Hey, I don't know what's AI?

Published: Jun 23, 2019, 05:35 IST | Rahul da Cunha

And, I would argue that we need to occasionally stop and think whether we are just bringing in generation after generation of 'mental machines'

Hey, I don't know what's AI?
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Rahul da CunhaSee boss, don't get me wrong. I appreciate the Internet world, okay, so we now have information at our fingertips that we never had as easily available before. So, today's kids will never quite know what it's like to enter the hallowed space called a library, where a big SILENCE sign greeted you as you walked in, and you pored over huge tomes, wanting to understand Hitler's impact on WWII, and now a Kindle or Wikipedia not only give you information on the Nazis but also the latest dope on the Kardashians and Kanye West.

And, I don't want to sound old-fashioned, but I do agree that we have an ocean of stuff that would have been impossible to access a decade ago: but have we stopped reading? And is there information overload? And kids are on their cells all day, their faces buried in a blue screen never looking up at the blue sky. And, I would argue that we need to occasionally stop and think whether we are just bringing in generation after generation of 'mental machines'. And just when one has wrapped one's head around that, just when I've gotten the hang of Twitter and Snapchat and Instagram and live streaming and SoundCloud and what not, I'm suddenly being warned of a new phenomena. It's called AI or Artificial Intelligence, and when I ask what that is, I'm told that machines will soon replace man. Machines replacing man, means? At least when I make a call, and a voice at the other end tells me, "Aap kataar mein hai," "You are in queue, please wait", I know it's a recording and I can't answer back and yell, "I know I'm in queue and waiting, so don't tell me I am, because I know." But apparently, now AI means that no more will I be able to talk to a person from across a counter or teller, ask them a simple question like, "Where is my cheque book?", or "What is the real estate future in Nalasopara?" That's the one thing that truly blows my mind because I'm not sure I want to engage in conversation with a machine like a R2D2-type thingy instead of a cashier. To walk into a bank or an airport or a department store and be faced with robot-like machines, where I have to follow instructions. Meaning, I have to check myself in at the airport, and put the stickers on my own luggage, maybe soon there will be a robot flying the plane.

And if something goes wrong, like I was in a hotel where a robot was making the eggs at breakfast, and some command went wrong, and so people were getting scrambled eggs instead of fried eggs and vice versa.

Okay, okay, maybe I'm panicking.

But, I have finally figured what AI stands for: Absolute Insanity.

Rahul daCunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62@gmail.com

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