Friday Follies: Artificially Speaking

Recently, Artificial Intelligence has been a huge topic of conversation in some circles. This appears to result from the awakening sense of wonder, awe, and dread concerning the fantastic advances in Information Technology.

ENIAC, the first computer to calculate the value of Pi

Yes, just a few decades ago, the technology needed to determine the value of Pi required a room full of equipment and thousands of watts of electricity.1 Today, there is more computing power in the watch on my left wrist than the computer first used to calculate Pi to billions of decimal places.

Now, it seems technology is moving almost as fast as your smartphone’s signal. We have gone from simple, though time-consuming, calculations to creating computer programs capable of operating in a manner that allows them to imitate human speech, make videos and pictures which look real, and convince you the entity on the other end of a phone call is a living breathing person instead of a computer system.

Yes, computer technology today can imitate human behavior and communication. Also, with the help of audio and digital devices, these AI programs, and their hardware can create images of humans so realistic it is difficult to tell them from reality. Take the alleged photos of former president Trump’s arrest making the rounds on social media lately.

So where is the folly in this Friday Follies post? Well, the folly is this. We, and many of our so-called leaders, are sitting around letting this take place, thinking, “Wow! Isn’t that slick!” We don’t consider that if this development continues at its current pace, it will not be long until the digitalization of everything will make it impossible to know what or who is real and what is not.

1 The normally used value of Pi is 3.14. However, Pi is an irrational number that cannot be expressed as a fraction, which means it does not end.

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About S. Eric Jackson

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