OK, let’s take a deep breath. I’d like to tell you a short story about technology.
We all know Artificial Intelligence is very much a freight train barreling down on us. And when you think about it, this has some really good things about it and some … well, interesting things about it.
For example, did you know that many of the basic sports scores are written by computers? All it takes is entering the details (for example, box scores in baseball) and the story is written. Did you know AI has been writing? Click here to see if you can pass the test and can identify who wrote these – a human or computer?
What’s that you say? You’d like one of these bots for your own work? Well, here it is, your own writing bot.
Now, think about how you train an AI. In a game such as Go,(Wiki) you teach it the rules, and then allow it to play against itself learning how to constantly improve and become better with each game. Eventually, the computer is good enough to beat a human master.
But how do you train an AI to answer non-fiction questions?
You can’t let it play against itself. Somebody has to teach it what the questions are and what the correct answers are. You know, for example, the stuff that gardeners have been learning for centuries and passing down from one gardener generation to the next.
The quick answer is you find a way to record all the questions and all the answers from a human population that understands such things.
And you give an AI full access to the net and all those lovely extension and linked websites to suck information into its database. The AI now has the basic information and if it can access the questions and human answers, then correlate them with the “official” research answers, it becomes a powerful tool.
So where are all these gardening questions being asked and answered ?
Ah, ummm, well… How about Facebook?
Facebook is working like crazy on AI research.
Facebook has numerous gardening groups full of ongoing Q&A. Groups exist for any form of garden information you can imagine. And for knitting, crafting, writing, boating, … I could write a very long list but I’m sure you’ve already done so in your head.
So not only are questions and answers being exchanged in a form of community assistance, all those data points are stored on the servers for the future AI to use.
And yes, that’s a future operation but I suggest it’s coming faster than we might think for something as simple as answering a specific gardening question such as “What is this flower?” “How do I plant a tomato that’s too tall?” Or…
Note that Google already does something like this very well.
Ever ask Google a question and see the small box appear at the top of the search result? That small box contains the exact information you’ve been searching for. At the very least, Google has all our email and our searches to test its AI against when it comes to human-computer interaction. At the most, it has the entire web in it’s “brain”.
So, if you’re a fellow garden or non-fiction writer it may be your information that pops up in that small box but the reader isn’t going to your website and isn’t clicking on your ad or link to an ebook. You’ve just done that work for Google for free. You’re welcome Google.
Bottom line and Returning To Facebook
Facebook provides a home for an unlimited number of subject specific groups. I’m sure you can name as many as I could.
So not only do the groups supplant what a garden writer such as myself does, they are also feeding the future of gardening information to the computer storage system of the AI team.
But Isn’t AI In The Future?
The AI is in the future but who knows how far the future is away for this kind of information exchange.
The future for subject content experts such as myself is almost here now. Facebook doesn’t pay us to give answers. It expects us to do so for the “exposure” and the “likes”.
And if we don’t, there’s all those community group members crowd-sourcing correct answers. Who provides the information is irrelevant to Facebook. Over time, it will sort out which are the correct answers and which are truly wrong.
But to make matters even more interesting, Facebook wants me to spend money advertising to attract visitors to my websites.
So Now The Other Shoe Drops.
Instead of one advertising game in town for companies, there are now two major online advertising behemoths for companies to spend their advertising dollars. (Google and Facebook)
And with competition comes lowered prices (always a good thing I’m told) If the cost of advertising is lowered, then the cost Google Adsense pays to websites must be lowered. (See that shoe dropping now?).
Keep in mind, Facebook doesn’t pay me to produce content for them.
Also understand there are thousands of individuals and other experts (extension staff in gardening) answering questions within Facebook so the company has no incentive to pay content experts (whether it’s me, a knitter, or a boat repair person or…).
The very real bottom line here is that no matter your content expertise, Facebook will provide the answer and will be able to do so automatically via AI within a relatively short time.
If not the Facebook AI, then clearly the Facebook community groups that are crowd sourcing the information now fills that function for a great many people.
So How Do I Feel About This?
- Grateful to have recognized the problem.
- Sad to have missed it for this long when I knew it was technically possible and likely.
- Relieved to have a plan to deal with it.
But most of all
I’m filled with wonder at what the world will be like in another few years. I have no idea how it’s all going to sort itself out, but it’s fascinating to be part of it.
It’s a fascinating future indeed, but now I know how a buggy whip maker felt.