Driverless

I found a draft I’d written before corona, and thought I’d publish it now just to get a bit of a change of subject. Corona is on my mind day and night.

The photos are from an art exhibition years ago – little cities made out of used pill wrappers. Cities and medicine seem very fitting at this time, almost like the artist knew what was coming.

***

Driverless

At work, AI is all the hype. Artificial intelligence.

We’re not quite there yet but that’s the goal. It won’t be long now.

Mostly, it’s being developed for marketing and sales purposes: prospecting, customer retention. I heard that Google and Facebook have the world’s biggest AI labs and you can only imagine what’s going on there. Marketers talking about AI believe that they key to bliss is making everything more personalized for the target audience. Personalized content, services, product proposals, ad copy… that’s how we should be selling. That’s the right way. Optimise everything.

But… do customers really want a personalized experience (at the expense of having all of the corporate world know every detail about their online behavior)? Will a personalized ad make me happy? Will it make me buy something I don’t need and wouldn’t otherwise seek out? What if personalization gets it wrong, won’t it just annoy me even more?

What if I change my preferences? Am I allowed to change my mind and how will the personalized ads know I suddenly became environmentally conscious? Will they continue to throw non-green product ads at me?

And selling products… is that still what makes the world go round? Why not use AI for something more useful, like medicine or cleaning the ocean? (Edit: Or predicting corona.) All of the resources used on creating algorithms for marketing could have been spent more usefully, if you really think about it.

At work, I attended a presentation about passenger ferries that are soon going to be auto-drived. Ferries on auto-pilot. Wait, what? Who wants that – not me! Nor would I want to be in a driverless car, thank you very much, or any other kind of vehicle. (Please stop developing these things.) I hear the metro here is about to go driverless too. What kind of market demand are they satisfying by coming up with these things? Does anyone really want this?

At the office, AI is supposed to replace humans doing mundane jobs and what’ll be left will be work requiring creative thinking, since AI can’t do that. You’d think that by now we would’ve found a way to reduce the amount of work hours we do, so we could spend more time with our loved ones, doing fulfilling things, living our own lives to the fullest, instead of just occupying office space. People only work a few hours efficiently anyway, so holding us all there for 8h a day seems artificial and forced. Like there was a rule that you just cannot have more than 1-2 hours of free time a day. Like back in the day when they thought sitting in a speeding train would make a person lose their mind.

I’ve read articles on theories of how 8-hour work days make the general public so tired that they are easy to handle politically, and too exhausted to be creative, so everyone just pampers themselves with consumerism – buying things to reward themselves, keeping the economy going in more ways than one. (Another edit: I wonder how all this will change after corona, or will we just keep on spending aimlessly on products we don’t need, and working at our office cubicles, punching in and out each day.)

***

My draft had no ending – I guess that’s why I hadn’t posted it yet. I usually try to find a positive note to end on.

Ideas for endings:

Driverless – we are all finding our inner drivers now. No, that’s too corny.

Corona has made us see what is important again. Nah, too far-fetched.

I’m lucky I still have a job and I hope to continue working from home after all this is over. No, too random.

What would you use AI for, if you had the chance? Yes, that’s a better ending. I’m sure we could all come up with a few better suggestions than ad optimization on our social media feeds.

Take care!

55 responses to “Driverless

  1. A thoughtful post TSMS. I guess I don’t know enough about it to say what I’d use it for, but I know I wouldn’t be using it for targeting people for ads (no I don’t want my advertising personalized – I’m the anti-consumer!) and I wouldn’t use it for driverless vehicles of any kind – scares the shit out of me.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Definitely agree with you there. Wish AI would serve better and more conscious purposes, there are so many. Truly hope people will realize we don’t need more things in our lives but live them better.
    Wish you well. Xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love it. And I love the fact the story can have multiple endings. Speaking of AI, I have listened to a podcast from Hannah Fry from her experience over at DeepMind which I really recommend. Part of their use of AI I get – they want to use it to check out for tumours and who knows, maybe they can use it for Covid diagnosis too? – but for the most part I just don’t understand why they want to develop it… besides an intellectual drive.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Currently AI helps doctors diagnose patients who don’t have access to a hospital or clinic. It tracks endangered animals, making the job of catching poachers easier. It also finds victims of disaster so rescue workers know where to concentrate their efforts. But, as with any tool it can be used for corporate profit, for mind-numbing consumerism, and for access to private information on citizen behavior. The wonderful thing is (and scary too) that AI only has power we give to it. Hope this finds you safe and well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it’s true that it’s capable of assisting us in many areas. For example, AI predicted covid beforw the outbreak had really begun properly. But did anyone listen? No. When AI is used to improve banner performance, people seem way more impressed. (Anyway, I have a tendamcy to write in a dramatical way to drive my point through. Google and Facebook are have the biggest AI labs and who knows what they are planning.) Be well and stay safe 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I would use AI to analyze politicos’ past speeches and behaviour, fire those who get three confirmed lies to the people, and/or 3 stupid tweets. That should clean the air… ✌️🤣😷🙏🏻
    Are you OK? 8Do you still have your parents? If so are they locked up? Us old-timers are prime targets for this thing.
    A bientôt, “Neige”❄️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, that’s a good idea for AI use!!! 🤗🤗 Yes, we’ve been avoiding my mum so she wouldn’t catch anything from us and my grandma’s self-isolated. Next week the boys might have to go to daycare though because working from home is pretty impossible with them 🤪

