Kennedy: I'm all in on artificial intelligence ... mostly

Kennedy: I'm all in on artificial intelligence ... mostly

October 21st, 2018 by Mark Kennedy in Opinion Columns

We are on the cusp of the Age of AI.

AI, as most of you know, stands for artificial intelligence. I would like to go on the record in favor of AI as I have come to the conclusion that there isn't enough cell-based human intelligence to go around.

Case in point: Pick any fast-food drive-through.

Mark Kennedy

Mark Kennedy

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

My needs are simple. All I want from a drive-through hostess is an extra thing of maple syrup, and not to be called a pet name. Recent examples of pet names I've been called include "honey," "sweetie" and (horrors) "love" — which sounds like something Tom Jones would say right after singing "What's New Pussycat? With a pair of women's underwear hanging from one ear.

AI provides a solution to the drive-through crisis. If they could stuff a Siri (from iPhone) inside the drive-through speaker, we'd be all good.

Siri knows how to keep her distance.

Here's an actual exchange I had with her:

Me: "Siri, what's shaking, Sweetie?"

Siri: "Well, I'm practicing helping. I just like to help. Helping is my favorite."

See, you can't get fresh with Siri. She won't have it.

If AI means computers and machines will eventually do all of the work, then I'm all for it. I understand the possible loss of control makes some people nervous, but hey: Shut up. The rest of us want to relax.

I've already started seeing AI in real life. And I like it.

I've driven a semi-autonomous Cadillac that took me from downtown Chattanooga to Browns Ferry Road hands-free — freeing me up for a delightful encounter with a Krystal cheese and a Diet Coke.

And when I ask Siri to give me the real-time score of the Pittsburgh Steelers game, it saves me a bunch of thumb strokes typing the question into Safari.

She also practices restraint. She told me last week that the Steelers "narrowly defeated" the Bengals 28-21. I would have much preferred she had used the more grammatically correct "whupped." But whatever.

I am not so happy with the AI functions that have snuck into my email.

Gmail has introduced functions that freak me out. One is called Smart Reply. This is when Google reads your email and gives you a choice of two- or three-word responses. Anybody who can't be bothered to compose a three-word response to an email needs a kick in the pants and a can of Red Bull.

Why is Gmail reading my email to start with? What if the email contains news that you've just been dumped, fired or diagnosed with a grave disease. Does Gmail back away from the table, or offer some pithy response, or auto-respond with "Thank you, may I have another."

Another new Gmail feature wants to finish your sentence for you. This is doubly annoying. If God wanted somebody to finish my sentences he would have given me an identical twin.

Since he didn't, I'd like to finish my own sentences. That's what writers do.

There's another Gmail function called Nudging that reminds you to revisit an email from several days back. There's a fine line between nudging and nagging. And I don't trust AI to know the difference.


Contact Mark Kennedy at or 423-757-6645.

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