Real Thoughts On Artificial Intelligence

Font Size:

If it’s true what they say, that it’s just a matter of time before the machines take over, then we humans have some strategic thinking to do. We need to identify the places where the enemy has made the most significant ground gains, dig our trenches and begin the resistance. But where to begin?

There is much talk of a dystopian future filled with driverless cars, lawyerless courtrooms and doctorless hospitals. All legitimate fields of battle. But those campaigns will take years and cost thousands of lives. What we need to do now is study the great minds of asymmetric warfare. Michael Collins on how he thwarted the British. Mao Zedong’s tactics over Chiang Kai-Shek. Lyle Lovett in briefly landing Julia Roberts.

I know what you’re thinking – I put down Ziggy to read this guy? But here’s the truth. I’m not some tin foil hat type telling you to watch what you say around your electric toothbrush. (Low risk – they are notoriously bad listeners.) I am saying this because we need the morale surge that only sweet, sweet victory can bring. So where shall we humans begin our guerilla campaign? While the great military strategist Sun Tzu said when uncertain, delay and extend, we don’t have that luxury anymore. You know something? My bad. It wasn’t Sun Tzu who said that. It was Bert Tzu, my accountant. Either way, the point is the hour is late.

Toward that end, last weekend I gathered three of the greatest modern counterinsurgency minds for a skull session in my basement. That they happened to be my golf foursome surprised me as much as anybody. While we were unsuccessful in drawing up a plan of attack, I did learn that Mark hums Asia’s “Heat of the Moment” whenever he is bluffing, and Jason’s buffalo wing intake probably moved the commodities markets. So it seems the burden of leading the counterinsurgency falls squarely on my shoulders. And make no mistake: once we rage against the machine, there will be no turning back.

I’m thinking we start with dishwashers. I say that because more than any other appliance, uppity now seems to come standard on them. Am I bitter because some slick Harold Hill type snookered me into paying a king’s ransom for a dishwasher that works no better than my old one, but with a lot more attitude? No doubt. I won’t name the brand, but I shouldn’t have to. If you lined up ten dishwashers, this would be the one with sunglasses more expensive than two months’ rent, talking about how great the snow was last winter in Gstaad.

Unbeknownst to me, my dishwasher has something called a self-running setting. Not self-loading, mind you, which would awesome, but self-running. This seems like a glitch they couldn’t fix, but rather than disclose and watch the stock price drop like a sack of hammers, management stacked hands and sold it as a desirable feature. I have no idea what triggered this setting on my dishwasher, for I never programmed it. If Stephen Hawking ever stops by, I’ll be sure to ask him how to turn it off. Until then my dishwasher runs when it wants, even if the top shelf contains nothing but a solitary Mayor McCheese drinking glass. Worse yet, it runs quieter than the Red October, so I don’t even know for certain when it’s on. That is, until I get the water bill, which is thick enough to choke a goat.

I’ll tell you one time my dishwasher is not silent: when it’s finished. Then it chirps with the cloying persistence of a National Merit Semi-Finalist. And we’re not talking about the polite beep that your courtly dryer emits when its work is done. Think Glenn Close in Fatal AttractionI’m not going to be ignored. So what if you didn’t load it? I’m finished, come praise me. Or that you’re propped up in bed on the front end of a Memorial Day Weekend “Band of Brothers” marathon, with twelve Nutter Butters stacked on your bare chest? I’m finished, come praise me. Trust me, you won’t know peace until you answer the harpy in the kitchen, so just get up and get it over with.

I can’t promise there won’t be dark days ahead of us once the battle commences. The machines surely have their own PSYOP capabilities, and they won’t hesitate to use them. For instance, your thermostat will infer from being turned up to 82 degrees that your parents are visiting. It will communicate this fact to your cable box, and this will be the day that adult content titles start appearing among Recently Viewed. But fight the machines we must. And it starts with the dishwashers.