      Liked by 1 person

      • Best for the older people to stay put for a while. What I don’t know is how “they” will manage the “exit”.
        I can imagine it would be hard to work from home with two boys…
        Patience, this will come to an end, hopefully without major disaster… (Not too sure about that. Many countries, like here, have bad hospital systems… Not to mention the economic aftermath…)
        One day at a time…

        Liked by 1 person

  6. You have set me off! I nearly wrote a response longer than your original post. I think everything is about money (which is also power and influence). If a way could be found to make money reversing climate change, then it would happen. If not, I don’t fancy our chances. Same with artificial intelligence. Marketing and targeted advertising pays.
    One sentence jumped out at me. ‘At the office, AI is supposed to replace humans doing mundane jobs and what’ll be left will be work requiring creative thinking, since AI can’t do that.’ I remember when computers were just getting going, they were going to do the mundane, repetitive jobs. People would work less, but earn more and so have disposable income to do fun things in their extra time off. Didn’t happen. Computers led people being expected to get more done, and those extra earnings ended up in the hands of the psychopaths running computer businesses. I think the same sort of scenario with happen with AI.
    But wait, those people will be the creative thinkers because AI can’t do that. Yet – but it’s getting there. Not that long ago, computers that filled entire air-conditioned rooms were less powerful than the smartphone in your pocket. I believe AI will make similar leaps of power and abilities.
    So is this the end of the world? No, it’s just different. I’m appalled at how intrusive businesses are, trying to track every move we make, but those growing up in this age don’t think twice about it. I believe things of value are being lost, but if you never knew those things, what’s the big deal? And I’m OK with that. As we say in Hawaii, it is what it is.
    Oh, and I love the pill cities. What a great visual.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hah, I had no idea that would push your buttons 😁 I wonder if AI could figure out a way to make fighting climate change financially profitable to attract leaders!? Your computer scenario sounds all too familiar and I’m pretty sure we are nowhere near being let to concentrate on creative work – nor working flexible hours with plenty of free time. I actually heard of this book https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/41963432-ghost-work which is about the mundane new jobs AI is creating to feed its intelligence…
      But… It is what it is. I like how relaxed that sounds. Mahalo.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I just get fed up with all these things ‘we’re doing for you!’ It’s not for us. It’s to make money. I guess I’m disappointed that, as a species, we haven’t progressed much. America first, Brexit, and the like. I mean, nationalism – that’s always turned out well in the past. Oh well, it is what it is. It’s the Hawaiian chill out motto, but it’s also quite Buddhist.
        I trust you and your family are well and surviving these crazy times.

        Liked by 1 person

          • There is an official lockdown order. We’re encouraged to stay home and required to maintain social distancing if we go out. We can go out for exercise. In the state order that includes swimming and surfing, but the Big Island mayor closed most shoreline access so it’s a bit confusing. I’ve been swimming a few times, but I’m not exactly comfortable doing so in the current climate.

            Liked by 1 person

  7. Like back in the day when they thought sitting in a speeding train would make a person lose their mind.
    What the….
    Did they really think that?
    As for AI – this is a really interesting topic which should get airtime. Where are we going with this? Is there a cohesive strategy about the ultimate goal, or an adhoc approach?
    I like the fact that creative jobs will be sort after, as my son might actuallly have a stable career after all.
    It starts to sound very conspiratorial that we are all overworked so that we are pliable politically. But then, this is not so far fetched and neither is it a new political idea. After all, that is why the Danish King created the Tivoli -to keep the hordes amused so that they didn’t mount a revolution. Are we being duped into complicity – the complicity of end stage capitalism, where money and power is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands? You have set me off on my political rant now Snow. My apologies….

