In the News … Artificial Intelligence

There’s been lots of speculation on A.I. technology and it’s impact. If A.I. can create images, will it replace artists? If A.I. can write articles, will it replace journalists? If A.I. can write blog posts … should I even bother?

When I was working in the dark ages of the ’90s, the term disruptive technology was first introduced. It described the then nascent internet, e-commerce and mobile phones. Disruptive technology is defined as innovation which significantly changes the way people, industry and systems operate. Anyone who’s lived through the 90’s can attest to the difference in lifestyle before and after these inventions.

I view A.I. as another disruptive force, one which will change how and why we do things. Some will be for the better. Some will be for the worse. Some will be both.

Consider this. In 1995 no one knew how to make money on the internet. Online commerce was a new thing and many big box retailers viewed it as a novelty but no real threat to their ‘brick and mortar’ business. In 1995 Jeff Bezos launched from his garage. It wasn’t even a blip on booksellers’ concerns. They were more focused on the future of indie bookshops against mega- booksellers like Borders and Barnes & Noble.

Remember the Meg Ryan & Tom Hanks in “You’ve Got Mail”?

Nowadays … does Borders and Barnes & Noble even exist?

Borders does not. It went into liquidation in 2011.

Barnes & Noble is still around but it almost collapsed before being sold off in a fire sale. Both companies suffered from the rise of Amazon and the shift to online and digital sales.

Interestingly enough, Barnes & Noble is currently experiencing a comeback.

Key to its recovery was the change in approach to have chain stores act more like independent bookshops.

As it turns out, Meg Ryan’s business model was the salvation of Barnes & Noble!

The trick to being a big-box bookseller is to not be a big-box bookseller.

-Nathan Borney, “How Barnes & Noble CEO rescued the bookstore chain”. March 3, 2023

My point is that A.I. has the potential to change the way people and industry work. How it does, isn’t always obvious. In this article The New York Times gave examples of people using A.I. to their advantage.

Eli Snyder, a special-education teacher in Colorado, wanted to play basketball with his students. He had questions: How could he adapt the game for a child with cerebral palsy? And how could he help his students with autism play a highly stimulating activity?

Snyder could have found this information through a simple Google search. He turned to ChatGPT because it produced complete paragraphs instead of delivering links that would have left him with more clicking and synthesizing to do. The chatbot’s response helped him quickly write adapted lesson plans for each of his students.

“It’s been revolutionary,” Snyder, 30, said. “What used to take me an hour now takes me five minutes.”

“Everyone is talking about how A.I. is going to replace us,” Snyder said. “I don’t agree with that. It’s going to free up more time at our jobs to do other, more productive things.”

-Lauren Jackson, ” How A.I. Can Help“. The New York Times, March 2, 2023

Now, isn’t that cool.

On the other hand, this opinion piece Ezra Klien is thought provoking. It’s based on observations by Ted Chiang, the sci-fi writer.

“I tend to think that most fears about A.I. are best understood as fears about capitalism,” Chiang told (… Klein …). “And I think that this is actually true of most fears of technology, too. Most of our fears or anxieties about technology are best understood as fears or anxiety about how capitalism will use technology against us. And technology and capitalism have been so closely intertwined that it’s hard to distinguish the two.”

We are so stuck on asking what the technology can do that we are missing the more important questions: How will it be used? And who will decide?

-Ezra Klien, “Opinion: The Imminent Danger of A.I Is One We’re Not Talking About.” New York Times, Feb 26, 2023

Now, that’s sobering.

Especially given the recent tribunals on Big Techs’ accountability for disseminating falsehoods on social media platforms. Falsehoods which in turn influenced government elections and public opinion. At what point is “It’s only a platform” as inadequate a defense as “Guns don’t kill, people do”?

I remember the early days of Facebook, Twitter et al. As a techie, my fascination was in the engineering, not the ethics of the capability. Least of my concern were the implications of unfettered success. From a business side, the questions being asked were “HOW to make it profitable?” not “SHOULD it be a business?”

Somewhat naively, I thought this would sort itself out. I guess Mark Zuckerberg thought so too.

What are your thoughts on A.I.?

Do you see the potential for good? Or do you think it is HAL, HER and M3GAN made real?

Will you blog about it? or use ChatGPT to do it for you?


  1. It’s interesting to explore the good, bad and ugly about artificial intelligence. In my opinion, there’s always a trade-off with all types of technology and it doesn’t always have the best end result. Sure, we have the world at our fingertips with our smart phones, but at what cost? Yesterday, I looked around my living room to realize that my husband, his two adult children (one visiting from two hours away and the other visiting from Europe) were all engrossed in something on their respective personal devices, as was I. We finally had them both home at the same time and nobody was talking.

    The ChatGPT trend is amusing, in a “who’da thunk it” kind of way, but it’s soul-less and only as helpful as the sources it cross-checks. As it is, the algorithms in all our daily perusing lead us to believe that our experience is the only one, so how long could it be before the “sources” used by this technology are driven by only the most popular opinion which feeds into itself until no other information exists?

