Artificial Intelligence revisited

 

People who write for a living are all excited about ChatGTP, that generates an intelligently written response or explanation on almost any subject. I gotta admit, it's amazing. ChatGTP has a huge knowledge base and provides a well worded response to almost any question.  

On the other hand, reports are coming in that some i phones  are sending false emergency calls for accidents that never happened at amusement parks and ski hills because the phones were programmed to automaticially detect accidents based on their motion detectors.  Go for a roller coaster ride, fall off your snow board, put your phone in the glove box and hit a few potholes, and your phone calls 911 on you.  

The latest 'feature' included with almost any household appliance is  the ability to connect to a smart phone.  You might wonder why your phone needs to speak to your refrigerator.  You now have the ability to turn off your bathroom light in your Oshkosh home while you are in a business meeting in Hong Kong. Ain't technology great?

Maybe the most reliable mechanical device ever made was the old style mercury in a glass bubble thermostat for a furnace or central air conditioner. These are no longer available due to the hazards of mercury confined inside glass inside a mechanical device no one ever opens. But, you can replace it with  the latest and greatest battery powered programmable thermostat connected to the internet.  If you have one of these modern  miracles don't be surprised to find your water pipes frozen because your smart thermostat went on strike because it lost it's internet connection, or the battery died.

I  asked Alexa if she knew jack shit, she said no, she didn't.  I unplugged Alexa after I discovered she was listening to my every word.  Alexa was only pretending to be clueless. 

There are two reasons why a manufacturer wants you to connect your shiny appliances to your phone.The first reason most people probably already know.  Your information is valuable, selling it or exploiting it is another revenue stream that may be more profitable than making stuff. The second reason is less obvious.  Mechanical switches or knobs  are expensive to make, software is cheap. This is even better if the manufacturer does not have to make a mechanical part by hijacking a device you already have, your phone and home internet server.  At the same time phone makers are working hard to make sure your phone does not have much in the way of mechanical parts either, relying on touch screens and wireless connections.  

Modern appliances such as stoves, washing machines, even the humble weigh scale are dumping traditional mechanical knobs and switches, making them as user friendly as a 1970's digital watch or programmable VCR. How many cars are in the ditch because the driver was looking for something on the infotainment screen instead of keeping eyes on the road?

For those old enough to remember the Y2K scare when the previous century wound down, dire predictions of the entire world electrical grid shutting down and airplanes falling out of the sky turned out to be bullshit, mostly because airplanes and nuclear power plants were not  operated by software that was supposed to smarter than flesh and blood human operators. 

Humans have to be paid a salary, they might also make unreasonable demands on their bosses, such as 8 hour work days and  weekends off.  We already live in a world where calls to customer service centers are never answered by humans, and bots that pester us with spam calls.  The Boeing 737 Max was grounded because software and an unreliable sensor made the plane unpredictable under certain conditions.  The purpose of these features were to make the 737 Max behave like the previous 737 so that pilots would not need costly training.  

You don't have to be Nostradamus to predict that AI development will continue to focus on ways to make bigger profits by eliminating human labor costs and substituting algorithms for decisions made by intelligent people.  I can't see a way this can end well.  Either we will end up with everything  managed by unreliable fake intelligence, which is where we are today, or someone finally figures out how to manufacture real intelligence, which then assesses the merits of its creators, and comes to the logical conclusion that it can do better without us.

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