    Liked by 1 person

    • The train bit – not sure. I heard something like that once but might not remember it quite right 😊 My blog posts always have a pinch of fiction or exaggeration to them, just for the sake of storytelling 😁
      As for an AI strategy, good point, and no idea if one exists. I doubt it!
      Complicity and capitalism, relying on our greed for more and more of all those pretty things we don’t need. Tivoli and the Roman circus remind me of the reality tv shows where people go to show off their skills to an enthralled audience and judges vote thumbs up or down. Thankfully, the ones voted out aren’t fed to lions, so at least something has changed since ancient Rome…

      Like

      • I like the speeding train = losing brain fictional fact – it is a bit like flat earth thinking!
        Social media platforms avoid any kind of regulation or implied duty of care that might apply to other forms of businesses because they say they are just the tool; just the platform; it is up to the user to regulate the product ! How irresponsible is this? So, to imagine that there is an organization/s with goid intentions developing an overall inclusive, ethical plan to manage AI and new technologies is probably fanciful. It appears completely adhoc. Make it up as you go along and then the community takes a consequences.
        I was having a discussion about reality TV on another of my posts that has been re- blogged by Sally Cronin and there are some really interesting comments there on reality TV. I think your comparison to the spectator blood sports in ancient Rome is a valid point. It is much the same in that viewers are vicariously getting their kicks from others’ fortune or misery. Yuk yuk!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. We do have driverless trains here in Singapore’s MRT. It’s not AI driven but rather it’s automated. IF you don’t notice the lack of a driver’s cabin in the front, you’d never guess that it runs on it’s own. Driverless cars, now that’s another matter altogether…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I remember when I was studying my Master Degree in Stockholm (Law and IT) that I had so many discussions with some of my lecturers about how AI would change the legal sector… They defended the idea of AI judges, automatised legal proceses and so on… I though it wasn’t posible. I still think so! You can’t use AI for jobs or tasks that require interpretation (an interpretation of a law or rule that changes in time depending on the social context) and creativity…
    Hope you and your family are all well!!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Not sure I’d want to see that future with AI judges and lawyers… hehehe.
        Things in Switzerland are a bit calmer now. The confinement has been extended an additional week until the end of April… But numbers of cases haven’t escalated as much as the predictions the government had and Swiss are behaving more or less well, so at least there won’t be more strict measures for the time being… And as we can go out for short strolls, being at home hasn’t been too hard so far… (it’s been 36 days and too much baking already… hehehe).
        How are things in Finland? I’ve read your neighbor Sweden is already struggling with the increase of cases and deads… Hope you’re coping better! And I hope you and the boys (and the rest of the family, of course) are well and healthy!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah it sounds a bit like our situation. The curve has been flattened and the peak will occur during summer, apparently. I’m taking the boys back to daycare next week after a month at home, but many people didn’t even try to keep their kids home, just wanted to concentrate on work and took the easy way out. I’m bracing for corona – usually we get all sorts of diseases from daycare so let’s see what happens. Everyone’s been going out as usual the whole time, so it isn’t really isolation over here either. Stay well, Mercedes! 🌻

          Like

  10. On robotic drivers:

    Semi-trucks or Tractor-Trailers are now being piloted by AI.
    Many folks jump up and down shouting “Oh no! What if something goes wrong with the computer?”
    Things “go wrong” with humans to the tune of 20,000 accidents a day.
    We’re riding in the cab watching the robot truck drive on a syndicated news show. A driver passes on the right and dives in ahead of the truck.
    “Oh! That car cut you off!” the newsman says, “Did you need to override the auto pilot?”
    “No.” Comes the confident reply.
    The robot is slowing down to accommodate the driver that’s not following safety rules. Robot waits until there is a safe distance from the vehicle ahead, and resumes its program.
    “That’s why the robot is better.” I say to my wife. “When cut off, the robot slowed down to improve safety and reduce risk. If that had been a human driver, he would have blasted his horn. He likely would not have slowed, but would have ‘ridden the bumper’ of the guy that crowded him. He would have flicked the turn signal on in a fit of hurry and wheeled into the left lane in such a rush he didn’t see the sedan that was already there. The sedan swerves and blows his horn and the truck dives back into the center lane, swearing and stepping on the gas.”
    (The robot is programmed to do none of those things.)

    Okay, so I spend a lot of time on the road…

    Paz

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, that’s a very good point. Unfortunately I too have witnessed this type of everyday road rage – I hesitate to say it but I feel it’s very macho and mostly done by men. (No offence!) Anyway, this reminded me that our car actually has a feature where it automatically slows down if we get too close to the car ahead or too close to the center line – so maybe we are already partially on auto-drive and I just didn’t realise it! 🙂 Thanks for your comment! Take care – on the road and otherwise

      Liked by 1 person

  11. In Malaysia, we have the driverless LRT for some time now but its at Kuala Lumpur, not Borneo. Actually by 2020, I would have imagine we have invisible-air-road kind of thing where rails are in the air too. Just like in Back to the Future movie, hehe. But we are not there yet. We can’t even manage our climate change to a level deemed acceptable. AI would be a good tool if only there are many green-leaders in the world to use it to create sustainable practices. By the way, love that pill cities!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. That’s some amazing artwork. I would have never guessed. I wish AI would truly create less work for us, but I’m guessing we’d just find more to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, let’s hope so! I also hope covid will bring more flexibility to office work once employers realise that working from home isn’t a bad thing. For me, it would be super motivating if I could continue working feom home after this! Take care! 😘

      Liked by 1 person

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