Tag Archives: robots

I am not a Robot

I gotta tell you. Writing a shallow blog these days is tough. There are just so many things that make it hard. Believe me. It’s not just about the “moron” (not my words) down south. He’s a problem but like many things, he too shall pass. Unfortunately there are more endemic issues we all face over the long term. Like climate change. Unless you have been living under a rock, and one that miraculously hasn’t been uprooted by a major hurricane, or bulldozed by those brave men and women fighting the extraordinary fires of late, it seems almost impossible to deny that our climate is, in fact, changing, leaving paths of death and destruction in it’s wake. And guns. I suppose not guns in and of themselves. But guns without controls. Guns that end up in the hands of people who, perhaps due to mental illness or, in my less benevolent moments, are quite simply horrible, decide to use them to take away hundreds and thousands of innocent lives. Lately that’s happened a lot. Honestly, it seems not a week goes by without some natural or unnatural disaster taking place and so it’s hard. Hard to be shallow in this world of ours.

Here’s the thing. I’m sure you understand by now that even though I am a self professed shallow person, I have feelings. Just like you. Well almost. So all this stuff bothers me too. Afterall, I am not a robot. Google knows that ‘cause I always check off the “I am not a robot” CAPTCHA on their sites. Which is a good thing since, to be brutally honest, I don’t really like robots very much. As a matter of fact, I find them pretty creepy. And if I must say so myself, I’m in pretty good company with the likes of Elon Musk, and my personal fav, Dr. Sherry Turkle, weighing in on what our collective future could hold with a bunch of tin men and women walking by our sides. Ok, they might not be made of tin but, make no mistake about it, they will be walking by our sides.  

I’m guessing that for some of you this revelation may come as a bit of a surprise. Because you might expect that if anyone was going to embrace the prospect of having a companion who, for all intents and purposes, looks and feels like you and me but remains unencumbered by the complexities of the human condition, it would be me. After all, we’re talking about a facsimile that will pretty much do your bidding without batting an eyelash, which, by the way, they will have. No questions asked. No drama. No feelings to hurt. Actually, no feelings what so ever. They’ll laugh when you laugh, cry when you cry. Out of bananas? They’ll get those for you without all the whining that would normally accompany such a request to the “real” people who reside in your home. With a robot by your side you could start to think that life had become that proverbial bowl of cherries. And I’m pretty sure they’ll pit those for you too. So what’s my beef? Why would the shallow gal feel so apprehensive about what is clearly touted as the next best thing since sliced bread? Well, here’s why.

Call me crazy but somehow I don’t cherish the prospect of sharing my life with an animate, inanimate object. Especially one that has a brain programmed to learn way more than my brain ever will. I’m an adult educator. I know all about lifelong learning. But this brings that concept to a whole new level. We’re not talking just about intelligence. We’re talking about artificial intelligence. This is not computer assisted learning. This is computers actually learning. Computers that are walking around your homes, businesses, playgrounds. Yep, there too. Computers that are getting smarter and smarter every day. Certainly smarter than you and me but also smarter than the smartest people we have among us. And they’re going to look a lot like us, although they are never going to get blemishes or wrinkles or big brown spots on their faces and hands. Elon Musk is worried that robots will take away our jobs. Rightly so. They can already teach themselves how to walk and talk and very soon they will be able to do what you and I do, only much better. Sherry Turkle worries that we have become so accustomed to interacting with devices that soon we won’t know what’s real and what’s not. Nor will we care. It’s a worry for sure. But I’m worried about a couple of other things.

Like guns. Guns and robots. We all know that guns are a problem. Guns in the hands of the wrong people are a bigger problem. Guns in the hands of robots? A problem perhaps too big to imagine. Here’s a scenario for you. A robot walks into a gun shop. Asks to buy a gun. Of course they do a background check. Not a problem. Robots don’t have backgrounds. It gets the gun. Now it tells its robot friends how easy it was. They all decide this is a really good idea and do the same. Remember.  There are hundreds and hundreds of robots who are smarter than us and have no real feelings. But now they have guns. Maybe they decide they don’t like people who are not as smart as they are. Or maybe they decide they just want to have some fun. You know. Like in the movies or the video games. I don’t know about you but this seems like a big problem and a pretty good reason to not like robots very much.

