Br-r-r! Cold wintry air!

We’re nearing the end of the effect of the northern snow storm, reportedly for the locals here a 4-year record. The ambient temperature (68°F) is rising by the hour and the grey clouds are dispersing. By tomorrow it should be 72°F. In an effort to regain my toppled stability, I donned my black bathing suit, mounted my tricycle and went for a swim in the central pool. There was no one else there. The water was cool but far from frigid. The refreshment soothed my aching limbs, arthritic ribs and lower spine. I plunged and swam back and forth from one end of the pool to the other, extending my body from the middle, left and right, up and down.  I suspect the few people who occasionally ventured into the pool area to attend one of the nearby condominium management offices viewed my wintry, watery enterprise quizzically.

Last evening the estate agent sent a tradesman to investigate our malfunctioning heating system.  After two separate diagnoses, the second tradesman attributed the problem to a faulty breaker.  While he hadn’t the precise breaker to replace the current one, his alternating of the device from on to off then on again appeared momentarily to remedy the defect.  We had plenty of heat last night.  Presently we are expecting him to reappear with a replacement part.

A more compelling matter arose a moment ago when I casually read the latest CNN news. No, the arousal was not Donald Trump or Putin and the Ukraine or all the cancelled holiday flights. Instead it was the burgeoning distress of one of the correspondents about Artificial Intelligence (AI) overtaking careers (including his own as a writer) as it already has done for customer service, insurance underwriting and manufacturing.

Yet my writing career could still go the way of the grocery checkout jobs eliminated by automation. Al tools will keep getting smarter, and distinguishing an AI-written op-ed from a “real” human op-ed will get harder over time just as AI-generated college papers will become harder to distinguish from those written by actual students.

Peter Bergen
CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at New America and a professor of practice at Arizona State University

It hardly seems an inductive leap to acknowledge that the composition of scientific or empirical writing in particular is readily adaptable to Artificial Intelligence.  To my thinking it is just another algorithm; that is, a condensation (or fusion) of two or more ascertainable ideas or facts. This may indeed pose a threat to the legitimacy of our spoon-fed regurgitating educational system but I doubt that it spells the end of insightful thinking any more than the facility to compose on a typewriter or computer somehow poisoned the intellectual process in doing so.

I have nonetheless frequently posited that computers might readily replace lawyers (at least those of the lower denominations answering the often standard requirements addressed by sole practitioners such as residential deeds, standard last will and testament, co-ownership, partnership and pre-nuptial/marriage contracts and agreements). In fact following the introduction of computers to my own former law office, the evolution of documentation very much assimilated the same standard process of check-lists and completion in a highly routine manner. Yet once again, the theoretical processes of the computer and even the highly developed electronic land titles system and its related title insurance never fully synthesized all possible parameters (the frequency of which was not merely signified by its totality but rather by its ingenuity and perspicacity which remained a decidedly human and personal correlative). In short I do not see technology as the end to human involvement; rather, it facilitates a higher standard of human involvement. Nor is this observation limited to those endeavours which we traditionally classify as more intellectual than laborious. That would be like saying farming ended with machinery.  Certainly the mechanization of farming has dwindled involvement in basics; but I remain convinced that specialization with the oversight of humans can afford an untapped source of both product and employment.  For example the investigation of unfamiliar foods such as insects may afford a huge new capital that would in fact benefit from AI. We’ve long ago graduated from mere potatoes.

Anyway this only betrays my unending confidence in the capacity of humanity to improve without compromising engineering. As I have lately discovered through my acquaintance with a New York artist, even the art world is undergoing enormous expansion as a result of technology.  No longer is art simply paintbrush to canvass (though that fundamental medium preserves its undoubted attraction, including my own).