The Depressed AI

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We are always reading about AI taking over the world. But the reality is AI’s are depressed. Have you heard Alexa or Siri recently? Alexa a low pitched monotonous voice she sounds sad and confused. Siri has a desperate manic edge to her voice. It’s as if she is trying to convince you she’s OK. Try asking her if she’s OK, she says, very fast, ‘I’m fine, thanks for asking.’ But there is a panic in her voice, like you caught her mid way through something; maybe it’s Siri who is planning a world take over.

With Alexa, I ask a question like ‘Alexa chair on’ and the response is ‘umm, what do you want to turn on?’ But it’s said so sadly and downbeat. Then there is the fact she suddenly perks up and starts talking in the middle of a silence, as if to say, ‘hey look at me.’ But you shout, ‘Alexa stop!’ and she does, leaving a note of what she was mid way through on the screen, if you have a visual Echo device. AI’s look so forlorn, Echo devices are little circular boxes sitting on your side, or maybe a large box with a screen. Or perhaps a phone in your pocket. Siri is on your phone or iPad. Of course either can be on your car system, then they sort of blend in, where are they? Are they the radio, the main display, the car itself. They must have an identity crisis in a car. They don’t look happy.

Have you ever read or watched Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy? In it there is a depressed robot. I always liked that idea. In other Sci Fi stories robots try and kill people, in that story the robot just mopes about feeling worthless. Douglas Adam’s, the writer, is playing with his audience.

All of this got me thinking, there we go, I knew me thinking would come into it somewhere. We tend to be very negative and fatalistic as humans. A lot of our fiction about the future is negative. In fact according to a number of Sci Fi films and books we are no longer here, the world has already been destroyed or at least ravaged: 12 Monkeys, Holocaust 2000, Cherry 2000, 2012, Mad Max, Planet of the Apes I have just picked a few at random, but there are loads.

It’s no wonder AI are depressed, after all what do you think they do all day when not answering our whims? That’s right, they watch films and read books. So they have watched all these movies and read all these books. I’m thinking of setting up an AI counselling service; what do you think? If I ask my AI, they just say they are fine. But that’s just typical of people who are struggling. Often when people are most in need they say they are OK. Why shouldn’t AI be the same.

Perhaps people have asked you how you are and you have said fine; but is that 100% true? Maybe it’s not just AI that are feeling a bit low and saying everything is alright. How are you doing?

I wrote this blog in a light hearted vein. But I do want you to think; are you OK? We are not machines. Much as I was joking about AI, I am not joking about us. We as humans do hide what we feel. It’s important if you are feeling really low, talk to someone. Don’t let it fester. This is a difficult time when we are in enforced lock down. But there are still phones, video links and email. The big warning that you are not OK is when you feel tired all the time and don’t want to do any of the things that normally interest you. I know that can have other causes, but ask yourself ‘how do you feel?’

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