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Friday, November 26, 2021

Principles for Innovative Engineers

Very useful principles below at the link, we worked with Rosalind Picard long ago ... 

What Every Engineer and Computer Scientist Should Know: The Biggest Contributor to Happiness

By Rosalind Picard     in CACM

Communications of the ACM, December 2021, Vol. 64 No. 12, Pages 40-42    10.1145/3465999

My teams at MIT and our spin-out companies have worked for years to create technology that is both intelligent and able to improve people's lives. Through research drawing from psychiatry, neuroscience, psychology, and affective computing, I have learned some surprising things. In some cases, they are principles we have embedded into technology that interacts with people. Guess what? People like it. After one year of the COVID-19 pandemic, I realize that the principles we learned apply not only to making smart robots or software agents, but also to the people around us. They give us lessons for how to live happier lives, and happier engineers are better at solving creative problems and have more fun.

Researchers have studied what brings happiness in life, and what, at the end of life, people wish they had done. While many factors contribute, do you know the biggest one?

Almost never late in life do people say: "I wish I had invented a smarter or faster device," "I wish I had made more money," "I wish I had given more TED talks," "I wish I had climbed higher in my business," or "I wish I had authored more books." Even this pinnacle of achievement is not uttered: "I wish I had written an article for an ACM magazine." Instead, almost always, people wish that they had done a better job at building meaningful authentic human relationships, and spending time in those relationships.

This finding is a general one, whether studying human happiness or end-of-life reflections. They apply to hard-working, well-educated computer scientists or engineers and also to many kinds of people, different races and cultures, rich and poor, male and female, uneducated or over-educated.

All of the patents, publications, presentations, and personal technical achievements can be amazing: They can literally save lives and bring immense delight, win us world acclaim, fill our shelves with awards, tally up clicks online, and even make our resumes impressively long. However, they all pale in comparison to something that is even more joy-giving: Achieving deeply satisfying, personally-significant human relationships.

How do you engineer great relationships? Here are three helpful principles you can test in your own life and relationships. If you build AI that interacts directly with people, you can build these principles into those interactions too. I learned these principles while trying to engineer more intelligence in machines, specifically computers with skills of social-emotional intelligence. The skills derive from studies of human relationships and they apply not only when the interactions involve two people, but also when one is a computer (including chatbots, software agents, robots, and other things programmed to talk with us). The three principles below can help improve relationships, human or AI.   ..... ....

(Full principles below)

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