Editorial: Have computers taken over our everyday lives?

Published 1:02 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2023

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“Blow up your TV. Throw away your paper.

Move to the country. Build you a home.”

– John Prine

It’s getting scarier and scarier out there.

And I’m not talking about the ghosts and goblins that turn a one-day holiday into a two-month affair at this time of the year.

I’m talking about technology.

This AI, or artificial intelligence, may be the beginning of the end. If you’ve ever tried a pair of those reality goggles, you have a small idea of what AI can do.

While it has been used for years, with beneficial results, AI is becoming more mainstream. There, it can fall into the wrong hands (The same as has happened with social media.)

And it could render many of us useless in the workplace. No jokes here; I know many of you already think of journalists as useless. Would you rather have a computer writing the news for you? Heck, that computer can figure out exactly what you will read, what time and day you will read it, how you will react.

Maybe I am useless.

To put it too simply, artificial intelligence includes the simulation of the human thought process by a machine. They can make voices and images look like a real person, even say the things the machine, or computer, thinks a particular person would say in a certain situation.

Yes, it’s hard to fathom.

And yes, it’s actually been here for quite a while. It’s just getting better and better and more and more popular, and even more importantly, less expensive.

Have you ever received one of those phone calls where the voice calls you by name, but you quickly figure out this may not be a real person on the other end?

Thank AI.

Do you get advertisements on your social media feeds that actually match what you like?

Thank AI.

Do you get incorrect information labeled as true?

Thank AI.

Unfortunately, AI is better at performing many tasks than we are. No distractions. Fewer errors. More consistent.

We would be facing more of this, but it’s expensive. Like most technology, that expense is going down, meaning we’ll see more of it. And as more and more people and businesses integrate AI technology, that data base builds for the next user.

AI can be as simple as training a machine to perform a certain task in a factory, or as elaborate as replicating the cognitive abilities of the human brain, even emotion.

That’s where it gets scary.

If any person or machine can figure out the way I think, I’m changing my way of thinking. That’s personal. A machine cannot feel emotion; but it can recognize when a certain emotion is warranted.

Like most inventions, AI should be a good thing.

But like most inventions, AI can be used for bad things. And rest assured, that is already happening in places we don’t even recognize.

It will be up to us to recognize the difference.

John Prine was right. We need to live more simply. We don’t need a computer to tell us what we need to do.

Come on AI machine, guess what I’m thinking right now.

– Mike Barnhardt