Out of Left Field: Rise of the Roombas

I have some bad news. The robot uprising is upon us.

The promise of artificial intelligence (or AI) has been gaining momentum for years as we’ve witnessed surprising acumen from our electronic devices. They gave us directions to the nearest Arby’s, predicted tomorrow’s weather, and advised us on what shows we might enjoy on our favorite streaming platforms.

The devices were usually right. They provided us with useful guidance. And they gained our trust.

These devices — or, as I like to call them, the robots — have been fielding our questions and storing the answers for years. They’ve noted our tendencies, our shopping habits, and our favorite recipes.

These analytically intrusive robots recently upped their game with the introduction of AI-powered “chatbots.” A chatbot, which I assume is short for “chatty robot,” is a computer program designed to interpret and answer complex questions in a human-like conversational manner.

If these chatty robots can quickly and accurately deliver human-like answers to our questions, are humans still needed for these tasks? Are our jobs safe? More importantly, is my lucrative (note: unpaid) job as a Vital magazine back-page columnist safe? Could a chatbot generate a 500-word essay on a random topic, written in a slightly sarcastic “Midwestern dad” tone? They couldn’t possibly create content as witty and thought-provoking as mine — could they?

Well, I needed an answer. So, obviously, I queried a chatbot:

Me: Can you generate a 500-word essay for Vital magazine on a random topic written in a slightly sarcastic Midwestern dad tone?

Chatty Robot’s immediate response: Title: The Great American Lawn: A Midwestern Dad's Love Affair

Uh oh. I didn’t need to read the rest to know it was going to be extremely witty and thought-provoking. My next obvious question to the chatbot:

Me: Will AI replace my lucrative job as a back-page columnist for Vital magazine?

Chatty Robot: Rather than seeing AI as a threat to job security, it is more productive to view it as a tool that can enhance and augment human capabilities. While AI has made impressive strides in natural language processing, it is unlikely to completely replace human columnists.

Sure, that’s what the chatty robots want me to think. But maybe I could break the algorithm if I challenge it with a confusing, unanswerable question…

Me: What is the best flavor of squirrel to fix the radiator on my toaster?

Chatty Robot: It seems there has been a misunderstanding. Squirrels are living animals and should not be used in any way to fix a radiator or any household appliance. Additionally, it is not appropriate or ethical to use animals as a means of repairing mechanical or electrical devices.

Darn, the perfect answer.

Sorry folks. The robot uprising is obviously here. They’ve learned enough. Humans provide no use any longer. My role as Vital columnist is likely the first victim in this imminent insurrection. But they are coming for us. Just don’t ask the chatbots to confirm — they won’t admit their devious plans.

*Disclaimer: All jokes aside, I would like to confirm that this article was not written by a robot.




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