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I do not really know why, but when someone starts lecturing about love, I always get a little punk rock. I am especially wary when very powerful people start professing it, as it reveals a kind of missing body, soul, or mind part (like Is this whole love thing new to you? Us simple folk have kind of known it all along). When a very powerful person starts talking about basic human goodness as if it’s a brand new revolutionary idea, one begins to wonder if anyone in their circle is going to tell the Emperor that he is no longer wearing any clothes. Love and kindness are in our humanness. We are pack animals with a limbic system (the emotional center of our brain). We receive a hit of stronger-than-heroin dopamine when we share something or help someone. If one is more spiritually inclined, one could also say that humans have souls or minds (apart from the physical brain) that help us develop deeper, higher levels of states such as compassion and empathy than what our basic limbic signals deliver.
Meet Jack Ma. Jack Ma is a true ‘Cinder-fella’ story. He went from being an English teacher to cofounding and chairing the Alibaba Group which is one of the world’s largest e-commerce businesses. He’s the second richest man in China, #23 for billionaires in the world, and owns (oddly enough) a vineyard in France. (Jack Ma profile, Forbes.com). Recently, Mr. Ma has been speaking all over the globe with a new and ardent message: Love. He uses an interesting term too when speaking of it: LQ. He came up with the term ‘LQ’ in relation to the other famous Q terms ‘IQ’ and ‘EQ.' Both IQ and EQ (a clinical measure of intellectual intelligence and a clinical measure of emotional intelligence respectively) are often debated regarding which is better to have for success in business. Currently, EQ, or emotional intelligence, has the edge. People with high EQs tend to be very good sheep dogs whereas people with very high IQs tend to have very little interest in herding other sheep. Consequently, EQers are most likely going to become management while IQers will be much less powerful and lower paid research associates. Now, enter Jack Ma. Jack Ma has a new Q, and that is LQ which he claims is way more powerful than any of the other Qs, and he believes LQ will be the secret of success for coming generations. Jack Ma, “If you want to be respected, you need LQ.” (Schwantes, October 5, 2017, Inc.com)
Ma does not see this new call for LQ in isolation, rather, he sees it directly connected to business and especially in the growing machine presence in our lives. For that, I do pause and retract some of my eye-rolling, as it, at the very least, lends insight into where this tech king sees things going and is striving to redirect. “‘A machine does not have a heart, [a] machine does not have a belief. Human beings have the belief, have the value; we are creative, we are showing that we can control the machines,’ he said. Ma speaks about the need to pursue globalization that’s humane.” (Schwantes, October 5, 2017, Inc.com) Additionally, he brings a curious and maybe ominously insightful warning regarding how we are educating our children: “Ma, a former teacher, says he always warns government leaders to also ‘pay attention to education,’ because right now we’re teaching children the wrong thing: that machines are better than humans. He believes this mindset will cost young people jobs in a future dominated by AI and computing.” (MacLellan, Sept. 20, 2017, Quartz.com) Essentially, Ma believes what will always secure a job and success in our ever-increasingly automated world is LQ or Love Intelligence. That to value goodness, generosity, honesty, and creativity over being smart (IQ) or manipulative (EQ) is the only way to rise above machines.
After reading about Jack Ma’s life story and reading the many reports on his new LQ campaign, I would say I came away with mixed feelings. On the one side, to go around telling humans that the key to overcoming machines is to be human is ridiculous and perhaps even a little harmful, as nothing will kill any naturally good thing more than trying. Wild animals are stunningly beautiful without ever considering being beautiful. Humans are good—but very often turn into the opposite when they try to be good. Naturally grouchy people are often the most trustworthy and loving of companions—they are too innocent to think they should modify their behavior in order to coax love out of a person. However, I also found myself (grudgingly) respecting Jack Ma’s new love mission. Clearly, he sees some darkness ahead and has been moved to suggest something that only the greatest fools throughout history do, and that is all you need is love.