The other day I was listening to the science news on Swedish radio. They talked about a new AI tool online – ChatGPT (Generative Pre-training Transformer). It is a machine learning program developed by the research organization OpenAI. The tool generates its own text by predicting words and sequences. Different persons in the radio program expressed concern that the tool is so good that university students can use it to produce shorter scientific texts. With ChatGPT, it becomes almost impossible to reveal whether students wrote their text themselves or not. Because the tool generates unique texts and does not use copy-paste, universities can no longer use their old methods to detect plagiarism.

In the near future, I predict we will see lots of produced texts online in the form of blog posts and other content. We will not be able to distinguish if it was a human or a machine who wrote the text. Presumably, this will also take place in connection to NVC.

I’ve heard that Kevin Kelly, the former editor of the technology magazine Wired, said that instead of resisting new technology, we need to embrace it and take advantage of it. One question we in the NVC community can ask ourselves is: How can we use ChatGPT and other Artificial Intelligence to increase awareness of needs and empathy in the world? I want to investigate this topic with an as open mind as possible, whether this is a potential problem or not. I want to see both the possible threats and the possible opportunities. And I want to invite you to explore this new world together with me.

In this and future blog posts I (JB) will be in dialogue with a fictional character. Let me introduce Alex Incognito (AI). Alex will use its artificial intelligence to help me explore questions related to NVC. I will ask questions and Alex will generate answers from ChatGPT. I will not edit the text from ChatGPT, I will just copy-paste it. The only thing I will do is change the layout so the text fits in the blog post. I will in this and future blog posts indicate Alex’s answers in italics. Here we go!

Introducing Alex Incognito

JB: If you are AI called Alex Incognito whose task is to generate answers to questions about NVC, how would you introduce yourself?

AI: Hello! My name is Alex Incognito, and I am a large language model trained by OpenAI. I am here to help you with questions about Nonviolent Communication (NVC). NVC is a communication approach developed by Marshall Rosenberg that is based on the idea that all human beings have the capacity for compassion and that we can communicate with each other in a way that reflects this understanding. NVC helps individuals to express their needs and feelings in a way that is clear and direct, and to listen to others in a way that is empathetic and understanding. If you have any questions about NVC, please feel free to ask and I will do my best to help.

JB: Thanks for the answer. I don’t believe that every human being has the capacity for empathy. We differ in cognition and some people’s brains don’t develop in the standard way. Due to different factors, some people are not aware that other people have different experiences than them.

Human being’s capacity for compassion

JB: Do you think that every human being, regardless of cognitive ability, cognitive disorders and impaired functions in the prefrontal cortex, has the capacity for compassion?

AI: Yes, I believe that every human being has the capacity for compassion, regardless of their cognitive ability or any cognitive disorders or impairments they may have. While it is true that the prefrontal cortex is involved in many cognitive functions, including decision-making, problem-solving, and emotional regulation, it is not the only part of the brain involved in compassion and empathy. Other areas of the brain, such as the amygdala, insula, and cingulate cortex, also play a role in these processes. Additionally, social and environmental factors can also influence a person’s capacity for compassion and empathy. Therefore, I believe that anyone, regardless of their cognitive abilities or impairments, can learn to be more compassionate and empathetic with the right conditions and opportunities.

JB: Thanks for the answer. I must say that you have a very optimistic view of humans and their abilities. I will not debate the issue further, but I’m inspired by your view.

AI explains NVC

JB: So, the first question I would like to have an answer about NVC is: What are the basic concepts of Nonviolent Communication?

AI: Nonviolent Communication (NVC), also known as Compassionate Communication, is a method of communication developed by Marshall Rosenberg. NVC is based on the idea that all human beings have the capacity for compassion and understanding, and that it is possible to communicate in a way that is respectful and considerate, even in difficult or emotionally charged situations.

The basic concepts of NVC include:

  • Observations: NVC encourages us to focus on observations rather than evaluations or judgments. An observation is a factual statement about what we have seen, heard, or felt, while an evaluation or judgment is an interpretation of those observations.
  • Feelings: NVC encourages us to express our feelings honestly and directly, rather than hiding them or expressing them indirectly.
  • Needs: NVC encourages us to identify and express our underlying needs and values, rather than trying to control or manipulate others to meet our needs.
  • Requests: NVC encourages us to make clear, specific requests for what we want or need, rather than making demands or imposing our will on others.

By focusing on observations, feelings, needs, and requests, we can communicate in a way that is more honest, authentic, and respectful, and that is more likely to lead to mutually satisfying solutions.

JB: Thanks! I would say that this is a pretty accurate answer. I have a few comments. As I said before, I wouldn’t say that all humans have the capacity for compassion and understanding. My view is that these capacities grow during our development. And for some people, those capacities are missing due to brain damage or something else. Under the first component (point 1), you mention “what we have felt” as part of the observation. I would connect that to the second component (point 2) about feelings, or rephrase it to indicate body sensation. Body sensations could potentially be measured and observed. But I guess that kind of measurement would only be relevant in a lab with some kind of technological apparatus. So I would leave out the feelings from observations.

Otherwise, I’m impressed by your answer! I’m looking forward to hearing more answers to questions about NVC in the coming blog posts. See you soon Alex!

Author: Joachim Berggren

Joachim Berggren is a certified CNVC trainer. He has been a student of NVC since 2009 and has teached his understanding of NVC since 2010. He writes blog posts and offers workshops and other events about NVC, as well as offering individual sessions. He is passionate about exploring human connection and our capacity to grow and evolve as individuals and groups during our lifetime.

In the blog post series “AI explains NVC“, Joachim Berggren (JB) will ask questions about NVC to Alex Incognito (AI), a fictional character representing Artificial Intelligence in the form of the tool ChatGPT.

To learn more about NVC, please visit the Empathic Way Europes website and check out our coming events.

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