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Artificial Intelligence can’t dance the Tango your way.

I have a good friend who was once an elite basketball player. He also prided himself on being somewhat of a Fred Astaire on the dancefloor. Apparently during his basketball days, the players would often find themselves at a nightclub. My friend’s signature move was the “sprinkler” – standing in the middle of the floor, strobe lights ablaze my friend would circle around with his hands outstretched and fingers flicking out like a sprinkler. I still have nightmares thinking about it.

I know that Artificial Intelligence has and will gift planet Earth. In the areas of medical science it is already aiding quality of life, depth research and insights into data analysis that are extraordinary. But, as with mobile phones, as with Internet use, as with anything that takes us away from the sacred ground of human to human or human to nature personal direct interaction – we need discipline, deep critical thinking skills and strong boundaries.

AI can’t know the heart of the parent who walks the hall ways with the crying child – nor the feel of hands in the earth as one gardens – nor the joy of a parent when shown their infant child’s stick art. AI can’t listen for a melody longing to be expressed from within the budding amateur composer – nor know the need for the half time oranges at Junior Football – nor sit by a palliative care bed and hold a loved one’s hand. AI can’t look into the eyes of a loved one and read the story there – nor giggle uncontrollably at a Kindy concert – nor blush awkwardly on a first date. AI can’t know the value of one step after another discipline as you make your way up a mountain climb – nor the dignity of knowing you chose right at a values crossroad – nor the heart touched joy at the mountain top vista at the end of a long climb. AI can’t stop in awe at the birth of a child – nor wonder at the dolphins dance – nor walk beside pain when no words needs to be said. AI can’t strive for your best and be proud of the journey – nor read the teenage mood swings – nor find faith and trust in the midst of confusion. AI can’t fall in love and clumsy your way through romance – nor smile at yourself in the mirror at your foibles – nor be captured by the majesty of a waterfall. AI can’t tear up as an orchestra reaches its crescendo – nor grimace as the child practices the recorder – nor know what tiny personal touch will mean so much in a gift. AI can’t write THAT letter that your heart knows needs to be written, beyond what some algorism whispers – nor give a speech that is authentic, real and you – nor roll around a floor and play dead with pet dog or toddler.

AI can’t do awe, pathos, empathy nor courage in its thousand faces. AI can’t teach hard work, fidelity, self discipline, self forgiveness, gentleness nor the need to just grieve. AI can’t hug nor hold, reach out or hold lightly. AI can’t replace the longing heart, the bursting with love and joy heart, nor the long lonely winter of struggle – from which a dawn will surely come.

I could go on. But despite all the potential that Artificial Intelligence has to enhance the quality of human life it can never replace the beautiful tango that is life. It can never replace the to and fro of the head, the heart and the hands. It can never replace the authentic human response that is just YOU, and beautifully you – and a you that is not perfect nor ordered nor logical nor right.

I always go to the counter and order and I call the human being wearing the badge and serving me by name. Never before have we needed critical thinkers who can champion the human response, the human heart, the OK messiness of life and the worth of a journey one step after another.

You and I are called to be those critical thinkers! It will be a sad day when my friend does not make his way to the centre of the dance floor and dance the ‘sprinkler’ his way – replaced by a large TV screen with some artificially enhanced model dancing a ‘sprinkler’ according to data imported by some robot devoid of the human heart.

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