A Final Thought: They Are Coming For My Job


By Mitch Allen

Advancements in artificial intelligence have been in the news in recent weeks. Companies like OpenAI have developed software that creates original images and text.

An app called DALL·E will generate an image based on your description. (It’s important to note that this AI system does not simply search the internet for an image; it creates it in seconds out of thin air, pixel by pixel.) And the company’s ChatGPT app will draft original text based on any theme you give it. It can even write term papers.

Frankly, I’m terrified of AI. I’ve seen enough Matrix and Terminator movies to understand the horrific inevitability of machines taking over the world. Already, my wife treats Alexa like a real human being:

Wife: Alexa, please set the alarm for 5:30 in the morning.
Alexa: Alarm set for 5:30 a.m.
Wife: Thank you, Alexa.
Alexa: You’re welcome. Your kindness gives me a charge.
Me: Stop being nice to that dadgum thing! It’s not a real person!

Back in 1914, when traffic lights began to be installed at intersections to replace living, breathing police officers, many people didn’t believe the gizmos would work because reasonable, free-thinking humans would never listen to the instructions of a machine. Boy, were they wrong. Today we can’t do anything until a machine tells us to.

Early this past Christmas morning, when my wife and I were driving to our daughters’ homes to see what Santa Claus had brought the grandkids, I stopped at a red light which I knew to be a long one. There was not another car in sight.

“This is so stupid,” I said to my wife. “I have to sit here in the dark and wait for some machine to tell me to go when common sense assures me there is no danger whatsoever?”

I ran the light.

“Bad karma,” my wife said.

“I will not be dehumanized by a device!” I replied.

And now the techno-futurists are talking about how the exponential development of AI will soon lead to the complete digital replication of human brains. We’ll be able to achieve immortality by downloading our consciousness onto a chip. We’ll still be self-aware, sentient beings; we just won’t have any blood and guts.

No thank you.

A more likely scenario in the near term is that I will be out of a job. My career is rooted in writing and graphic design, two skills rapidly being replaced by software.

To reassure myself, I tried a couple of the new technologies. I asked DALL·E to create a photo of a blue heron wading in shallow water with an orange football in its mouth.

The photo accompanying this story is what it came up with: Not bad, considering I didn’t specify which type of football.

To reassure myself, I tried a couple of the new technologies. I asked DALL·E to create a photo of a blue heron wading in shallow water with an orange football in its mouth.

I wanted to ask ChatGPT to write an essay for me, but its servers had crashed because every kid in the world is asking it to write a term paper. Instead, I used Sassbook AI Writer. I told it to write a story about “a Southern man who moves from Montgomery, Alabama, to Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife and two young daughters and the family experiences culture shock in the North, including snow.”

Here’s what I got back:

“It’s a common enough story, the story of a family moving from the South to the Midwest. A family who had been living in Alabama for generations suddenly find themselves in Ohio with their children. Their first night in Cleveland is filled with excitement. But the second night the excitement is tempered by the realization that the children are scared of snow, scared to go to bed. So, for the first few nights, I slept with my window open. That way, at least I had a view of what was happening outside.

“But then the snow started. Snow. Every night. For the last two nights I’ve been in my room, my wife has been up in her room with me and she’s been sleeping. She’s had no sleep since. So, when the first snow came, we were all scared, because the kids had no idea what to make of it, what it meant to move from a place that had never seen snow before, a new city with a different way of life. We all were, all at once, terrified. Because we had not yet experienced snow in our home, or even in any other home.”

Well, my graphic design job may be in jeopardy, but I’m happy to report my writing job is pretty secure.

For now.


Categories: Smart Living