Monday, May 31, 2021

Thoughts on Brodkin & Pallathra's Missing Each Other: Tuning in to Attunement

"Missing Each Other" by Ashley Pallathra and Edward Brodkin offers a fascinating analysis of the lack of connection that many individuals feel in our modern, technologically dominated lifestyles. We found the book to be a captivating read and would highly recommend it. In the book, Pallathra and Brodkin focus on the concept of attunement--a term coined to describe the act of connecting with someone on a deeper level than responding to simple verbal cues or body language. Instead, practicing attunement requires one to be deeply present and listen to others while simultaneously checking in with yourself. It's not the easiest feat, but the benefits of deep attunement are astonishing. For instance, attunement is not only the hallmark of meaningful human relationships--it also plays a vital role in creating successful sports teams and transcendent musical improvisation groups.

After captivating readers with the myriad benefits of attunement, the authors provide a path to maximize one's personal attunement. They describe the process of attunement as first having a relaxed ordinance of yourself, then really listening to and understanding the other person, and then coming up with a response tailored to the situation and to that person. Additionally, the authors offer practical exercises to improve one's attunement, including breathing, meditation, and partner exercises.

Perhaps most exciting of all, at the end of the book, the authors look toward the future and illustrate how attunement might relate to advanced artificial intelligence (AI). They describe artificial attunement as the act of attunement between machines and humans and postulate how machines can be attuned to us and vice versa. To explore the idea of artificial attunement, the authors begin by describing a simple Turing test of a machine fooling us into believing it's a person. They then review the achievements and pitfalls of current AI devices like Alexa and the incredible behavioral gestures of robots from Hanson Robotics. From there, the authors nod toward potential future technology like brain-computer interfaces where there might be even stronger versions of attunement. Pallathra and Brookin conclude with the exciting and somewhat unsettling observation that artificial attunement might allow us to connect with machines on a deeper level than we can connect with other humans. Overall, "Missing Each Other" was an interesting book that we would highly recommend. 

 Mark Gerstein & Alexandra Haslund-Gourley
Missing Each Other: How to Cultivate Meaningful Connections
by Brodkin, Edward, Pallathra, Ashley