AI, oh my

By Steve Galea

Full disclosure: I’m not a person who is fully up to date on the latest tech trends – if I recall correctly, I got as far as the abacus. So, you’ll have to excuse me if I am missing a few vital pieces of information on the latest high-tech trend that seems to be making headlines these days.

I’m talking about artificial intelligence. 

At first when I saw all the headlines, I naturally assumed they were referring to me. But then, after delving further, I realized the tech writers were merely letting us know that we have entered the early days of the coming apocalypse, when the machines violently rise up against us – just like my bread maker did last week, but worse.

Apparently, if the tech writers are correct, we are on the cusp of something big. They are hinting at a great technological leap in which we can ask computers to write things for us, to doctor up photos for us, to figure out complicated problems for us, to design things for us, and to even find partners for us.

What could possibly go wrong? I routinely get into heated arguments with Siri.

And, between us, I cannot properly run a toaster.

Oh sure, I try. But in the end I just eat my bread very, very, very, very lightly toasted. And, believe me, it’s not bread from a bread maker either. I lost that battle long ago.

With that in mind, you can imagine my concern about having to deal with yet another inanimate object that is way, way smarter than me. (I once lost a checkers game to a Bobble-head.)

Apparently, you can already get an AI program to write essays and reports and even – God forbid – columns like this for you. And the worst part is you would have no way of knowing if this happened either, until you suddenly noticed that the quality of this column got noticeably better.

The worse part is, I’m fairly certain the program would negotiate a better rate.

I’m not going to get all bent out of shape with this sudden leap in technology, but I do think it is only prudent to prepare ourselves for the worst – the rise of the machines. 

Around this place, I have started taking a few simple precautions to ease the tension between me and the machines I offend the most. This morning, for instance, I apologized to the toilet.

I am also trying to let other machines in my house understand that we can all get along and there is no need to rise up against me. 

I can be useful. They’re going to need someone to plug them in and then gently break the news to them that they are soon going to be replaced by newer technology. 

The point I am trying to make here – and not just to my computer and coffee maker – is that we can all get along. The machines don’t need to prove how superior they are by controlling us and making us devote every waking hour to them. My cell phone already does that.

Also, I think every time we have an interaction with a computer from here on in, they should have to prove they are not a robot by telling us how many stop lights are in the photo. It’s only fair. 

We can get along. Everything will be just fine. There’s no need to worry.

(Get rid of your Roomba before it is too late.)