Small Talk and Dancing Hint at Human AI

Small-talk, virtue signalling and partner dancing are hard to explain. Are they artifacts of human's early training as an artificial intelligence? Thu 31 March 2022

Dance training, West London, 1958. Source: Can't Get You Out of My Head (2021)

Up until the 1960s, ballroom dancing was the standard for social dancing. Children were taught highly-coordinated pair dancing as the only formally-recognised social dance. This despite dancing being a leisure activity.

Pattern entrainment at a Grimsby dance school. Source: Great Grimsby

Children were taught to assimilate the patterns of ballroom dance. Instead of letting their own thoughts, feelings and desire determine their dance style, they were taught to let the pattern determine their next action.

Why did European schools ensure humans followed such tightly defined patterns of physical movement in social situations?

Small talk is boring. Source

If small-talk is boring, why do many social interactions focus on it?

Dress rituals like Christmas party hats, dinner jackets and wedding dresses - also require pattern-based cognition. They ask only that participants:

  • recognise the theme, and
  • provide the required response.

Many games also have these characteristics; they require pattern-based cognition. As did dancing - until the 1960s.

So again, why do many social interactions focus on participation in activities that require pattern-based cognition, rather than free cognition (free-thinking)?

The patternistic quality of a wide range of human activities, even down to everyday verbal interactions like small talk, hints that humans are entrained to expect predictability.

And to act in highly predictable ways:

Dance training. Westworld, 2016. Source: Westworld S01 Ep08


  • Predictability is evidence of a system.

  • Repetition of predictable but slightly different patterns is evidence of training for artificial intelligence systems:

Life is pregnant with hints. Source: Automata

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