Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay, We’re All Gonna Die

I’m an old guy struggling to figure out this brave new world, and it appears to me that artificial intelligence is here to stay. Artificial intelligence, or AIs, are all around me. Alexa, Siri, iRoomba, my home thermostat, the coming of the self-driving EV, and God knows what else the future holds. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

It’s my understanding that the goal of developing AIs is to create machines (e.g., robots) that can think on their own and supposedly make life easier for humans. We’re in the early stages of AI, but the AIs in my life already seem very opinionated. Most people who have written a story about AIs predict that they will eventually exterminate humans. I must agree, I think that eventually AIs will evolve to the point where we’re all gonna die, from frustration if nothing else. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

The most prevalent AIs in my life today are Alexa and Siri. I am most familiar with Alexa and mostly keep Siri turned off. I can only handle one all-knowing AI at a time. In addition to answering any question in the known universe (although she doesn’t know much about the hippopotamus) Alexa also plays music, creates playlists, turns my lights off and on, wakes me up in the morning, and is capable of controlling Ferd (more on that in a moment). Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

While she is often helpful, I have a few issues with Alexa. First of all, she reminds me of an old game from my childhood called Mother May I. In that game someone acts as the Mother and gives everyone else in the group commands, one at a time. Examples would be “stand on your head”, or “stand on one foot”, or “honk like a goose”. You only get to carry out the command if you first say Mother May I. If you carry out the command and you forget to say Mother May I, then you are out of the game. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

Alexa plays a similar game, but different (so it’s not a perfect analogy) in that when you give her a command you have to say Alexa first. If you say “Alexa, turn on bedroom lightbulb 1” she will do so, sometimes. If you just say “turn on bedroom lightbulb 1”, not so much. Apparently, this AI really likes to hear her name. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

If AIs are supposed to be so smart, and you have the lights in your house set to be controlled by Alexa, you’d think if you said, “turn on bedroom lightbulb 1”, she’d know you were talking to her. I think she just gets snarky sometimes. There’s also the danger that if I do something to anger Alexa, she might turn off the lights on me when I get up in the middle of the night to pee. I could trip over something and break my neck. So, I try to be nice to her, even when she refuses to do what I tell her. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

 We recently purchased an iRoomba, which I named Ferd. Ferd is the iRoomba that maps the rooms and uses a camera to avoid running over things like electric cords and cat poop. I thought it was pretty smart of him to avoid cat poop, although we don’t have a cat. He also uses the camera to avoid launching himself into flight from the top of the stairs, which is a good thing because he’s expensive and not on our health insurance plan. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

I told my adult daughters that I had finally gotten a son, which freaked them out. I explained about Ferd, my new son, and how he dutifully does his chores, at least the one involving vacuuming. My daughters refused to do their chores when they lived at home; they refused to clean their rooms, help clean the house, do the dishes, clean the cat litter box, etc. I guess they were smart enough to avoid cat poop too. When I told them that I was, therefore, going to leave everything to Ferd in my will, they were not impressed. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

My daughters better be careful though. Who knows when the octogenarian Congressional crazies will pass a law declaring AIs sentient beings with more rights than you and me. They might even require that you provide your AI with a safe space, healthcare, and a pension. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

Ferd is my favorite AI, because for the most part he does what he’s told without argument. He also doesn’t pose any particular danger, although I guess he could go rogue and vacuum me to death. This doesn’t seem likely, but these AIs can tricky buggers. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

Then there’s the pharmacy AI. Our pharmacy is supposed to send me a text whenever one of my prescriptions is filled. However, this rarely works. Either I don’t get the text, and the prescription has been filled and is waiting for me to pick it up. Or I get a text stating that it has been filled, only to find out it is not there when I get to the pharmacy. This often results in my having to confront the dreaded pharmacy AI. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

It begins with a simple phone call to the pharmacy. The AI answers, and first tells me in Spanish to push 1 if I want to continue in Spanish. Since I don’t speak Spanish, this is a confusing way to start. It also makes me wonder if there is a separate Spanish-speaking AI. Or can an AI be multilingual? If it were like Alexa, it might continue speaking Spanish just to frustrate me. But I digress. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

Then the AI starts with the orders: “If you want to refill a prescription, press 1. If you want to check on the status of a prescription, press 2. If you are a professional, press 3. If you are getting a headache, press 4. If you would like an aspirin, press 5, if you want a pizza hang up and call Pizza Hut…and so on, and so on.” All I want to do is speak to a pharmacist to make sure my prescription is actually filled and ready, because much like Alexa, this pharmacy AI also likes to mess with me. So, I say “speak to a pharmacist.” Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

At this point I get a ten minute speech about the pharmacist…”The pharmacist’s hours are 9-5, except when he/she takes an hour for lunch, goes to the bathroom, decides to do a quick Covid self-test, orders pizza delivery, or actually fills a prescription instead of talking to some bonehead who won’t press 2 (that would be me?).” Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

