Staying current

By Jay Hiller, March 31, 2023

Photo by Ingo Schulz on Unsplash

When I was a little girl, my dad went to Viet Nam. Occasionally he would send tape recorded letters that my mom would play on a reel to reel tape recorder that plugged into the wall. Listening to them was a big deal. I know that I remember the smell of the tapes, because last night on the Dick Van Dyke show someone pulled out a tape recorder like that and I remembered how the tape smelled. Old TV shows are works of reverse science fiction because they remind you of technologies that were once cutting edge.

Why did the use of a new technology disappoint me?

I recently asked someone to provide a written answer to a question and I wanted to know their true thoughts. When it came back, I suspected that it had been written by AI but I wasn’t really sure so I treated it as if it had been written by the person. Yesterday, I copy-pasted the answer into a website that could tell you whether AI had written it and it had been entirely written by AI. I’m balancing the concept that robot-written material is just a tool with disappointment that the person had not written it themself. I think the question needs to be rewritten to elicit human generated information that a robot can’t provide and that’s going to be work for me. Why is it less satisfying to watch a player piano generate music than it is to see somebody play the piano?

Maybe the answer is that we all need to get better at using the technology and part of that is that the person who answered the question could have used the AI to generate a scaffold for his own ideas. One thing I feel strongly about is that it’s a mistake to treat new technologies as that you’ll never learn, because they’re wrong in some way. If I want to continue to do meaningful work, I have to stay current.

How can you tell this wasn’t written by AI?

I’m so far off topic. What could be more human than that?

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