AI, AI, Oh…


It may not be in the form of Haley Joel Osment or Alicia Vikander, but we have all seen bits and pieces of AI (Artificial Intelligence) all around us. If you have a smart phone, a computer, a car, or a tablet, it’s probably housing some type of electronic brain in there that you can talk or type to, that will do your bidding. People throughout time have been fascinated with inanimate objects with some kind of intelligence, from Pinnochio to Pixar’s Cars. It was all just a fairy tale we would read in wonder, or watch in excitement. In the realm of Sci-Fi, those objects took the form of computers like Samantha in “Her”, or humanoid robots like C3PO and Data.

For weeks to come, Microsoft will be putting out a little operating system called Windows 10. For those keeping score, Windows 9 was…well, we don’t talk about Windows 9. Along with the Windows 10 software is a little program called Cortana, named after the UNSC Artificial Intelligence from the Halo series. She joins the ranks with Siri from Apple, Alexa from Amazon, and whoever the “OK GOOGLE”, person is for Android. It seems like every year we’re getting making our every day items, smarter and smarter. So why should you care?

Skynet. Okay, maybe not, but you have to feel concerned when people like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Steve Wozniak think that governments will naturally want to put AI into weapons. But that’s only a small part of the picture, because we already have this AI playing games of Jeopardy, making food in restaurants, and driving our cars.

Lightning McQueen may be taking you to your next destination in a few years, with Google putting out its fleet of self driving cars out into the public. This is a big deal, because, as someone who lives in California, I’m all too aware that human drivers suck at driving. Traffic every day of the week, with accidents happening a couple times each day, we as human beings are just no good behind the wheel. Now, with Google’s new, adorable, driverless cars, we can definitely see a future where people actually get to places on time; when distance isn’t measured in hours, but in minutes. Sure, people aren’t going to be happy that they can’t drive themselves, and I know that that people don’t trust autonomous vehicles, but with more and more states like California and Texas allowing these cars on the road, you can be sure that our future is taking a nap while Herbie gets us to work. If we still have a job.

I’ve always wondered what all those people were doing on the NCC-1701D when Captain Picard and friends encountered the Borg or butted heads with the Ferengi. I mean, the only people that seemed to have any kind of job were the Bridge Crew, Security, and Engineering. Geordi had tons to do, making sure the Dilithium Crystals didn’t blow up in everyone’s face. But then, everyone else had to do something. But why? In the 24th century, money will no longer be a “thing” (we hope). It looks like we might be headed in that direction, because computers are replacing a lot of jobs that people used to do. This is where I’d normally instill some panic, and scream fire in the theater and announce on my bullhorn that Artificial Intelligence and computers are taking over our jobs! That’s the educated guess anyway, with others thinking that when our computer overlords take over the workplace, humans will find other career paths, like professional body builder or professional cuddler (which really is a thing) – But we can’t ignore that jobs may soon be the sole responsibility of a computer and some smart AI.

When I was in college, back before Snapchat existed, I would sometimes go to a tiny, ramen restaurant right by the campus and order myself some delicious noodles. I did not have to talk to a single soul as I walked up to the iPad, put in my order, paid, and then someone would bring me my food. I thought, “That’s neat. I wonder why no one else does this?” Then, I went to a chain restaurant, and was seated by the hostess where I was instructed to make any and all requests from an iPad chained to the table. My eyes grew in disbelief. Another machine. I ordered, the food was brought out to me, and whenever I needed a refill on my refreshing beverage, I would just tap a button on the screen and it happened. Little to no human interaction required. In China, a factory has become fully automated, and of the 650 workers, almost 600 lost their jobs. Those automated cars I was talking about? They’ve already been implemented on Semi-Trucks, that will soon be lugging goods across the country. My current job, can easily be replaced by some sophisticated algorithm and the right equipment. Phone calls from businesses can be made by computers that sound and reply like real human beings. It’s freaky! Samantha from the movie “Her” could be keeping me company in the not so distant future! Wait…

What the average person may not know is that computers have gone way passed checking Facebook and doing your math homework. We are at a point in history, where those science fiction movies and books we watched and read as a kid, are now becoming a reality and we are not ready for it. We, as human beings, will blink, and find ourselves hand in hand with the future, in the shape of a humanoid, who is now our robot girlfriend, boyfriend, alienfriend, or all three.


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Francis Fernandez
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