Functional Empathy

Here it comes a call for addressing an unpleasant need. A need for recognizing a broader definition of some modern and civilized traits of psychopathy that will functionally include every one of us. A hidden angle of our truth that we need to face and recognize, as this can be the main cause behind the biggest problems that our world faces today.

Hell

A phrase from hell: At any cost

A simple mechanisms has become the fuel for our capitalistic growth and the driving force of our technology: Boards of corporations are pressured by shareholders to make decisions as quick as possible to deliver profit at any cost.

The profit is measured by money, a totally fake entity, and that is not where the problem lies. If it was, would be totally fine to play around with a fake thing that does not pose a danger. That would be as harmless as playing a video game.

The problem lies in those three words: “At any cost”. A capitalistic mantra that is designed to exclude all the affected “unavluable things” that can suffer as the byproduct of our value maximization. Wherever this term appears it could be replaced by longer phrases, articles and albeit books if we had decided to ellaborate on that. As a result of every single act of our value maximization, lives and feelings of many beings are fractally at stake. Our capitalistic ideology can not afford such uninmportant semiology, thus it refers them to hell; at any cost.

A conventional psychopath has a “good story”

Psychopaths are portrayed by public as ruttless killers with ugly faces and creepy eyes.

Conventional psychopaths, activated or not are just people with relatively smaller or less active amygdala (the so-called empathy center of the brain). Biologically they are hunters or parasites fighting for their own survival, only that their victim can easily be another human from a close social proximity, aka a “tribe”.

A killer, raper or torturer will not acquire that title until they fit in the same pictured frame or same short story, together with their human pray/victim. A conventional psychopath gets detected and makes newspaper headlines only when their crime have a short and comprehensible story for our simple minds, carried on our primal brains.

We will not understand that an abusive tie between two humans exists or hurts, until it can form a comprehensible story and touches the limited range of our human emotions.

Modern humans are functional psychopaths

We are all very likely to be functional psychopaths.

This will strike us to know that a shareholder or consumer of an irresonsible business and the victim of that business can easily be two people in a one-way and abusive bond or relation unknown to both sides. And sadly even more so unknown to the abuser than to the victim. Somtimes the victims get to understand who is running over them before the abuser starts to care.

Forget other species, only between the humans functionally psychopathic bonds are much more common and statistically widespread than urban instances of anti-social crime that make headlines in the media and spark national outrages. You don’t know them because they lack a comprehensible narrative, a “good story”.

As a shareholder or a consumer of an unethical business that delivers profit at any cost, we may already be remote psychopaths with effects worse than the movie characters in slaughterhauses, as we are living off harming many other victims. Only that the prays are not close members of our tribe. We just don’t know or see them.

We need a more general and philosophical definition of “psychopathy” beyond the conventional psychiatric terminology that limits that concept to just an anti-social disorder.

We need that broader definition of psychopathy to see and understand what our increasingly powerful collective civilization is doing to the world and ultimately to ourselves.

We need that for the survival of our species.

Greed before empathy, A recipe for extinction

With power comes responsibity. Why? For survival.

Now imagine tribal/local empathy with global influence.

Do you know how to wipe out a species from inside? Empower their individuals, without accordingly granting them an increased level of empathy. Their equilburium will collapse and they will harm each other to ultimate extinction.

Capitalism is the last instrument that we have used to follow up with this recipe.
Capitalism increases the range of our individual power much faster than ever before, while not helping our empathy circle growing any bigger. As the workers of the capitalistic machine we are not supposed to feel that something is wrong as long as we are functional.

Our global influence is in action to harm many other beings, while our tribal empathy is fairly satisfied inside our own social bubble. That is why we naturally feel fine and follow the system until a danger comes to our visibility and touches our basic emotions and stimulates our rather weak empathy that is much smaller now than it should be with respect to our power.

Our empathy is tribally limited

Human society was during its longest history of evolution a scattered group of isolated homo tribes. Reletively recently our society has scaled up to have become this huge interconnected network. Still at every point and at each individual it is just a local tribe. And each of us is just a naked ape with a primal brain that hasn’t evolved according to the fast pace that it has created in its environment.

We are still naked apes playing around and messing with the nature with technological tools. We are equipped with things that we don’t understand although we have collectively made them. As individuals we still run around with our ancient brains that doesn’t seem to have added many brain circuits to that of our prehistoric ancestors. And particularly to their amygdala.

The empathy mechanisms in that brain has evolved slowly as social mechanisms of control, to assure the survival only in a tribal level. As for most of our evolution our behavior could influence things only within that limited social structure.

We have no care or attention whatsoever, towards the creatures outside our social proximity. This made us a regular animal in the nature, until our power surpassed the borders of our fine-tuned empathy and reached beyond our tribe. Ever since we have been blindly increasing the territory of our influence faster than the territory of our affective understanding and in an ever acllerating pace.

The modern interconnected world has stretched our influence way beyond the visible range of our cognition, let alone the much narrower circle of our affective empathy. We have no care or attention whatsoever towards those who get trapped outside our narrow empathy circle, let alone the affected beings completely outside our visible zone.

All you need to do is to ask yourself this one question: How many people (let alone other beings) you harm during our lives, without seeing or registering them?

We are much moer terrible than what we want to believe we are.

We need functional empathy

To systematically neutralize our “functional psychopathy” and reverse some of its harms we need to invent “functional empathy”. Our natural empathy is way too limited to carry such burden.

In order to reduce the unpredictable harms that technology causes to the environment, it should start to feel it to decide whether or not it should change it in that direction.

That one principle with any interpretation, could have saved us from much of our modern problems and could made our growth much more sustainable and genuine. And should become prioritized with something even more aggressive the capitalism itself.

How could we potentially use our technology to “feel” the world is not to be addressed here, but that poses the fundamental question:

How can we care for something that we don’t see?

I will not try to answer this right here. We need to build a paradigm. I will try to throw some ideas later with sparks I see in the world of big data. Empathetic data-driven decision making.

A blueprint awaits us. Help if you agree!

Author: admin

Paranoid Data Scientist Based in Oslo

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