Is AI the future of self-improvement? Will it lead to living a more fulfilled life? We think so. Advances in AI, specifically in Natural Language Processing (NLP), a branch of machine learning, helps us understand more about personality and behavior. Unlike personality tests of the past, this technology removes bias, allowing us to see a realistic picture of who we are and why we do what we do. These technologies are commonly used and impact our daily lives. They power the tech giants' customized marketing and social media streams. Given how well our technology understands us, isn’t it time we used it to help us become the best version of ourselves?
AI is a broad category of several different sciences, spanning from machine learning to robotics. AI can learn in two ways. Unsupervised learning is where the machine looks through large amounts of data to identify patterns. Supervised learning is where the machine is given a labeled data set and is trained to recognize a defined object. Machine learning excels in pattern recognition and learning in incredibly narrow contexts. It has been so popular in medical research because it can analyze endless amounts of narrowly defined data, like kidney test results, to determine if a pattern exists. This is where NLP comes into play.
NLP is a category of machine learning that helps computers to understand human language. To learn, programs conduct pattern analysis of syntax and word usage to identify human emotions and personality.
NLP is far more accurate than other traditional personality tests like Myers-Briggs or other Likert based tests. Using NLP, an AI can recommend self-improvement tools that are personally tailored for you. In addition to individualized tools, machine learning can determine which tools are the most effective for you and understand why. This leads to continual refinement of the types of tools that will help you manage the issues that life presents, from personal relationships to career development.
The self-improvement industry is broad. It includes books, seminars, coaching, and some types of therapy. Self-improvement isn’t just about optimizing our lives, it is about understanding who we are and helping us live fuller lives. It deals with many of life’s most pressing issues, including relationships, communication, self-awareness, parenting, employment, health, and spirituality. It has risen in popularity because we are all learning how to be a person, love and be loved, and travel the journey of life. Although the self-improvement industry has helped many people, it is not without problems.
First is the issue of customization. Self-improvement products are not customized. They often focus on a type of problem and provide a specific solution. We all face similar issues in life, but we need different solutions based on our backgrounds and who we are as people. For example, every couple argues, and most want to learn how to communicate better. Unfortunately, not every communication strategy will work for each person or couple. Without customization, the tool or technique suggested might be generally applicable but does not appreciate the individual nuances. The lack of customization can backfire. When the tools or strategies don’t work, people are left feeling worse. Many people think that there is something wrong with them because the solution that was supposed to solve the problem didn’t work.
The second is the costs. If you want customized support, then you need to pay. The expense of this type of personal development can be significant and inaccessible for most people. Even if someone is interested in learning more about themselves or solving life's problems, they will often face the difficult decision of financial tradeoffs. This places pressure on personal development, looking for faster results because of the costs involved.
There are also issues with regulations and supervision within the industry. This causes people to become investigators to determine whether the author or coach is a charlatan or whether they are being lured into a multi-level marketing scam. The lack of science within the industry has caused a significant amount of distrust and stigmatization. The result is that many people neglect investing in themselves due to social perceptions.
AI can change all of this by adding science and customization at a fraction of the cost. If each of us had an AI, it could learn how to help us improve our lives. It could measure how we are improving and what we are struggling with, continually updating and customizing the practices, tools, and techniques that would help us live more fulfilled lives. This type of AI could be like the wise friend that recommends the book you need or advises you to take a walk and look at the trees to remember how beautiful the world is. It could even give customized advice on listening to help you stop fighting with your loved ones or improve relationships at work. This is the potential of AI being used in the context of self-improvement rather than for marketing products or social media engagement.