At the End of the Day

JW2020 Do you want to be told “No” by a robot, or engage with an ambassador for your supplier?

The Slog rips up the case for Artificial Intelligence.


Were we to call AI (artificial intelligence) Prosthetic Intelligence, the thinking person’s takeaway of the term would change dramatically. We would see it as a very poor second to having the original version – as in, for example, a leg.

Very few of us have the bull-headed determination of Douglas Bader. At a far lower level of disability, as a man forced by the criminality of Great Western Railways to become the embarrassed owner of  prosthetic teeth in the lower jaw, I can indeed confirm that the pudding munchers I grew as a kid put in an infinitely better performance when it came to the crunching of Brasil nuts, carrots and corn on the cob than the false teeth I possess now.

Yet we have come to a point where the artificial becomes a craven idol before which we must prostrate ourselves.

The pyramid orchids, roses and nigella are in bloom at the moment. I could save myself a lot of trouble by simply buying artificial versions fashioned in a Chinese sweat shop. If I did that, my friends would rightly think I had plumbed new depths of Abigail’s Party taste – or even dementia.

I cannot be alone in finding my interfaces on line with faceless (and brainless) AI rather hard to undertake without wishing to do an impression of  Pete Townshend in his guitar-destruction period. I went online to Proxigaz today and used the customer reference I’ve had for the last five years. Computer said no. So I went into Live Chat. This is a bit like talking to an astronaut en route to Saturn, in that your message goes into hyperspace and is followed by the sound of one hand clapping. After five minutes, one types ‘Are you still there?’, and the robot says ‘Dossier interface underway’.

Eventually, back came ‘Your customer number unknown’, to which I replied, ‘So how have you been making deliveries to me since 2001 you fucking moron?’. Android typed, ‘Reply error 236’.

Opening another Window, I used Google to find a telephone number with which to request delivery of gas to my underground tank here. I rang it. A human person answered. We had a long chat about what a montagne de merde AI is, how I should switch to monthly payments, how she could do it right now, and how urgent the delivery was.

“Will there be anything else today, Monsieur Ward?” Stephanie asked. “Yes,” I replied, “Will you marry me?”. She giggled in that unaffected way only French women can manage.

Let me give you four pennorth of my thang with Artifical Intelligence: it is an idea hatched by inhuman number-crunchers who prefer higher shareholder dividends and share prices to a society at ease with itself.

It throws perfectly qualified, human emotional intelligence on the scrapheap, benefits and notice that they are no longer required. It destroys a person’s sense of self and interpersonal skills in favour of insensitively programmed metallic obfuscation whose sole ability is to be irritatingly confused…..and infuriatingly unable to say “Yes”.

I could not give a flying whatnot about the potty idea that ditching AI will destroy the global economy. If the Dow can close (as it has today at 23,653) in the face of what Wall Street wants us to believe is The Black Death, then the whole thing is surely revealed as a Stage Set that will be flattened by the next light breeze.

Capital must take less and give more to salaried society.

That doesn’t mean signing up to the ideological unreality of Leftlib catechismic bigotry. On the contrary, it’s about putting the reality of social anthropology into practice in the State’s dealings with Homo sapiens.

But the Gates, Faucis, Pompeos, Sedwills, Clintons and Verhofstadts can’t compute that.

Technology is forever on the verge of putting science to the sword. Eclectic scientists with the wisdom of experience know that it is a razor-blade that will one day cut their throats.

We need to seek out more people with that awareness, and put them into the key positions of cultural responsibility.

But where are they? And would they want the job?