You’ve seen Terminator. War Games. 2001. iRobot. Westworld. It’s all over the news. AI is coming and you should be frightened. I know I am. Not of super learning machines that will take over the world and destroy humankind with plasma energy waves that will destroy all organic matter. No, I’m frightened that I may go postal one day after dealing with aggravating user interfaces.
Take YouTube. I’ve been watching too much of it lately and I’ve noticed you need to be very careful about what you watch. This morning a recommended video popped up about how a tankless water heater works. Thinking that might be interesting I clicked on it. About a minute in (my average attention span) I decided life was too short to keep learning about water heaters. Go back and refresh my YouTube home page and… Boom! Approximately 37 recommended channels of home building, plumbing, and do it yourself videos. Thank god I didn’t click on the figure skating video.
Seriously, we’re not smart enough yet to do some sort of statistical averaging in our recommendation engines yet? Same with most ad engines these days. One innocent search for the latest innovations in chia pets and you’ll get some seriously odd ads served up for the next month.
And don’t get me started on the Facebook’s drunken monkey top post/most recent sort methodology. Silly me thinking most recent meant everything in chronological order. Or the Outlook mobile app deciding that I no longer need to see a month at a time on my calendar. Three days should be enough for any man. Or WordPress and/or Facebook randomly deciding what picture to display on a post. I’ll have three or four images in a post and Facebook seemingly randomly decides which one to pick to display.
No, I’m not worried that AI will destroy mankind. I’m worried that society will suddenly abandon badly crafted software, causing massive portions of the tech world to collapse. The economy will implode and hoards of unemployed tech workers will wander the streets with no discernable life skills. The craft coffee industry will die, the Tesla market will dry up, and millions of hipster skinny jeans will end up in the landfill.
Ok, that may be a bit pessimistic. Maybe Netflix will finally figure out how recommend movies based on something other than genre. Maybe Google maps will figure out how to make their walking directions useful. I’m pretty sure giant media organizations and massive corporations won’t be influencing the content we consume any time soon. It’s not like we’re going to have automated bots infiltrating social media. Oh, wait…