There is a new kid in town who is competing for control of many aspects of human existence. So that we can give him/her a personal touch, I will call him/her CALI (Computer Aided Life Intelligence). Ever since man bit into the proverbial apple, he has been in the control seat. He decided when he wanted to go to war, how much he wanted to pollute the environment, how crazy he wanted to drive, at what temperature his refrigerator should be, how much soda he wanted in his cup, and countless other day-to-day decisions. Well, I am here to tell you we are on the verge of a new age when man will, very subtly at first, and completely so, in the distant future, be governed by CALI. You may know CALI by another name: the computer, the internet, the cloud or maybe even the boss. This heartless, soulless entity is creeping into every aspect of our lives. With the use of special glasses, CALI has even entered the sacred bedroom with interactive video capabilities that might push our current notions of sex to the back burner. Our cars will, in the not too distant future, be driven by CALI, and we will just be passengers along for the ride. I wrote about this a year ago. I believe that CALI could save hundreds of thousands of lives every year so that auto accidents would be an historic footnote soon to be forgotten. Of course, nothing is perfect, and occasionally someone would have a car accident and maybe even die, but that would be rare. When someone does die in a car wreck, it would be front-page news, and everyone would talk about the horrific consequences of a computer mistake with little regard to the fact that before CALI, millions of people were maimed or killed in auto accidents.
I love my computer and my smart-phone has become an indispensable part of my lifestyle, but I feel increasingly uncomfortable with the current and potential direction these technological marvels will take us. When I walk down a street I watch a majority of folks’ total attention glued to their phone, oblivious to the happenings of the world around them. I remember the old days when folks would observe happily the world in all its complexity and beauty. It almost seems as if the on-line community, which is nothing more than an extension of CALI, is doing anything it can do to suck up every valuable spare moment of free time we have. There is little time for many people to think or dream if they are constantly bombarded with text messages, You Tube videos and video games.
Computers have become an integral part of human communication. It all began when people were able to talk on the telephone, then morphed into the sending of emails and then was followed by texting. Now, we have numerous versions of digital communication including Facebook, twitter and many others. It has become hip to not talk to your fellow-man in person but to send a message through some type of digital interface. Face-to-face verbal communication is an important part of human behavior so that it is hard to picture the world without it, but I believe that is where we are going. One example of newer technology is the refinement of computer speech recognition. Lately I have received phone calls from what is referred to as ROBOCALLS that are computers mimicking human conversation quite well. Sometimes it takes a few moments to determine that it is a computer talking to you rather than a human voice. You can have some fun by saying random things to the computer and confusing it; usually this leads to the termination of the call. Another area that is evolving rapidly is the use of artificial intelligence in warfare. For me, this is by far the scariest scenario I have run accross. Imagine computers making decisions about what to attack or blow up.
So couple all these ideas with our increasing dependence on computers and the advent of artificial intelligence, and we earthlings are quite possibly on the verge of a brave new world. This makes one wonder just where our world is headed. There are numerous sci-fi renditions of the outcome of these new technologies. The truth is, no one has any idea where we are going, or if it is a good or bad direction. We can only imagine what the future holds for us, and anyone who says differently is only guessing.