Why Fret About AI?
Machines can't dream
AI is short for artificial intelligence, which strikes me as a misnomer. I mean, a machine or a person either really is intelligent or isn’t. The “artificial” is meant to distinguish manmade from human intelligence, of course. Some construction and ag machines for years have featured “intelligent machine controls.” Operators sit back and more or less let a dozer or excavator or tractor use GPS and other global navigation satellite systems to dig to a precise depth, or grade perfectly, or plant corn in immaculately straight rows.
But now the robotic intelligence is coming to a word processor near you. One can only hope it is more logical and error-free than the “spell check” that has plagued us for years. And it will be effective eventually, I am sure, which makes some people nervous, mostly people who write for pleasure or a paycheck. I think they worry too much.
A Wall Street Journal columnist, Andy Kessler, who among other things once designed computer chips, talks about AI and jobs. He notes that a study last year showed 60 percent of jobs in 2018 didn’t exist in 1940. It’s called workplace evolution and explains the demise of buggy-whip manufacturers and elevator operators and typesetters. It’s why I ordered and paid for a vanilla shake at McDonald’s last week from a big screen.
AI detectors supposedly can tell AI-generated writing from the human kind. One writer tells how he submitted his entirely original pieces to such a detector only to be told they were 90 percent AI-generated. Too many cliches, perhaps. And then there’s the story about the U.S. Constitution being analyzed and pronounced machine-written, which might be true inasmuch as our forefathers were unreal in their perspicacity.
Here's the bottom line: Artificial intelligence mimics human intelligence, is fed data by humans, has never had an original thought that wasn’t explained by a glitch, and is incapable of dreaming. You might say, “That sounds like some authors I’ve read” and I would agree. God gave mankind the ability to think and create and to constantly improve his thinking and creating. Machines are the consequence. We’ll always outthink them.