What we create, creates us: How A.I. can unlock human potential and create business success.
Heidi Dangelmaier was in conversation with Etienne White, Founder and CEO of Possible. Some answers have been edited to fit a shorter format.
Growing up, Heidi Dangelmaier was a girl who saw the world differently.
“People would say ‘let’s think outside of the box’, and I would think ‘where’s the box?’” she tells me.
It was no surprise to those who knew her that she pursued a PhD. in quantum physics and AI at Princeton; becoming a scientist, inventor and designer.
Heidi has just completed a 12-year long ‘Girlapproved’ Experiment, the first all-girl scientific challenge; taking on classic models of science, marketing and economic growth, it culminated in Dangelmaier winning an award in 2018 from MIT’s Journal of Design and Science. The list of innovation clients she works with today is as impressive as her credentials: P&G, J&J, AT&T and Merck, to name a few. In an exhilarating recent conversation ahead of her upcoming keynote at SB’19 Detroit, she relayed to me the following:
What will you be talking about at SB’s Detroit Conference?
I’ll be sharing how companies can achieve business success by helping to support evolution, and how propelling us to our full human potential is the most guaranteed path to profit and market disruption.
We’ve discovered the deepest models of the human mind and experience ever known in science. Our work extends the metrics of objective science, opening new frontiers in growth economics, innovation and evolution. We can now show a direct link between doing universal good for humanity and achieving global growth for business.
What led to this breakthrough?
I could see the catastrophic dangers of humans getting science wrong, and I wanted to learn how we can use science to move humanity forwards.
Science is supposed to help us evolve, but science has faced a crisis of being since the creation of the atom bomb. Scientists asked themselves, what are we here to do? It can’t be to accelerate the extinction of our species. Yet so many scientific breakthroughs from the bomb onwards have had massive negative consequences. Additionally, the more progress we made specifically in quantum physics, the more our fundamental concepts like space and time appeared to be inaccurate.
The [creators] of Artificial Intelligence, Wiener and Simon, argued that living systems could not be expressed in the current models of rational thought and were concerned technology could make free-thinking humans into slaves.
Even our theories around genetics, which played a key role in military and economic theory, were reversing; with epigenetics, science realized that our genetics progress is as much about ‘how’ we adapt to our environment, and not exclusively about the physical genes we are born with.
What all these new theories pointed to is that science knows almost nothing of the human mind and its impact on evolution. Essentially, we still need to answer, ‘what does it mean to be alive?’ and ‘what is the nature of reality?’ The human mind is the oldest technology we have, yet it’s the technology we understand the least. Science has understood only about 4 percent of the human mind. So, we have not yet optimized our most powerful tool, and when you consider that as context, you can see why in many of our ‘major scientific breakthroughs’ we were actually ‘adapting down’ rather than propelling humanity forward, to optimize our true potential. So, I wanted to understand this better.
What is the critical thinking behind the new science?
While working at Princeton, I found myself among brilliant male scientists with many complimentary abilities. Yet, there were challenges that the men found hard, when the solutions came to me almost instantly. I could see solutions that felt intuitive, self-evident and yet that were outside my peers vision. I was also able to see the potential ‘hidden harms’ and unintended consequences that they seemed blind too.
The question I asked, the belief that had not been challenged was ‘are men and women different instruments’? and if so, would women innately have a perceptual, cognitive, linguistic, and creative potential, that has been left out of science? And if this latent capacity was to be harvested, could this be the link to extend our science, engineering, and cultural design?
I named this investigation the “Girlapproved experiment” I specifically recruited female artists and other “outside the box” girls. The fact is most of the thinking, design paradigms, languages and technology, that make up modern culture, and therefore also current AI, were created with and by male minds. And though it got us far, today we are at an impasse. I wanted to know if females possessed the latent intelligence to activate the next wave of progress. I found out that they do.
So what next? What is your ‘what if’ idea?
What if our best is yet to come? Today, humanity faces some scary issues; we’re all aware of the long list. The GirlApproved work provides deeper causal understanding of not only where we are and how we got here, but how to chart a better course and how to turn the mother ship around, with practical steps to guide us. Our research has unlocked the hidden language behind humanity’s inner needs and drives.
Our work reveals how thousands of years of cultural design was based on a mere 4 percent understanding of the mind — and we posit that, because of this, we created a massive design accident. Today’s reliance on data is exacerbating this unintended consequence, imagine, for example, an AI that is created solely by relying on the 4 percent.
Our 4 percent understanding of the world gave us the means to master matter; we’ve become experts at making and distributing it faster than ever before. But it did not give us an understanding of what humanity needed. We lacked the data to understand how to optimize ‘aliveness’ and engineer cultures to release our potential.
The other 96 percent is critical to the human experience; it sets a new path for growth. So, for business success and for brand marketing innovations, it’s foundational. The knowledge we can harvest from the inner mind becomes a platform for product development, advertising and technology. All areas of business can benefit from speaking this new language.
It affects how we conduct research, because now we are considering the ‘internal conversation’ and the untapped mind. Strategy has a new vector to spring from. Creative ideas including visual, verbal and stylistic content can be optimized for maximum effect.
In short, what we create, creates us, and if we continue using our 4 percent model, we are basically designing our own destruction. Using the language of the 96 percent, we can optimize human potential more fully. This represents a liberation of self — a world where we are genetically optimized, where truth is democratized, and we feel harmony in our innate ability to collaborate and co-create together.