But that’s not the only reason I don’t like robots. It seems to me that if anyone or anything could be more shallow than me, it would  be a robot. A really smart robot. With no feelings. Smarter and shallower than me. I’m guessing that robot would never be stumped for ideas about what to write. No matter what’s going on in this world of ours. Hmmmm. Maybe I need to give this some more thought. Under the circumstances, getting a robot to write this blog might not be such a bad idea. 

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It could happen to you


brainy-peopleI know I’ve said this before but at the risk of repeating myself, I thought I would mention that my Mother,
kenahora, (don’t worry, you can check it out here.) recently had her 100th birthday. And if you can excuse the redundancy, you should also know that my Mother has three sisters who are, respectively, 96, 94 and 85 years old. Their Mother was 102. So to say I know something about living long is a bit of an understatement. I know a lot about living long. And well for that matter because, if I might say so, all of these ladies have lived and are living, very wonderful lives. Which, as Martha would say (and yes, I’ve said this before too), is a very good thing. Given the facts, it’s not all that surprising that people who know this story of mine jump to the somewhat dubious conclusion that I too will one day find myself, hammer and nail in hand, placing that elusive to most plaque from the Queen (or more likely, in my case, the King) on my living room wall. And while I might, I also might not because, as you are most likely aware, there are no guarantees in this or any other life and one never knows what one will face each and every day. It’s just the way it goes. What will be will be. Ca sera sera.

Nevertheless, not too long ago I found myself watching a docu/news show about longevity and the amazing research taking place that will, sooner than later, let all of us live to be 1000. That’s right. Scientists tell us that it is possible that someone who is alive today will still be alive 1000 years from now. So if you are reading this, it could happen to you. Apparently there are various ways for this to come to pass, most of which I don’t care to understand as they seem to demand some rather invasive medical procedures, and one of which involves downloading your brain into a computer which doesn’t seem quite so onerous and I would imagine, would be somewhat faster and require much less direct participation from me. It’s complicated but I suppose if you think you are still thinking, perhaps you are. Cogito ergo sum.  And I suppose it wouldn’t be all that bad. Especially if they could take that computer brain and put it into a fantastic robot body. I mean, imagine. Not only could you live for a 1000 years but you could do it in someone else’s hot body. Like Marilyn Monroe. Or Jennifer Lopez. Or perhaps Ms. Streisand which in my particular case, wouldn’t be much of a stretch or, from what I hear, much different. But as compelling as all of this might sound, as a shallow person I got thinking about the prospect of being stuck on this earth for a thousand years and decided there could be a considerable downside because knowing what I know, I have to ask, who really wants to live to be 1000? And the more I thought about it, the more reasons I came up with, so in true “shallow be my name” fashion, I thought I would take this opportunity to share some of the most persuasive of them with you. Here they are. My top 10, most persuasive reasons for not wanting to live to be 1000 at the end of which, I am confident, you truly will be careful for what you wish.

#1. If you can live to be 1000 so can that irritating neighbor of yours.
#2. You’re gonna need a year’s worth of stars to get a free one at Starbucks and that’s a lotta lattes.
#3. Survivor season 753, and Jeff Probst is still counting the votes.
#4. Gas is $700.00 a litre, food costs you a couple grand a week and you haven’t had a raise in 500 years.
#5. 1000 years old and you still haven’t won the lottery.
#6. Just how many times do you think you can feign excitement when you hear “Honey, I’m home”!
#7. Meatloaf again?
#8. If you’ve said this once you’ve said it a million times. Literally.
#9. Your brain has been downloaded to a computer and you’re living in a robot body. Think about it.
#10. And last but not least, I’ll still be writing this blog and you’ll still feel obligated to read it 1000 years from now.

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