“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
The recent headline articles about the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential impact on our culture has reminded me of something I had written several years ago, a quote from Joe Grano, the former CEO of the Wall Street investment firm where I worked for many years. It was the late 1980’s, just when the internet was gaining traction in revolutionizing all sorts of commerce, creating fear among those in almost every industry that the new electronic age would render many human endeavors obsolete, and the financial services industry being at the leading edge of that fear was in desperate need of some common sense to calm those fears.
Thus, Mr. Grano’s message could not have been more timely when he reminded us all that, “people will always be in need of the advice and counsel of a fellow human being.” In other words, the internet with its vast wealth of information, and now AI and its ability to assimilate that information much faster than the human brain into logical narrative, still cannot replace the value and impact of human relationships. As one college professor noted in a recent article, “. . . though [AI] is a master of established, objective facts, it won’t ever be visionary . . . It’s clunky when it comes to subjective observations and nuances . . .”
Looking back, it is amazing how prophetic Mr. Grano’s message was all those years ago; for as much as the internet has become a fast and reliable source of information, and as AI becomes increasingly proficient assimilating that information into logical usage – prove me wrong on this – it is still lacking in one critical component contained only through a relationship with another human being, a heart – companionship, trust, compassion, love.
“It is not so much their subjects that the great teachers teach,” Frederick Buechner once observed about his most influential teachers, “as it is themselves . . . it is they themselves who left the deeper mark.” While AI may be able to impart the same knowledge of the teacher, arguably even more, it cannot replace the impact of the teacher’s humanity. As Mr. Grano said, “People will always be in need of the advice and counsel of a fellow human being.” For, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”