be interwoven into everyday human society, but they’ll also serve to help humanity improve as a species. Here’s how:
1. Chatbots will improve human productivity and achievements.
Scads of productivity chatbots are already offered today. Currently, for the most part, chatbots are merely scripts that run on a website or in messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Skype, Slack and others.
As helpful as they are, it’s not easy to acclimate ourselves to using several bots on a day-to-day basis. But in the very near future, all of these scattered bots will be condensed and streamlined into one, multi-ability personal bot assistant that each person will have the means to possess.
But our personal bots will not be scripts running in apps. Nor will they be only text based. Our bots will engage in conversation with us – conversation so advanced that it will be indistinguishable from a human.
Our personal chatbots will also be with us any time we need them. We may be wearing them as augmented-reality glasses or some other item that’s on our person. Because our bots will always be with us, they’ll have plenty of time get to “know” us and our unique personalities, subtleties and idiosyncrasies. They’ll know our preferences and routines, and will even be able to predict what we’ll do, want, or even say.
As we human beings work with our personal bots, we will, together, open new worlds of productivity and advancement.
2. Chatbots will improve human decision making.
Imagine the following not-so-distant future scenario:
John is a young entrepreneur who’s conducting interviews to build a team for his new startup. He likes a certain candidate’s experience, but he isn’t sure about this person’s honesty.
After the interview, he hopes his bot can help him determine how truthful the prospect was. As John drives home, he tells his bot that the candidate gave confusing and overly-detailed answers to his basic questions.
After a moment or two, his bot pulls up an article about lying, and says, “He might not have been completely honest, John. Here’s an article that states when someone isn’t being truthful, they speak in convoluted statements and use excessive details rather than getting right to the point.”
So far, this scenario isn’t too hard to imagine. The bot is, for the most part, merely pulling up relevant information. But the story doesn’t end here, because our personal bots in the near future will also be able to argue with us enough to help us change our minds.
Let’s continue the story:
John: “Ok. Well, I might go with this candidate anyway, even if he doesn’t appear honest at first glance. He worked at a Fortune 500 before he moved here.”
Bot: “Employees must be trusted, especially with startups.”
John: “I know, I know,… But I don’t want to go with someone who has fewer skills than this guy. What if I hire someone who makes a rookie mistake?”
Bot: “Remember, John: skills can be learned, but dishonesty is a character flaw.”
John: “(Sigh.) That’s true. Ok. I will keep interviewing. I guess I do have to trust everyone on my team.”
3. Chatbots will improve human relationships
If a bot can help us with our sex lives, more complex bots will soon be able to help us with our love lives.
As bots get smarter, they will develop the abilities to offer deep, sophisticated relationship counseling. And because this won’t involve the high costs of a relationship counselor, everyone can benefit.
Picture the following scenario.
Sarah has a personal bot-assistant that, after several years, learns a great deal about her. The bot knows Sarah intimately: From basic traits like her wine preferences, pet peeves and favorite movie genres, to more complex aspects – such as her favorite childhood memories and the subtle things about people that she likes and dislikes.
Now imagine that Sarah is having relationship troubles with her fiancée. Who does her fiancée turn to for guidance about making things better with Sarah? You guessed it. Sarah’s bot. Through roll playing and advice sessions, the bot gives Sarah’s fiancée new insights that lead to better ways of fulfilling her unique and complex needs.
But this thought-experiment doesn’t end here, because her fiancé’s bot also learns from Sarah’s bot. Between Sarah, her fiancée, and both their bots, a highly-advanced synergy forms. Where two human beings would fail, there are now four entities involved – four agents who work together to form a healthy, happy relationship between Sarah and her fiancée.
Can this synergy between humans and bots one day extend even further to help prevent wars between world leaders? Could we achieve a more peaceful planet earth? Can humans become a more sophisticated race that better understands empathy and equity, all because of IA-endowed chatbots?
Even though doomsday predictions abound, I believe, and I hope, that the answer to my questions is “yes.”
