Abhijit BhaduriGuest Author

Can we learn empathy from machines?

By | Abhijit Bhaduri | Founder, Abhijit Bhaduri & Associate

Sherry Turkle wrote a book in 2011 called Alone Together. The idea was that while #digital tech is connecting billions, it is missing the real human connection. The result: we are becoming more and more lonely. Our ability to empathise is an important part of the experience of being human.

In a world where we are getting used to speaking to voice assistants like Siri and Alexa, can we let technology teach us how to empathise? The computers provide an illusion of friendship without the demands that friends make.

“With people, things go best if you pay close attention and know how to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Real people demand responses to what they are feeling in that moment. And not just any response.”

In schools, children who are spending more time on gadgets are getting better prepared to spend more time gadgets – not humans. The teachers struggle to get children to talk to each other in class, to directly address and debate each other.

When leaders empathise with their employees, they fire “mirror neurons” in their followers brains. The language they use matters. Making eye contact matters. Fiona Kerr, the neuroscientists talk tells us just how much language can impact the brain.


Sherry Turkle  says, “They (machines) have not known the arc of a human life. They cannot put themselves in our place. They can only simulate what a human being might say. They feel nothing of the human loss or love or trouble we are describing to them.”

That’s perhaps what Gabriel Garcia Marquez meant when he says,

“It is enough to be sure that you and I exist at this moment.”

Silence can mean so many things. Could machines say so much through their silence?

What do you think?

Reprinted with permission & originally published by Abhijit @ http://www.abhijitbhaduri.com

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