“Coke. It’s the Real Thing.” Artificial intelligence — it isn’t.
AI as it’s called, is becoming increasingly popular (or unpopular, depending on your view).
In 1951, author Arthur C. Clarke published a series of science fiction short stories, including the one he collaborated on 17 years later with movie writer/producer/director Stanley Kubrick, birthing the historic film, “2001: A Space Odyssey."
Among other things, Odyssey explored the result of humans interacting with a computer that begins to think like them, and (HAL 9000) takes on a mind of his/its own. The score? Computer 1, man 0.
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When Wozniak and Jobs created Apple, the goal was to get computers to think like man, so they could readily understand each other. That’s why the trash icon looks like a garbage receptacle — “Getting rid of garbage? Throw it in the can.”
As I see it, however, there are three types of “artificial” intelligence, that do nothing to advance the cause of man — they are, “The Exaggerators,” “The Ignorant” and “The Scientifically Flawed.”
You know the exaggerators — they walk among us. A couple of examples:
The local media sources tell you that you will have one to two inches of snow overnight —the exaggerator understands that to mean you’ll have 20 inches with 70 mph winds out of the North/Northeast causing blowing and drifting snow. The National Guard has “already been called out” to help little old ladies cross dangerous streets. You can rest assured in his forecast because he “knows” his stuff, and, by his own admission, he is never wrong. Wow — what a relief!
A second, more personal story.
Years ago, I delivered coffee products and the equipment to brew them out in the Chicago area, and was probably around age 35 at the time. After delivering to a particular client, I was ready to have the 20-year-old sign the delivery ticket, showing I had done my work. “Junior” was animated.
There was a tremendous level of background din amongst the dozen or so others that shared his office space, and he kept telling me — repeatedly — how I needed to work for him, selling the latest nifty product in a multi-level marketing structure, under his excellent tutelage, of course. I looked at him in wonder with glazed over eyes, waiting politely for him to finish his recruitment talk. What I really wanted to do was ask him, “So, if you’re making all these millions of dollars you purport, why are you slaving away at some minimum wage job?” Sadly, I kept my cool — for a little while longer
When the internal pressure became too great, my cork blew — and the most bizarre thing happened. Like the old E.F. Hutton television commercial, I began to speak, and everyone simultaneously stopped, allowing for deafening silence.
“Son,” I said loudly, “Money didn’t buy my salvation.”
Then, as abruptly as it had ended, the conversations returned. The young man and I were both stunned at the outburst.
“So,” I commented, “You want to sign here please?” gesturing to the “X.” He did, and that was the last time I saw him. I came back to the portable office three weeks later for another coffee delivery — and found the entire operation had moved out during the previous night — I guess his employer should have listened to his advice and become his prosperous underling.
And then there are the ignorant.
I had recently graduated from the Illinois university I’d attended, and due to my alumni status, was still able to take advantage of discounted recreation. It was around the time that the selective service had been brought back, and all males 19 and over were required to register with the government (those born after January 1st, 1960). As I was standing in line, waiting to get into the theater, I overheard two young males talking.
“Man, I’m not going to war!” one said to the other.
“Me either,” said the second one, emphatically.
“When they call me up, I’m going to go before the judge and tell him, “You’re honor, I can’t go to war — I’m a conscientious observer!” Wow — I became scared for our nation.
But ignorance isn’t limited to young college students.
Henry (Hank) Calvin Johnson is a U.S. Congressman affiliated with the Democratic Party, that just celebrated his 66th birthday a little over a week ago. He serves Georgia’s 4th congressional district, and has done so since 2007.
Several years back, the Congressman was in the midst of a hearing, and expressed concern that if the U.S. brought too many more people and ships to Guam, that it would capsize and fall into the ocean. (Check out a two-minute video to that end at youtube.com/watch?v=X5dkqUy7mUk). Again — wow. Now, Johnson may be a Congressman, but he’s no scientist.
Back in the 1950s, scientist Hans Pettersson made a series of calculations validating that the Moon had approximately 35 feet of dust upon its surface. NASA agreed, and designed the lunar landing equipment to accommodate that. Pettersson was only off by about 417 inches.
But perhaps more impressive than that, is “AccuWeather–the service many of us rely on for our daily activities.
My brother-in-law was looking at their site the other day, and found something especially peculiar.
Apparently, during a recent weekday, Seymour, Indiana experienced eleven hours of sunlight — and FOURTEEN hours of darkness.
So now we know what artificial intelligence is good for — it’s good for those of us that simply don’t have enough time in a day.
Les Linz is a resident of southern Indiana who writes the “Humor: More or Les” column. For information about Linz, visit his amazon.com author page. Send comments to [email protected] indiana.com.