Artificial intelligence no match for human intelligence

Machines are stripping away humanity in much the same way social media and texting have stripped away our personal communication skills. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against technology. I just believe that it should be used as a tool we control instead of it dictating our lives.

Used to be life was simple but hard. Now it’s complicated and easy. Used to be we lived in a real world where real people worked out real problems. Now we live in an empty, artificial programmable world where nothing is real nor honest anymore.

Let’s face it: We’re dumbed down and turned lazy by technology that supposedly makes life easier for us. It controls our homes, runs our cars, monitors our health. Our problems have been turned over to machine to fix. We have apps that perform every conceivable function for us, virtual assistants—Siri and Alexa—that give us advice.

Now with the advances in artificial intelligence, science fiction has become real life.

Artificial intelligence is defined as the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. In other words, it’s intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals.

Yes, we’re turning the world over to machines, and we’re turning jobs over to them, too. But not all jobs.

A recent TopTenz post identifies 10 jobs artificial intelligence can’t take away from humans. They are:

  • Authors
  • Fashion designers and tailors
  • Psychologists
  • Doctors
  • Musicians
  • Police officers
  • Judges
  • Art teachers
  • Pro athletes
  • Clergy

The jobs listed here have a few common traits that indeed separate humans from machines. They are:

  • Creativity—the ability to use our human imagination to develop new and original ideas or things.
  • Empathy—the ability to identify with and understand another person’s feelings.
  • Sympathy—the ability to share another person’s feelings.
  • Judgment—the ability to determine right from wrong.
  • Passion—the ability to show emotions.

We must remember that artificial intelligence is not natural. It’s contrived, simulated, and will never replace human intelligence, no matter how cool it might seem.

We must remember the great things humans have created and remember today’s machines were created by humans.

We must remember that we are humans and machines are tools. We must remember that we control our lives, and we must regain control of our lives or we risk creating a world gone astray.

Photo by Andy Kelly on Unsplash

Hypocrisy and the World of Contradictions

“Do what you will, this world’s a fiction and is made up of contradiction.” – William Blake

In essence, life is a contradiction, a paradox. We live to die. We lie to protect the truth. We wage war to achieve peace. We seek calm while creating chaos. We poison our bodies to improve our health. We create time-saving technology that increases our workload. We gather knowledge that denies our commonsense. We save money only to spend it. Our wants are not always our needs.

These contradictions flow through life often unnoticed. They’re accepted as part of life. We’ve learned to live with them and to rationalize their existence in thinking things will be better or that things just work that way.

Then there is the self-contradiction that leads to hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is an ugly word, a rotten seed that turns people ugly. No one likes to be called a hypocrite, yet we all harbor some hypocrisy by virtue of being human.

“Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

For the most part, hypocrisy is sublime. We don’t think about it when we display it. And if we do recognize it, we find a way justify it.

Hypocrites are fakers, sometimes two-faced. They pretend to have certain attitudes, beliefs, principles, values, or feelings when they really do not. They criticize others for doing things they do themselves. They act in a way that contradicts their beliefs and values. They pretend to be somebody they’re not.

Hypocrites lie to themselves without realizing it. They employ two value systems—one for themselves and one for others—and their value system trumps all others.

“No man, for any considerable time, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

How not to be a hypocrite:

· Be true to yourself. Know yourself and be honest with your feelings.

· Live up to your principles. In other words, practice what you preach.

· Understand and accept that every person is unique.

· Don’t ask others to do what you are not willing to do yourself.

Nobody likes a hypocrite, but the truth is, we are all hypocrites at times. Don’t believe it? Then check out the article 20 Ways You are Being a Total Hypocrite.

Photo by arvin febry on Unsplash

How to dress up a hamburger

I’ve eaten hamburgers my whole life, hundreds, maybe thousands of them. I love hamburgers and will always love hamburgers regardless of my almost healthy no-meat eating habits. The hamburger is the all-American food.

I’m not talking about the anemic, fast-food wanna-be variety. I mean the big, fat, juicy 100-percent ground beef burgers you find in the skillet or on the grill. The kind that sizzle, splatter, and pop and make your mouth water and raise your senses to a level of nirvana.

Ode to a hamburger—

Give me a burger with everything on it. Lettuce, pickles, and tomatoes, and onions, too, all stacked high upon it, with mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, and a bun crusty and true—what do I care, I’m hungry and my stomach is too.

Yes, I love hamburgers. But a hamburger is just a naked piece of meat if not properly dressed. Too often, hamburgers are haphazardly thrown together. That’s wrong. The hamburger deserves to be served and eaten with honor and dignity.

