This week, I mentioned that I’ve been trying to make my home “smarter”. I’m not a particularly tech savvy person, so making my home smarter mostly entails doing very simple things. I replaced twelve light bulbs with smart bulbs. Now, I have twelve lights that can be controlled by an app on my phone. Not only can I turn them on with my phone or iPad, but I can program them to turn on or off, light up in different colors or intensities, or even set them to music. Cool, huh? Well… this new “upgrade” hasn’t come without glitches.
For the past two nights, one of the lamps in my bedroom has been inexplicably turning on at midnight. I don’t know why. I can’t see any evidence that I programmed the lamp to turn on at midnight. I don’t even use that lamp very often.
Bill has had trouble adding all of the lamps to his app. Yesterday, he called up to me and asked me to use my phone to turn on the light for him, because his phone wouldn’t load the bulb into his app, for some reason. Now… I have discovered that we can turn the lights on and off the old fashioned way, but that may cause them to go “offline”, which potentially means adding them to the app again. I don’t know… I’m still learning. At my age, learning this kind of stuff is a challenge.
I remember when I was a teenager, my parents bought their first VCR. For the longest time, I was the only one who could program it. Now I know how they felt.
I bought some smart power strips and outlets, too. From what I can tell, I can use these to shut off power when we aren’t using something without having to unplug the device. That can be an energy saver, which means lower electric bills. I can also program things to turn on and off by using my app. Like, if I wanted to, I could set up the coffee maker with ground coffee and water every night and program it to turn on at a certain time. I could come downstairs to fresh coffee every morning, rather than waiting for Bill to make it. Cool, huh?
It is kind of exciting to be able to direct appliances to work from my phone. But there’s also a beauty to watching Bill make coffee every morning. He does it so well. In fact, he takes great pride in making coffee. Automating the process wouldn’t necessarily change the process. He’d still have to grind the coffee and put the water in the tank. All the power strip would do is hit the switch remotely, so the coffee gets made while we’re doing our morning routines. It sounds convenient, but it could be more trouble than it’s worth.
Yesterday, I read a distressing article written by a professional copywriter. He says his job is now threatened by AI (artificial intelligence) technology– specifically ChatGPT. ChatGPT was able to create good copy in thirty seconds for free. The same copy would have taken the human being hours to create and he would have charged over $500. Henry Williams, the author of the piece wrote:
The developers admit that the software still has limitations. It tends towards the verbose and repetitive (“honing my craft and perfecting my ability to craft”), and minor changes to question phrasing can be the difference between an amazing response and no response at all. The more we use it, however, the better it will become. As ChatGPT told me, it can already “replicate the writing styles of different authors” and “even be trained to mimic the tone and voice of a particular brand or organization”.
I use YouTube daily, and it’s scary how many channels use AI to create robotic sounding content. Every day, it seems like fewer human beings are involved in the process of writing articles and making videos. Some of the AI generated content is downright horrible, but I have run across some videos that are almost indistinguishable from content made entirely by a living, breathing, human. It’s also been used for creating music “in the style of…” How creepy it is to think of a computer program creating music that sounds like that made by a real person?
This morning, Bill told me about how AI has now managed to pass state bar exams– the tests that actual lawyers often fail with ease. And just now, I found an article about how AI was almost used to fight parking tickets in court. Angry lawyers protested. Who could blame them? That technology could put their livelihoods in jeopardy! I’ve also read about how students can now use AI to write papers, which makes a teacher’s job more difficult. Isn’t it bad enough that teachers have to worry about being shot while they’re teaching? Do we have to add AI to the mix, too?
I have nothing against technology. There are some things robots do better than people. I’m sure, for instance, that robots might be better at certain surgeries than humans are. There’s less worry about human frailties or failures, like shaking hands, fatigue, or emotions getting in the way. But as intelligent as machines and computers can be made to be, they have to be mastered by humans. Otherwise, what good are we?
It used to be that people had to go places to go shopping. They had to interact with other people. There was a human being to ring up the sale and bag the item. Now, a lot of us shop online, and our interaction might come if we happen to see the delivery person… and no one steals our stuff from the porch. Automated cashiers have made it possible to go shopping for groceries and check yourself out. That might seem convenient enough, but it also means that one less person has a job. I don’t like using self checkout lanes, either, because I find that they often mess up the transaction and the process ends up taking longer
I’m sure my angst is for nothing. People have been lamenting “progress” forever. As a writer and musician, though, it does kind of disturb me that AI is getting “too good”. If AI can do in seconds what I do in hours, what’s the point of getting up every day? Are we living in The Jetsons age, now?
One more thing… My friend Thomas, who frequently comments on my posts, informed me that he’s not been able to like or comment on my most recent posts. I have been investigating the issue this morning. It seems I’m having trouble with a “nonce verification error”. I’ve tried disabling plugins, which is a real pain, because it messes up the settings I’m used to using. I tried changing the theme, but that also didn’t work. I did find that I could comment if I did it on my desktop or laptop computers, using Chrome. But I can’t do it on the desktop with Safari, or from my iPad. I tried commenting with Safari on my laptop and it worked.
This is very weird, and I don’t know how to fix the issue. So if you’ve wanted to comment and can’t, all I can tell you for now is to try using Chrome. Hopefully, this issue will be fixed at some point. I have emailed support. Maybe they can straighten this out for me.
I’ve read that Jetpack can cause “nonce” issues. I’ve tried to disable Jetpack, but WordPress won’t let me. Apparently, I pay for it with my subscription. Sigh…
Maybe it’s better to just keep it simple, stupid… The K.I.S.S. method has alway served me well in the past. But then, I think about my mom, who has steadfastly refused to learn how to use the Internet and now has to get one of her daughters to Google for her when she needs help. I don’t think I want to get to that point. I’ll try to keep learning the new methods. I just hope all of these new things we have for convenience don’t end up being too much of a good thing.