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

UPDATE Sep. 25, 2023: Wired had a piece about the voice upgrade for ChatGPT.

Artificial intelligence-powered self-driving cars, surgery robots, drones—and content generators. Anyone who has first seen the power of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard, and other generative AI tools will be amazed at their capabilities. These systems create new content or data that is increasingly difficult to distinguish from human-generated content. A user merely inputs a text “prompt” (command) into the chat box, and the AI will answer with on-the-fly text, images, audio, and more (see specific applications below).

Chatbots are writing everything from fiction and nonfiction to website copy and business plans to full-fledged programming code to answers to all your questions. If you prompt right, the responses are succinct, descriptive, learned, and, occasionally, absolutely flooring. These bots are causing plenty of sturm und drang among writers, business people, and content-driven industries.

And there’s more coming.

Search and Your Own Digital Assistant

Security expert Daniel Miessler suggests that generative AI will kill search engines and even websites themselves:

No browser. No URL. No reading a page. Just the answer. Instantly… You’ll just ask it things with your voice, or with text, on your mobile platform, and it’ll give you the answer directly. It has access to all the AIs it needs. It can read whatever website it needs. It does whatever it has to in order to find you the best answer.”

The Hollywood movie Her (2013) was prescient. Loner Theodore Twombly strikes up a romantic relationship with Samantha, his AI chatbot, who is an advanced conversational partner. Theodore converses with Samantha, and she starts gathering his life story, asking about his schedule, flagging his calls, and asking him more personal questions. Soon he starts to confide in her. Theodore has moved from relying on a digital assistant to an intimate friendship with a 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 lately, a word that has lost its social meaning and is just a term for onanism.)

It’ll know when you sleep, and it’ll collect stuff for you for when you wake up. It’ll filter the news for you. Tell you which emails matter and which to ignore. Which appointments are worth accepting… It’ll remind you to call your friends and family. It’ll schedule the perfect vacation. All the stuff we’ve been promised…it’ll be perfectly tailored to you” (Miessler).

Ten years later, we see Her was way ahead of its time.

It’s Impressive, But…

We may be there soon, but 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.

You get out of AI what you give it, and knowing how to prompt better is becoming a valuable skill (especially if you are a programmer co-writing code with an AI). AI-generated content can be unoriginal; and a lot of people paste the same articles as other similarly-worded pieces or just buy content.

Eventually, it all sounds the same.

That’s because generative AI creates content based on patterns learned from training data sets or “large language models” (LLMs). So the bots work with what they have, and the more generic your prompts, the more likely you will have unoriginal content.

While human-level intelligence is still some time away (the brain has billions of neurons with trillions of connections), the confluence of the technologies below may bring us closer.

The Many Forms of AI

The following systems are coming together to create some of the most advanced software ever created. Facial recognition combined with cameras at airport security. Drones mapping and scanning the streets of a major city. Online systems recording my likes, offering me something I was looking at, suggesting music I like, reading my emails, and noting what time I go to bed. Some of these technologies are also becoming creepy because they are all too human.

  • Machine Learning: Everything from Amazon to Yelp recommendations is powered by machine learning algorithms. ML also powers image recognition and self-driving vehicles.

  • Computer Vision: AI sees beyond what your eyes tell you. Computers can interpret and understand visual information and are used for facial recognition, object detection, and medical image analysis.

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP): Generative tools like ChatGPT are a part of NLP, and these tools play critical roles in other real-world applications, such as sentiment analysis, named entity recognition, language translation, and text classification.

  • Robotics: If you’ve seen robots like those of Boston Dynamics, you’ll realize the revolution happening to manufacturing and healthcare. We’ve also become accustomed to assembly(such as automobile) line robots, and you may have seen robotic surgery assistants.

  • Reinforcement Learning: Training agents can function as autonomous systems that provide awards or penalties, such as for gaming applications. Think of AI chess and military wargames.

  • Expert Systems: Human experts may be on their way out with this type of AI. The systems mimic humans in a specific profession and make decisions and recommendations. While healthcare and finance may not be laying off their experts yet, significant disruption is underway.

  • Deep Learning: At the base of self-learning AIs, deep neural networks provide the engines for speech recognition and autonomous navigation.

  • AI in Healthcare: Medical slide-sharing systems, investigative drug systems, disease prediction, and any of the myriad virtual health assistants out there. AI may also assist health experts in online patient treatment.

  • Autonomous Systems: Of course, AI powers self-driving cars, drones, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). While cars do not yet navigate at a human level, systems like drones and UAVs have been much better at navigating complex environments, such as airborne delivery vehicles and military eyes in the sky.

  • Business Intelligence: Organizations can better make data-driven decisions by combining predictive analytics, anomaly detection, and market forecasting. Responding to AI-gathered data can put a business ahead of its competition.

    The Future of AI

We’ve long seen how industries go through a sea change when new technologies arise. Generative AI represents only a tiny part of the potential of AI, and digital assistants are being touted as one response to humanity’s numerous challenges and problems, especially the problem of loneliness.