Over the years, I’ve perfected my way of stacking a hamburger. Let me share it with you.

First, you need a bun, preferably toasted. Spread a layer of mayo on the bottom half of the bun. This is important. A hamburger is full of natural juices. Mayonnaise is a stable emulsion that will absorb the juices from the burger and keep the bun from getting soggy. It also provides a better taste.

Add your burger, and cheese if desired. Now, if you want to take your hamburger beyond the norm, you can add bacon, chili, or whatever. I prefer the true burger, though. Once you start adding, it becomes something else.

Next, add onions, a big slice of tomato, dill pickles, and lettuce. Do not place your lettuce directly on or under the burger. If you do, you risk eating soggy lettuce. Nobody I know likes soggy lettuce.

Take the top half of the bun and spread with mayo, mustard, and ketchup.

Presto! The perfectly dressed, highly fashionable, ready to eat burger. And oh so simple.

Ozzie for President

Ozzie was a smart man, even though he couldn’t read nor write too good. But he could count. Especially money. Ozzie had a good sense about money and business. So I didn’t think he was crazy when he said he might run for president one day. He was always up to something.

Every couple of days, Ozzie drove around the neighborhood in his old beat up pickup with wooden sideboards rattling at every bump, looking for any kind of work he could find. He usually stopped and sat a while with my grandpa on the front porch, and they would gab about one thing or another.

One afternoon, Ozzie and Grandpa were discussing some wood rot on the far end of the porch. I sat listening and whittling down the end of a sapling branch into a spear.

“Looks like termites to me, Mr. D. Maybe I can get underneath and take a better look.”

“Don’t know, Oz. I just had it sprayed last year. The bug man gave me a three-year guarantee.”

Ozzie cocked his baseball cap to one side and scratched his head. “Maybe you better call the bug man and get him back here. I think it’s termites.”

About that time, Grandma appeared from around back of the house with a full laundry basket.

“Well, hello Ozzie. Didn’t know you were here.”

Ozzie stood up. “Hi Miss D. Let me help you with that there load.”

“Thank you, Ozzie, but I believe this young man is plenty capable of carrying my laundry inside.” Grandma handed me the basket without a word.

“I was just telling Mr. D, I think you might have termites over in the corner there.”

“Didn’t we just have the bug man spray last year, George?”

“I’m gonna call him to come take a look. We have a three-year guarantee.”

“George, do you know what day this is?”

“Friday, I think. Why?”

“Don’t pretend you don’t know. You know good and well Fridays is trash day. We got a heap of it you need to take to the dump.”

Back then, we didn’t have garbage collection service so people had to take their own garbage to the county dump. It was an unpleasant job that Grandpa hated.

“OK. Let me change my clothes first.”

Grandma smiled, wished Ozzie a good day, and went inside.

“I hate going to that dump. That place carries all kinds of diseases.”

Ozzie listened, thinking. “I got a idea, Mr. D. How about you giving me a little gas money and I’ll take your trash away for you?”

Grandpa’s face lit up. “How much we talking?

Ozzie wetted the point of his finger as though it was a pencil and began to calculate on an imaginary piece of paper.

“How about eight dollars? And I’ll load it up myself.”

That was the day that Ozzie, a smart man, began his run for the White House.

The idea was brilliant. Ozzie went from house to house and offered, for a small fee, to pick up and take people’s garbage away. It didn’t take long until everybody in the neighborhood was paying Ozzie to take their garbage away.

He did this for a couple of years, picked up more customers outside the neighborhood, then bought some more trucks and hired some kids to pick up the garbage. Ozzie had become our town’s first trash collector, and making more money than he could ever count.

I was out front tossing around a football when Ozzie pulled up in his brand new black Ford Ranger with his name and phone number printed in bold white letter on the side.

He went rushing to the front porch with a letter in his hand.

“Mr. D, take a look at this.” He handed Grandpa the letter.

“Well want you look at this,” Grandpa said. “It looks like the city council is giving you a contract to pick up all the town’s garbage, both private and municipal. You done went and got yourself an official government contract.”

“Something, ain’t it?”

“I’m proud for you, Oz. This is a big thing.”

“Mr. D., I been thinking. And I mean this serious, I might just run for president one of these days.”

“Shoot, Oz, you know no colored man can ever be president. It just wouldn’t be right. People won’t vote for a colored man. Same with a woman. You know that.”