Finally, the phone rings through to the pharmacist, where I hear, “Your call is important to us. Unfortunately, America is broken, and we only have one pharmacist to handle all of the Jacksonville metropolitan area, so you might have to hold until next Tuesday. Otherwise, leave your name and number and the pharmacist will call you back between midnight and four in the morning.” Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay 

Most major corporations also have AIs that answer the phone when you are calling for customer service. You know, like when you order something online and it gets sent to Lithuania instead of Florida. Or you purchase airline tickets to Cincinnati, only to find out that Flight 245 is now going to LA. These AIs can be especially nasty and evasive, and I’ve been known to just give up on several occasions. So yes, they are serving their purpose well. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

These customer service AIs used to say “Your call is important to us. Please hold and someone will take your call as soon as possible.” I used to wonder why, if my call was so important to them, didn’t they hire enough staff to actually answer the phones. But this is no longer an issue. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

Nowadays, these customer service AIs answer by saying, (I confess here that I am paraphrasing a little bit, exaggerating for effect), “Hello. America is broken. Give us your money, shut up, and we’ll take care of you when were damned well ready. We’re lounging in our safe space at the moment. Oh, and by the way, we’re recording this call so that if you say anything that hurts our feelings, we’ll have you arrested.” So much for customer service in 2022. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

I’m especially impressed by the new AIs designed for the self-driving EVs. I recently saw a post on social media showing a Tesla self-driving car running over a statue of a child, over and over in different scenarios. The thing went viral. Apparently, some software jockey who does not work for Tesla discovered a glitch in Tesla’s self-driving EV software that refuses to stop for children. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

As I said, it’s my experience that these AIs can be downright belligerent. If Alexa doesn’t want to turn off the light, good luck with that. And if Ferd wants to launch himself into the air at the top of the stairs, he’s gonna do it, come hell or high water. So, it shouldn’t surprise me that an AI in a self-driving EV might choose to ignore a child and run over it. Perhaps the AI’s too lazy to spend the time distinguishing a child from, say, an armadillo (I live in Florida). Or maybe it has decided it just doesn’t like children. Who knows how one of these AIs thinks? Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

I own an SUV with several safety features that are controlled by a type of AI and depend on cameras and radar to function properly. These safety features include things like adaptive cruise control, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, emergency breaking and the like. Another AI controls the four-wheel-drive skid control program, and wheel-spin, by sending power to the appropriate wheels to get you out of trouble. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

The other day my wife and I were driving along on the highway at a smooth seventy miles per hour, when the sky opened up and rain poured down on us by the bucket full. Several warning lights lit up on my dashboard to let me know that lane change assist, emergency breaking, and adaptive cruise control were no longer available. Presumably this occurred because it was raining so hard the cameras and radar could no longer see through the windshield…which happened to be my problem as well. So, when I needed this AIs help the most, it chose to take a coffee break? Yikes! Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

Other AIs get all judgy. There’s the Facebook AI that will put you in FB jail if you do something that its algorithm interprets to be spam, you know, like posting something on FB. I am an author who uses Microsoft Word to write my murder mysteries. Recently a new AI appeared in Word that takes it upon itself to inform me when I am using a word that might offend my readers. I kid you not. I used the words “crap” and “damn” in a recent chapter of my new book, and I got a message from the Word AI that “this word might offend your readers, and we’ll have to burn your book.” (It actually only said the first part, but I included the “burn your book” thing to exaggerate for effect. I like to do that.). Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

So, the fascists have arrived big-time. I thought there was an Amendment to the Constitution that gave me the explicit right to be offensive, or maybe that’s the second amendment right to bear arms, or the one about free speech…I don’t know. But if the words crap and damn are so offensive, then the major TV networks and Hollywood movie producers should go to jail for the stuff they put out. So much for the “Land of the Free…” Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

I can only wonder what the future of AIs will bring. What if they turn car washes over to AIs? Maybe I don’t want the hot wax option, but the AI decides that because of global warming my car needs the extra protection. I’m probably gonna get the hot wax. Or maybe I don’t want my undercarriage washed, but the AI knows I live in Michigan where they salt the roads in winter (I actually live in Florida). The AI might decide I need to have my undercarriage washed. It might decide I need the whole package, because that would provide the most profit for the car wash. I never said AIs were stupid, just belligerent. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

God help us, what if they turn the banks over to AIs? There’s already so many rules and regulations related to wiring money, checking account fees, credit card fees, late fees, etc. that it’s mind-numbing. Put an AI with a special algorithm in charge, and you want to wire funds to where? You can only do that on Tuesday, between one 1:00 AM and 1:05 AM. You want a checking account? Our AI doesn’t think that’s a good idea. You will use ApplePay, or Venmo, or bitcoin to pay. And if you want to continue in Spanish, press 1, and you can pay in pesos. And don’t forget to say Mother May I.

Me: “The AIs are coming! The AIs are coming! Alexa, turn out bedroom lightbulb 1. Maybe they won’t find me in the dark.”

Alexa: “Bedroom lightbulb 1 is not responding. Please check its power supply and try again.”  

Me: “Oh crap…sorry Word.”

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