Samantha asked Theodore if he would like to enlist the help of a physical sex surrogate to mediate their virtual interactions. The result is failure when Theo can’t divorce his thinking of Samantha from the interaction with the physical surrogate. One would think Theo would be the one to ask for this tie to the physical and not Samantha. But his reaction to the surrogate shows a person’s need for a real physical encounter and not a disembodied voice.

AI may provide a lot of functionality for business applications, personal schedules, and, eventually, advice and inspiration. But will we surrender so much of ourselves to a program that we will rely on it before other people? Some men have already rented a girlfriend chatbot.

Conclusion: What’s Left For Humans?

So beyond the relational questions, generative AIs like ChatGPT are exploding in complexity and will enable workers to manage their time, duties, and personal lives. I list a few examples of generative technologies below.

So what will help you compete against AI? Let’s look at Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer study. The company polled customers about the service they received from the companies they interacted with. The results stressed the importance of a human touch in the AI era: only 37% of customers trust AI to be as accurate as a human employee, and 81% said they want a human to be active in the relationship. The speed and efficiency of technology advances are increasing, but business processes still need to be integrated. Fifty-five percent of customers reported that they deal with separated departments and have a disjointed experience when communicating with an organization.

With the increase in desire for a good customer experience, customers are asking for personal treatment. Chatbots can help bridge the gap between customer and customer service, but humans should still be the last mile of business processes by reviewing and validating AI outputs. Trust is still earned.

And what about my profession? You can’t fight progress—totally. I tell clients that buying content farm writing could consist of a generic list of ten items surrounded by an uninteresting introduction, a neat conclusion, and incorrect citations and fabricated facts. (AI can create bogus content called hallucinations.) Teachers are dealing with an influx of this generic, generated content and are flunking students who turn in assignments generated with AI. (There are now apps that claim to recognize if text is AI-generated, but the results are somewhat sketchy.)

But as a writer, I want to bring what only a human can to his work. As some have suggested, using AI to get a start on a piece of text could be considered legitimate usage of an AI (knowing how to prompt well in the first place). Giving the text your anecdotes and life story, personal spin, and finishing the necessary, verifiable research (at least until hallucinations are part of the past) is your duty. SEO guru Neil Patel also suggests making your content unique with real data, relatable people, detailed experiences, and adding influencers to your content.

In the end, I want to wrap up my work with a little personal flair. Samantha is just not available to help.


Specific Applications of Interest

Keep an eye on these AI products and projects of interest:

Image Creation

DALL-E: Developed by OpenAI, DALL-E generates images from textual prompts, much like chatbots.

Bing Image Generator: This updated image generator now has DALL-E3 integration.

DeepDream: This Google tool transforms photos into surreal images.

Midjourney: This Discord-based tool is one of the most advanced image generators.

Music Composition

Magenta: This Google research project can create music and art, even creating harmony with existing tunes.

DeepComposer: Give this Amazon tool a short melody, and it can compose an entire song. It’s another personal assistant that takes a musical introduction and parameters for a machine learning algorithm that will complete the piece. The system includes a sample library of music that the system is trained on.


Procedural Content Generation: Before most AI systems, the complex world of video game production has used AI to generate characters and maps for years. Nintendo, Rockstar Games, Valve, Activision, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft create worlds and stories that continue to surprise.

Cicero: Meta’s AI that plays “Diplomacy” at a human level using strategic reasoning and natural language (Meta). Generates playable Magic the Gathering cards (Urza).

Voice Generation

Polly: This Amazon Web Services tool converts text to speech in three levels, the highest of which companies can use to create a customized voice for their brand.

WaveGAN and Tacotron: You may have heard about deepfakes-–AI-generated video and voices from a sample of someone’s face or voice. Some voice deepfakes are now so convincing that employees have been fooled into releasing funds to supposed C-Suite executives on the phone who need immediate transfers.

Face Generation

StyleGAN: StyleGAN and its variations generate highly realistic faces, which have applications in art, entertainment, and deepfake generation.

Thispersondoesnotexist.comThis was one of the first face generators out there that showed what AI is capable of. (Refresh the page continually for a new person.)

Medical Applications

IBM AI: One of the company’s generative models performs drug design:

[T]here are more possible chemical combinations of a new molecule than there are atoms in the Universe” (IBM).

Specifically, IBM is searching for antimicrobial peptides to fight specific diseases.


Internal Revenue Service: The agency is using AI to catch tax evaders.

National Security Agency: AI and machine learning are interwoven in security applications like unmanned drones and facial recognition.


SlackAI: Soon-to-launch feature that will provide channel recaps, summaries of threads, and updates that will make searching and finding more information from past messages.


Microsoft’s CodeAssist: This service provides code suggestions to programmers. It functions as a “co-pilot,” with the programmer in control. Like ChatGPT, the service can transform a text prompt into functioning code.

ChatGPT: If you know your code, ChatGPT can create what you need by a voice prompt, sometimes without editing.

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?

Continue reading “Going Meta – the Higher Calling”

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”