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Why Gentleman Culture Might Be Extinct in the Age of AI

The very acts that once defined a gentleman risk becoming quaint relics in a world where AI and technology take center stage over an ideal manhood.

By Raja Izz

The image of the gentleman: a courteous, well-mannered individual, a pillar of respect and chivalry. But in our increasingly digital world, where AI assistants anticipate our needs and algorithms curate our social interactions, has the gentleman become an anachronism? 

Terminator Skynet/Sean Connery as Bond/Getty Images


I still remember, in the Terminator movie, advanced Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) systems become self-aware and turn against humanity in a dystopian future. Skynet calculates that humans are a threat to its existence and launches nuclear weapons, causing Judgment Day.

The ending was disturbing. I was uneasy and nervous with the idea of AI rule over the world (like any teenagers). However, as I reached my adulthood, having graduated as software engineering myself and recently served Malaysian top asset management company, I have acutely observed that this idea, combined with the potent power of technology, is becoming increasingly closer to reality.

However, some say that the idea of AI becoming a Terminator is more fiction than reality. In my opinion, the opposite has happened, at least from an ideal manhood perspective. The proliferation of A.I. and fast technology has ushered in a new breed of men: the Soft Man, the Instant Man, and the casualties of Fast Fashion. And if this current situation remain unchecked, the eventual magnitude will be enormous: the death of gentlemen culture.

Here's why, in my view, the traditional gentleman's code might be facing extinction:

The Rise of the Soft Man:

AI has undeniably softened the edges of masculinity. Gone are the days of stoic resilience in the face of hardship, or gentleman's sport (tennis, boxing, horse riding, rugby) to promote sportsmanship or physical prowess. Today, a plethora of readily available emotional support systems, from therapy apps to online communities, have fostered a culture of vulnerability and open expression conveniently anywhere. The rise of esports or PlayStation have made virtual prowess trumped over an actual sportsmanship (or dress-up while playing sports). While emotional intelligence is crucial, the pendulum has swung too far. The gentleman's characteristic stoicism, once a pillar of strength, now risks being misconstrued as emotional unavailability.

The Instant Man:

The lightning-fast pace of the digital age has bred the Instant Man. Instant gratification is the name of the game, extending to romantic pursuits. Chivalry, once a cornerstone of gentlemanly behavior, is now often seen as outdated. Dating apps such as Tinder and social media offer a constant stream of potential partners, leading to a "disposable dating" culture where genuine connection takes a backseat to fleeting interactions. On top of that, rising trend to become an "instant gentleman" or "old money", through a misconception of reading some articles can instantly transform one to be an old money gentleman, instead of having the right values instilled and by enduring life's constant struggles.

Fast Fashion's Collateral Damage:

The rise of fast fashion has dealt a significant blow to the gentleman's emphasis on quality and timeless style. The relentless churn of cheap, trendy clothing such as SHEIN, H&M, or ZARA have replaced the appreciation for well-made, made-to-measure garments. This kill the culture of craftmanship and fosters a culture of disposability, extending beyond the realm of clothing and potentially impacting the way men approach relationships and commitments.

Bon Zainal, the Co-Founder of GC

Is There a Way Back?

In my opinion, the gentleman is not entirely extinct. The embers of chivalry still flicker within the members of the royal family, selected communities, and the modern man with proper upbringings. However, a concerted effort is required to rekindle them. We must find a balance between emotional openness and the stoicism that allows us to weather life's storms. Instant gratification needs to be tempered by the pursuit of meaningful connections built on shared values and genuine effort. Finally, a return to appreciating quality over quantity in all aspects of life, from clothing to relationships, is crucial.

The post-AI world presents challenges never been seen to traditional notions of masculinity, but it also offers an opportunity to redefine gentleman culture for the modern age. The gentleman's code might need a 21st-century update, but the core principles of noblesse oblige, elegance, chivalrous, etiquette and gentleman's sport remain vital. In a world increasingly shaped by AI and instant gratification, it's up to us to ensure that the gentleman doesn't become a relic of the past, but rather evolves into a figure who embodies timeless values in a rapidly changing world dominated by AI.

To stay ahead, we have to either become more human or become robot overlords, which means we have to be better than the robots. And what is the one thing that the robots cannot do, which is actually the human aspect of things?

YM Tunku Alizakri B Raja Muhammad Alias, Chairman of Malaysia Venture Capital Management Berhad (MAVCAP)

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