Artificial Intelligence?

I see kids everyday who are mesmerized by their smart phones. Adults too. Everything that’s important to them is there. Or so you’d think. There are people who cannot keep their hands off of or their nose out of it sometimes for more than a few seconds. People who have anxiety attacks if they are away from home and discover they forgot to bring their life-line with them. If they haven’t already, this addiction or psychosocial disorder needs to be added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). (Had to put that in for my buddies back at the VA. I think I had one or two. Well, maybe not.)

What did we do before the Internet. Sometimes I question whether Al Gore did a good thing when he invented it. Our search engines once resided between our ears and in the library. Internet search engines put a bazillion tons of information right at our fingertips. It all begins right after the multiple entries that paid for their spots near the top. We once familiarized ourselves with the author’s bona fides before we accepted the work as a reference. Now we can’t even be sure the author is really the author. I wrote something quite a few years back that made some laps around the net. It was edited, rewritten, retitled by anonymous editors and it’s still out there. Snopes even said it was false before they said it was true. Anyone can have a website up and running in minutes – I’m living proof and everything I write is the absolute truth. At least as I see it.

What did we do before cell phones? Phones are supposedly getting smarter as are all computing machines. When our phones, computers, or some software engineer does our thinking for us does that make us smarter or dumber? Something for the philosophical types to ponder. We now have robots that can see to our intimate needs. Life is happening around us devoid of physical human contact. There must be something unhealthy about that. Are people becoming more emotionally attached to their gadgets and robotic hook ups than to other humans? Do they become desperate when there’s no cell signal or wi-fi?

How long since you received a handwritten note? I used to get an occasional email with a friendly note. Then I started getting hate mail from people who were not fans of my prose. They thought that since I had an email address it was okay to cuss me out seven ways from Sunday. I also used to get those emails warning me that my arms and legs would fall off and my house would burn down if within the next seven minutes I didn’t forward it to everyone in my address book. Thankfully all of that stuff is now on Facebook and Twitter. If you don’t share this post for example, you will forever be locked up in Facebook hell, that is if you really give a Twit.

When I worked, way back, I used to get annoyed with the know it all types. They would waste a lot of my time telling me all the magnificent functions I could perform with the program of the day. They were really good at everything except pulling a product out of it. They hated me and others like me because we would sort out the few necessary functions to do our job and that was it. We did not need the hi-liters, filters, sorters and special links to the real stuff. These are the people who would use the GPS to go to the grocery store or an app to order the groceries delivered in so they can spend more time holding hands with their robot sweeties. Too scary for me.

Over on the table, I have a radio my Dad built. It is solid state, with AM, FM and short-wave bands. He gave it to me in 1980 and it still works just fine. You should not be allowed to listen to AM radio on any other device. Not too far from it sits a Royal manual typewriter. Its purpose these days is to hold my Cubs World Series Champion baseball cap. It’s a portable too, the original laptop. I want to see you work that puppy with our thumbs. Do any of you have an app that’ll fix my next plumbing leak or shovel the global warming from my driveway? If you do, call me on the rotary dial.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry

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