“But you see, Mr. D, I have an angle. A little slogan Robbie worked up for me.”

Grandpa laughed. “OK, Oz, let me hear it.”

Ozzie grinned and cleared his throat. “Here it is—

“Let’s put a trash collector in the White House. There’s plenty of trash up there that needs dumping.”

Grandpa slapped his leg, reared forward almost falling from the steps and hooted like I’ve never heard. “That’s a good one, Oz. A real good one. You definitely got my vote.”

(This short story was inspired by true events.)

Take Off Your Clothes: A Dialogue

“Take off your clothes!”

“And let you see me naked? No way Jose!”

“I will if you will.”

“Ha, ha. I already know what you look like with no clothes.”

“No you don’t.”

“I do too. I saw you.”

“When did you ever see me naked?”

“Ain’t telling.”

“You’re lying.”

“I’m not lying. I saw you naked. Just last summer up at the lake. You, Bobby, and Toby. Remember, you were all skinny dipping. Debbie and me watched every bit of it from behind some bushes. We saw your little thing.”

He blushed. “It ain’t that little. They just get little like that when the water’s cold. That’s all. Don’t you know anything?”

“You’re lying. I know what I see. If that’s true, then what about Bobby and Toby? They were in the same cold water you were in.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, they definitely had more to show than you, cold water or not.”

“Umm. OK, so they might be bigger, but that don’t mean nothing.”

“I’m just saying. Besides, I really don’t care how big your thing is. I’m not taking off my clothes for you, and that’s it!”

“You’re just scared I’ll make fun of you. Besides, I know what naked girls look like. I’ve seen a few.”

“In your dreams, maybe.”

“Dang, Shelia. Why do you always have to be so disagreeable?”

“Why do you always have to act like a prick? I don’t even know why I hang out with you.”

“Because we’re friends. And not only are you the coolest friend I have, but you’re the neatest person I know.”

“Oh Dougie. That’s the nicest thing I’ve ever heard you say.”

“Then what about it? Are you going to take off your clothes?”

“Sheesh, I give up.”

 

 

Two Travelers in the Night

A short story by Gail L. Winfree

Upon receiving the small package just two weeks to the day Bones died, Dexter packed his photo gear, laptop, photo albums, his favorite CDs and books, and a few clothes, and drove off into the loneliness of the night.

His road was unknown and his quest unsure. With Bones at his side, Dexter had taken many road trips—through forty-nine states and three countries—always returning home, wherever home was at the time. Bones was always at his side, his faithful companion for nearly sixteen years.

As he turned onto the road, Dexter reached over and patted the brown mahogany urn with the name “Bones” and four paws engraved on it, resting in the passenger seat on a blanket, Bones’ blanket.

“What do you say we just follow the road east, Buddy? See where we end up.”

Dexter heard the agreeing bark and felt a familiar cold, wet nose nuzzle his hand. “East, it is then…east it is.”

Sharing a train compartment with a woman who has fleas

a short story by Gail L. Winfree

A man and his dog squeezed into the small train compartment where a woman sat looking quite proper but desperately unhappy. The man smiled, tipping his hat to the woman, and took a seat across from her with his dog at his side.

“A fine day to travel,” the man said. The woman clutched her bag and scooted closer to the window, turning her attention to the activity taking place on the platform outside.

The man smiled and rubbed his dog’s scruff. “Rex and me are going to Aberdeen to see my daughter. Ever been to Aberdeen?”

The woman rolled her eyes and said nothing, still staring out the window with the demeanor of a big toad sitting on a lily pad.

“Yeah, Aberdeen’s a fine town. Been a spell since I was last there. May I ask where you’re headed?”

The train began to pull out of the station, huffing and puffing, building up speed as the waiting faces on the platform blurred into warehouses and apartment buildings. The woman shuffled in her seat and propped her arm against the window, watching the changing landscape.

The man looked at his watch. “Right on time,” he said to the woman. “That’s what I like about riding trains. Rode many in my day.” He stretched his neck toward the window to catch a look outside. The woman’s ample body made it impossible for him to sit any closer to the window side. “Do you take the train often?” he asked the woman.

The woman started to wriggle and turned to face the man for the first time.

Rex lay on the floor pretending to sleep while keeping one curious eye on the squirming woman.

“Sir.” she burst out. “Can you please take away your dog? I feel a flea crawling up my leg.”

The man sat back, stung. His smile turned confused. He got up, looked at the woman, shaking his head and tugging on the dog’s leash. “Come Rex, let’s go find another seat. I believe the lady has fleas.”