A comes before I — and I’m not sure why

Remember back in the good old days when AI was simply a reference to two of the five (and sometimes six) vowels in the consonant-heavy English alphabet?

These days, those two little vowels are weighing down on humanity like a sumo wrestler on an all-you-can-eat buffet, you dig?

Artificial intelligence is all at once exhilarating and apocalyptic, no?

According to Darrell M. West, author and vice president / founding director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution (I’m terrified of him already, BT dubs), AI is a misunderstood panacea for civilization. Unless, of course, it isn’t.

Hmm.

In an article he wrote for BI (where only scary smart people work, natch) a few months ago, he summarized it this way:

“Few concepts are as poorly understood as AI. … Hollywood helps little in this regard by fusing robots (into) the Terminator’s Skynet (PK note: he’s a killing machine) or the evil HAL from “2001: A Space Odyssey“… (this) enables technology pessimists to warn AI will conquer humans, suppress individual freedom and destroy personal privacy.”

Sounds fab. He goes on to emphasize that “…society needs to rethink the concept of jobs, reconfigure the social contract, and move toward a system of lifetime learning” among other ways to make AI copacetic.

I feel much better about it now. Thanks, Darrell.

Gulp.

All I know is, if my recent experience with an “upgrade” is any indicator, let’s just say my outlook for the next 365-plus scares the bejeepers out of me.

Shudder. Despite what West professes, I’m skeptical. Especially after some sinister and manipulative synthetic-brained cyborg targeted me for all kinds of bad operating system mojo.

First of all, he froze me out. Yes, I’m unfairly assessing male gender to this faceless, nameless virtual monster who wreaked havoc on me at my day job last week. Deal with it.

Not only did he see to it that it took me 37 hours to log onto the new-and-improved system, but he then proceeded to give me more backtalk than my toddler son when he was hungry and overdue for a nap by a day and a half, capsice?

We waged war on each other for many moons. Him tossing up weird failure warnings and fatal code flashes, and me cutting him off at his imaginary knees by rebooting — 892 times. He refused to relent.

Suddenly, I realized that 2 1/2 hours’ worth of work was POOF! faster than you can click a wireless mouse. They’re still floating somewhere around in space like poor Major Tom.

Finally, I had to admit defeat and call in the big guns, aka, my overworked buddies in information technology. #YouAreTheBestIT

My sweet pal Rob walked me, step by painful step, through the process of re-establishing connections, contacts, profiles and um, reconfiguring my thumbprint at one point, I think?

Poor Rob. My computer conundrum lasted two days and he never wavered. He was so even-keeled, proving that not only is patience a virtue but also a critical life skill.

And when the evil droids (not the good ones like R2D2 and BB8) crash the Internet and cause doomsday for us earthlings, I’m going straight to Rob.

When it comes to electronic Armageddon, you can have the Wests of the world with their prolific pontificating. I like my chances with those who can calmly restore your settings (virtually and literally), all with a kind word. #ThanksRob

Now there’s some good old-fashioned human authentic intelligence, Take that, cyborgs!

Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist who thinks HAL is real. Check out her blog before he vaporizes it www.patriciakimerer.com.

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