AiLONE | No Mercy / No Malice

The chatter about AI has focused on how it will change (first) organization, the world of work, and/or annihilate us. But the most valuable tech companies to date, with the exception of Microsoft, have been consumer-facing. And it’s likely the major AI disruptors will (again) be consumer offerings. One big change: The butlers, maids, and valets of the rich will be introduced to the broader world. Instead of servants downstairs, we’ll have servers.

Except the servers will be housed in some nondescript tilt-up building next to an inexpensive source of energy to keep it cool, where they’ll sweat plowing the fields of my indulgent life, where I’ve created a series of mazes I need others to help me navigate. Note: I’m especially proud of the previous sentence. Generative AI and smartphones and smart speakers promise the power of personal and professional assistants to everyone with an iPhone. That’s good news … mostly. Technology democratizes access (good thing), but also sequesters us from one another. The tech elite are opting out voluntarily with a nihilistic vision of go bags and bunkers.

The backstory is that the performance of digital assistants might be finally catching up to the decades of promise. Emphasis on “might.” MIT had a chatbot called Eliza in 1966, and the progress since has been steady, if not remarkable. Sixty years later we started to lose interest — the number of Americans who use voice-activated assistants declined. That’s about to change.
— Read on


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