Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 7/30/18
My computer diagnostic, which I receive monthly for the Corvette, warned me sternly that all four tires needed air. Since you want to add and test air with cold, not hot, tires, I begrudgingly went to the nearest station a half-mile away. I had been going there for 30 years and Mark was the manager/attendant, but he was no longer needed when they turned it into an automated station and minimart.
It took me a minute to adjust to the air machine’s involute instructions: 75 cents for four minutes of air, dial your desired pressure, press the hose on the valves, and the machine will beep when you hit your goal. And that’s what happened, within my four minutes, for all tires. (Did an algorithm or calculus determine a minute a tire was appropriate?) Then I filled up with gas, following the screen instructions, and using my credit card, reinserting it several times before the machine was happy with the speed of my removal motion. (I found out, to my shock, that the Vette has no gas cap, and the cover automatically seals the tank. Not normally pumping gas, I assumed for a moment that the cap was lost.)
All of that was very efficient, and very lonely, and very boring. I miss chatting with Mark about sports, the weather, the latest restaurant opening or closing on Main Street. He used to ask me about my cars and point out things I didn’t know. (He would have known about the gas cap.) Once he brought the Aston Martin cap over to me and said, “This is a single piece of machined metal, you never see this on other cars.”
I stopped in the minimart and asked the woman on duty if she knew what happened to Mark. “Oh, he retired,” she told me. “He said he wasn’t interested in managing a grocery store.”
If AI really represented “intelligence,” it would be able to talk to me about the Patriots’ prospects this season and not just beep when its job was done.
In the long term, artificial intelligence and automation are going to be taking over so much of what gives humans a feeling of purpose.
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