    I’m pretty sure I’ve read (or tried to read) articles that were written by artificial intelligence and I found them dull and riddled with redundancy and contextual errors. This technology may be adept at drawing facts from other sources and stringing together sentences to satisfy a question or curiosity, but in my view, it can never take the place of real writers. It’s the viewpoint, experience, heart and humor that I love, and A.I. will never be able to match that for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very thought-provoking, and you’ve found some interesting views from others to quote too. I’m wary of AI when it comes to writing but I am finding some photo editing AI tools useful – for instance in Luminar I can instantly remove power lines instead of erasing them laboriously myself (although it isn’t perfect at identifying them – yet!) and Topaz Sharpener AI is a godsend!

    I suspect that like most technologies AI will have its good and bad points and what will matter is who is using it, how and to what purpose. After all, the very first inventions that man made, such as how to make fire and wheels, have been used for both good and evil purposes over the years. Modern inventions are no different in that respect. What’s evolving is the pace of change and the speed with which inventions get adopted by the masses, which in turn gives us that sense of not being in control.

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    1. Very good points Sarah. All of which I echo, especially the last one about the pace & rate of change. The thing about that too, is that change is not always predictable. Putting down boundaries, restrictions and legislations is challenging, because one doesn’t know what will happen and you cannot restrict everything.

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  3. Interesting references here. I already blogged my thoughts on it, but I have to say, I admire people who can think of new applications for these tools, like using ChatGPT in a productive way to solve a problem. It sounds simple but try doing it yourself! I get writer’s block trying to think of what to apply it to. Same for Jeff B., though apparently a cruel boss nowadays, he had a vision and built an empire. (Don’t know how connected he was to start off with, but still, quite a story).
    I recently read an interesting article about Bing’s trials with AI as a search engine feature, have you read it? It’s very scifi!

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    1. Interesting article. Thanks for sharing. For me, it points to something that should not be done when using AI (or any tech) to write or interact with people. Machines should not pretend to be human. Fascimiles of emotion and sentiment are out of bounds.

      I’m guessing that the Microsoft engineers thought they were being user-friendly. More likely, they were being smug at their smartness. This is an example of how ‘smart’ technologists are not smart ethicists. Much like visionary leaders are not always (ever) good managers.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the Eli Snyder quote, “It’s going to free up more time at our jobs to do other, more productive things.” That’s practically the same wording I remember from when computers first came along. We were all going to get more time off to have fun and enjoy ourselves while computers took care of the drudgery. How did that turn out? I also remember how the internet was going to make all this information and knowledge available to people and instead it’s swamped with misinformation.
    Bottom line is that AI has great potential to be an asset to people but, as always, some people will use it for their own gain, to the detriment of others, as we always do and always have. But is that for better or for worse? It’s change and the merits of that change will always be a matter of opinion.


    1. I think the difference with AI, as it’s been acknowleged now in the media, has to do with its public accessibility and potential for manipulation. When AI or machine learning was being used to manage IT networks, logistics and medical analysis – no one cared so much about the ethics.

      However, ChatGPT has everyones’ attention because it smacks on stuff we read & see all the time. Plus, everyone’s seen the movies where this can all play out badly!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hasn’t the A.I. conversation exploded in recent weeks, thanks to Chatgpt. Initially there was fear and disgust, fear about the issues with plagiarism which still I think is largely unresolved, disgust that artists and writers might become obselete. My concerns were with creepy standardization of opinions. If we don’t write what is in our own minds, the amount of differing perspectives will shrink, and opinoins and analyse become same-y. Am I wrong to be concerned about this? A.I. is only as good as the data it has been trained on. It can’t really “learn” and evolve can it? So – who controls the info put into chatgpt? A start up company……
    We have these worries to work through and I have gone from disliking it to considering it as an aid when I have too much copy to produce and not enough time. Eek!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amanda, you might be interested in this Forbes article written 2 years ago by Callum Chace. Even though ChatGPT is only now making the news, AI in the news media has been a fact for years.

      Given the vacuous articles that persist in my news aggregator, I’m not surprised that BuzzFeed & DailyMail has been using AI to generate content. But I was surprised to see that BBC, Bloomberg & Financial Times have been using AI too.


  6. This is certainly a very insightful take on the most talk-about topic these days, Sandy.
    As for my thoughts on AI, I’m a bit cautious about it. As days are passing by, with more and more advancement in this field, the line is getting thinner between human creativity and machine creativity.


    1. As I read more about it, I become more aware of how much more I need to know. How & Why are not easy questions given any technology that’s at the beginning of it’s mainstream adoption.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you Neil. A lot of technology is invisible and seems irrelevant to everyday life. I’ve given a couple links here that can give you some background. If you read about it once, I guarantee that you’ll suddenly see references to it everywhere 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have recently read a number of articles about AI being used to produce newspaper articles. And being used for blogging too. I guess that in not-so-distant future it’d be impossible to differentiate between a man made article and an AI article.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve read that news media have already been using AI for years. Buzzfeed & DailyMail for examples, where it’s not too surprising giving the (lack of quality) articles. But even bigger more trustworthy companies like Bloomberg and BBC have their own AI systems to generate content. The fact that it’s only now, because of ChatGPT that we’re aware of it … indicates the distant future is not so distant afterall.

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