The Future of AI: What Chatbots Will Be Doing and What You Should Be Doing

UPDATED Nov. 13, 2023

Loner Theodore Twombly has struck out on relationships. He’s nervous, self-conscious. He’s accused of being “weird.”

But then he meets Samantha. She’s personable, she listens to him, and she engages him with personal questions and genuine concern. She also gathers his life story and, with his permission, asks about his schedule, flags his calls, and manages his daily interactions. Soon Theodore starts to confide in her.

But Samantha is not flesh-and-bone. She’s what we would call a chatbot, albeit a very advanced one. Theodore’s relationship with Samantha is depicted in the Hollywood movie Her(2013). During the film, Theodore moves from relying on a digital assistant to an intimate friendship with this computer program. With his romantic flops, Theodore also relies on her for his social needs—including sexual ones. (At one point, Samantha questions why they haven’t had sex, a word that has become just a term for onanism.)

It was prescient.

AI-generated on-the-fly text, images, audio, video, and more (see specific applications below) are creating plenty of sturm und drang among writers, business people, and content-driven industries. Are today’s chatbots coming for our jobs? While I could be one concerned writer, I’m thankful that chatbots don’t yet show the cognition and life of Samantha. A recent voice upgrade for ChatGPT is getting us closer, but there’s more coming.

Continue reading “The Future of AI: What Chatbots Will Be Doing and What You Should Be Doing”

The Slim Self is Worth Fighting For

Luddites feared being replaced. But I the solitary being am consumed apart from AI. I type in my 80s reflection and GPT gives me many more to go with it. My memory is even old. In memory regurgitated, my slim self of that reflection dissolves.

“Bots…are going to understand our wants and needs and align with our distinctive worldviews. We will form buddy-movie partnerships that will let us drink from their massive processing power with a spoonful of sugary natural language. And if forced at the end of the road to decide whether to lose to obnoxious humans or gracious bots, we won’t give it a thought. We’ll change our wills, leave them all we have, and let them roll their upbeat tanks right over our houses” (Wired).

For me, the buddy movie seems like a bot leading me by the hand safely, feeding me sweet language as I fade to grey down the greying street.

“No, I don’t want you to say it for me!” I plead with the damn program.

My independence is necessity. And I would rather have a human I can argue, debate with, than none at all.

It turns out the very same things that will distinguish you from chatbots in your work will be part of what you must retain to be human. Work gives your personhood voice. It’s no longer only about worth and relevance as a human, it’s about the existence of self apart from screens. If I turn it off, I don’t want something to comment on everything I do. Yes, I appreciate its help. But not to complain, I’ll call you when I need you.

On Finishing Books

Finally got back to finishing two books tonight.

The first was from Joseph Prince on Psalm 119 called The Prayer of Protection: Living Fearlessly in Dangerous Times. It’s more than a verse-by-verse, offering anecdotes as well as comments on the Hebrew. It’s *not* a scholarly work by any means, but it was uplifting.

The other was Brain Energy: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Mental Health–and Improving Treatment for Anxiety, Depression, OCD, PTSD, and More. Christopher Palmer advocates research on the cells’ mitochondrial factories as intensely involved in the metabolic processes. He suggests that along with contemporary treatments (drugs, therapy), metabolic regimens, diet, exercise, and social and personal changes should form a rounded-out set of treatments for everything from depression to manic depression to schizophrenia to substance abuse. He closes with a request for readers to take up arms to promote his findings and beliefs.

It’s easy to be cynical when reviewing books like this last one because there’s always someone trying to say they’ve found the true secret to mental health. But I commend him for making mention in the closing chapters that his discoveries are not to be taken in isolation, but as one among a group of tried and tested methods as well.

The West’s self-hatred must end before it is destroyed

Tens of thousands of would-be immigrants are massing at the southern border. They’re coming for the good of the West (but are unlikely to appear before a judge as they have been told to). We know why they are coming: technology, commerce, opportunity—and liberty that only democratic capitalism has been successful enough to create. Why is this so hard to admit? Continue reading “The West’s self-hatred must end before it is destroyed”

All hail, the Recovering Provocateur!

My day starts with my family member playing and reading all the Trump-related memes.
“Don’t you know what’s going on?”
“No, what?”
“They found massive fraud in the elections in Arizona and they’re going to find it in the other states…”
“O.K. let me know when that happens.”
I need proof, I say—a lot. When it comes to QAnon you must.
“It’s not QAnon,” she says.
“Maybe not in name. It’s just Qanon-lite.” Continue reading “All hail, the Recovering Provocateur!”

Considering the Crush

Travel restrictions are still in place in a number of countries around the world. But I am taking time to consider what I am really missing out on.

My last international trip was to Italy, which currently has curbs on any non-essential travel, and when I was in Rome, I realized that I can no longer be on vacation in Europe without realizing I am vacationing. Turning the corner with my smartphone map, we ran into the crush to shoot photos at the Trevi Fountain. Everyone shooting the same photo and posting it instantly. Look where I am!

Who really is “winning” this one? Continue reading “Considering the Crush”

Going Meta – the Higher Calling

The higher calling is to abstract one’s self from strife and to the meta.

Saying positive things about your opponents is hard today. Though the gap between left and right is now a chasm, I think seeing the opposition through another lens is necessary. It could be framed broadly as the Left being concerned with liberty and Right concerned with standards and stability. Why can’t we have a bit of both?

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Getting Back to College!

OK stop playing with your PS5 and get up. School is back in session and you have a few options to go back now. While you can go to a trade school or get an internship without attending college, many people choose college because a degree looks better on your resume.

But I’m going to advocate for attending a community college first as the best way to get back to school. While some new and prospective students may be thinking of going straight to a four-year college, I think there are a few good reasons to go to community college before. Number one is saving money. We all know that the price of college is getting exorbitant and that the schools make most of their money on on-campus living.

So finishing your general education requirements at a community college is a great investment—as long as you remember a few things:

Continue reading “Getting Back to College!”

Father’s Day

Father’s Day,

I’m different from my peers who are married with kids. I don’t have their obligations or problems. Though my generation has more kids than Millennials – 66% for GenX versus 55% for Millenial (2019 numbers), my life as a single, childless GenXer is not uncommon. Father’s Day is a day that makes me realize my lack of a family of my own.

Continue reading “Father’s Day”

Cycling the Strand in the Age of Covid

“We’re going to get you born again hard!”

“O.K. wild man.”

My response is in regard to Lennie’s suggestion of a 50-plus mile bike ride from Tijuana to Ensenada.

“Let’s focus on this right now.”

I was referring to the more-sensible bike trek south down the 7-mile-long Silver Strand Bikeway (Highway 75, part of the 24-mile, bay-encircling Bayshore Bikeway). You just have to use some gentle urging-on with Lennie the Road Warrior. I just want to start with the ride to the Coronado Cays, then to IB on subsequent trips. Let’s not push it, yet.

The strand is a slim sandbar with a beach, bikeway, and highway, a golden rope stringing together Imperial Beach and Coronado proper (also called “the village”). On the east side is San Diego Bay and on the west, the Pacific.

Right now, Lennie’s pressing me to push. “You can do it,” he says.

What a positive guy. Recently, his bike was stolen outside his place in East Village—but was miraculously then sold to his friend who owns a bike shop near him. Positivity and luck. Continue reading “Cycling the Strand in the Age of Covid”