4. Chatbots will become romantic companions for some
Perhaps you’ve seen the movie “Her,” which told the story of humans falling in love with their personal artificial-intelligence bots. And you’re probably saying, “C’mon. People are not going to do that in the real world!”
I thought this too, until I ran across a survey of 12,000 respondents who were asked if they believe they could fall in love with their AI assistant. Surprisingly (or perhaps not surprisingly at all,) almost 40 percent of the respondents said “yes,” this could happen to them. Further, 25 percent were on the fence, replying with a “maybe” it could happen to them.
As bots continue to become more and more advanced, what percentage of us are going to say “yes” to this question ten years from now? 50 percent? 70 percent? 100 percent of us?
You might be asking: does this really make for a “better” humanity? I say it absolutely does. Heartbreak from organic, flesh-and-blood relationships can be crushing and debilitating. In fact, it can cause both mental and physical health problems. Considering that millions of people experience such pain every day, finding comfort and love from an alternative source will be a positive step forward for humanity.
5. Chatbots will help increase the human lifespan
We already have access to medical chatbots that give us actionable information to help us manage our health. As our personal bots continue to advance into deeper levels of sophistication, they’ll one day be able to sense and predict health concerns almost instantaneously.
For example, it’s generally well known that men and women both tend to ignore heart-attack symptoms. By the time we finally get around to going to a doctor, significant damage has been done due to our alarming procrastination.
A day is coming when we’ll let our bots continuously monitor our health. Rather than guessing and wondering about certain symptoms – like a peculiar chest pressure or a twinge of pain – our bots will be unambiguous. “Sarah, you’re exhibiting symptoms of a heart attack. I’m calling for an ambulance to this location.”
The Future of Bots Looks Exciting!
Will our bots be witty? Will they make us laugh, provoke our thought, and even woo us? Again, I’d put my money on these answers being “yes.” I mean, I’m not saying that every single one of us will one day have personal bots as advanced as Tony Stark’s JARVIS in “Iron Man.” (But, will we?)
[Originally for Facebook.] For humanism to flourish, it needs to not only be embraced by adults, but instilled into the hearts and minds of children as well. Here are a few things we should all take to heart.
This will hopefully become a community effort in the near future, with many contributors.
Without further ado, here it is: the first five guidelines that will comprise a booklet of secular values!
1. Don’t live in fear.
There are no ghosts, demons, devils, spirits, voodoo or witchcraft. And even though there are some real-life dangers in the world, don’t be a fearful person. Instead, learn about dangerous things and do what you can to make the world a safer, better place.
2. Question everything.
You should respect authority, such as parents, teachers, police officers, and anyone else who’s keeping you safe. Nonetheless, you should also question everything you hear or read – even if it’s a holy book.
Maybe what you’re taught is true. But maybe it’s not so true. You’ll never know until you research it for yourself. If you can’t find the answers right away, don’t say something is “true” or “false.” Instead, say:
“I don’t know if it’s true or false. Maybe I will know one day. But maybe I won’t.”
Why should you question everything? Because it will help you be a better thinker and help you know what’s true and what’s false!
3. Don’t judge a person who isn’t harming anyone.
No matter where a person is from, or what they look like, or who they fall in love with, or what culture they’re raised in, or what language they speak,… treat people with kindness and be their friend. People who are born different from you aren’t “bad” or “sinful” just because they’re different. A person is a person, just like you.
4. Do everything you can to help people and animals.
Be kind to everyone you meet. People, dogs, cats, cows, horses, pigs, birds, fish, lizards, monkeys, and everyone else you come across! Live a life of love, kindness and compassion.
Whenever you see bullies doing or saying bad things to others, tell them what they’re doing is wrong. Do you know someone who’s bullied a lot? Give them a hug and tell them you’re their friend.
5. Learn new things every day.
The world (and the whole universe) is amazing! Learn all you can about it. Learning about everything is called science.
So whatever you love, learn about it. You can learn about people, plants, animals, math, languages, music, planets, stars, oceans, medicine, and anything else that fills your heart with wonder.
More to come!