AI and Alexa
This weeks social media theme has been Artificial Intelligence and, if I'm honest, I have struggled to post for this one. I'm a traditional girl, despite running a modern internet company. I prefer books to TV, walks to drives and don't even own an Alexa. Heck, I would have a horse and cart if I could! But that got me thinking, is an Alexa the step from a traditional home to an AI house? Now as a person who doesn't live with one, I can only comment so far, but then I guess that also gives me a perspective that those living with them won't have. We can use their technology to control most things in our house, and the list is never ending, depending on how deep your pockets are, but even then those on low incomes can shout orders across the room and have this little black box do things for them, or remotely access their doorbell from a smartphone wherever they are.
Did anybody ever watch the episode of The Simpsons where the house was wired up to a mainframe computer, the equivalent of what we would now consider a smart house. If you have then you will be all to aware that the AI controlling the house tries to kill the Simpson family, if you haven't a quick google will soon remedy that. But how far do we trust AI in controlling our lives Do you worry about the toaster getting upset and burning all your toast or the kettle attempting to scold you? Or like me, do you consider AI to me nothing more than a fancy computer that can only do as it its told and still gets that wrong? There was recently a case in the newspaper where a bitter ex- girlfriend who had access to her ex-boyfriends Alexa and home security passwords access the system to frighten said ex-boyfriends new girlfriend, needless to say the new lady soon fled the house n tears (lesson learnt, change your passwords). But again this brings up another question, if you believed in AI then yes this could be a scary thing to experience, but if you didn't believe in AI then why not unplug the appliance giving you bother?
So where does the limit lie when it comes to allowing computers to rule our lives. For those born before the 21st century, you will remember the days when computers where simply a means to an end, the telephone was wired to the wall and teachers told us we had to learn maths because 'we wouldn't always have a calculator on us' when we got older (the irony of how that turned out), but anyone born into the 21st century knows nothing but a life governed by computers, every child has a smart phone and android tablet by the time they start school, if not something more advance. My teenage daughter considers emails to be 'old fashioned', her exact words where that "emails are for old people, no-one uses them anymore". Our entire lives are ruled by our phones. Our banking, contact with friends and family, photos, appointments, its all done electronically, and of course this was fuelled by the pandemic.
I have met robots though, at the Museum of Science & Industry a few years ago, we had a conversation with Peppa before he became more widely available. It was fascinating, but a bit creepy at the same time. My son was a toddler at the time and spent much of the visit with his head buried into my shoulder. The robots are always given a human element, is this to trick our minds into accepting something that is essentially unnatural, or simply because humans like to humanise things? Either way it is a topic that has been around for a long time, but has fast encroached on our lives. Whether we choose to accept the reality of it or not, I guess, falls down to each person individually.