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Artificial Intelligence on the Job - Is the Joke on Us?

Posted by Brian Spence on May 15, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Artificial Intelligence, Career Advice, ProductivitySince the first man, or woman, used a stone to make a chore easier, humans have been fashioning tools. And since those tools some 2.6 million years ago, according to the Smithsonian, human culture has advanced steadily. From small steps of making fire to giant leaps like the printing press and the steam engine, we have invented things to advance our civilizations.

When a stone age man struck a stone with another stone to make fire, that was work. When he hit his thumb with the rock, his wife laughed. No matter how primitive or advanced, we humans need humor to make the workplace bearable, to relieve tension and reduce stress. Tools can't do that for us.

Technology has changed the world, and certainly the workplace. We can do things faster and more efficiently than any of our ancestors, including the previous generation. In the last fifty years, we have had a computer revolution. They can do things it would have taken thousands of man hours to accomplish in an hour or less. They can fly airplanes, drive cars, perform surgery, deliver groceries, remind you to take your insulin...and the list is almost endless. They can do impressive things, but they can't make us laugh.

AI, a new breed of tool?

In the end, no matter how sophisticated the tool, it's still a tool. Artificial Intelligence(AI) is no different. But somehow we think it is. It's the human desire to have an emotional connection with things the same way we relate to our pets. Because AI machines can be housed in human looking shells, we expect those mechanical "people" to behave like actual people. The simple fact is, they can't. They can't return affection or make you smile any more than a toaster can know how dark you want your rye unless you tell it; and your car doesn't possess the innate instinct to protect your family.

Computer scientists and engineers have been trying to get AI devices to be funny, with spectacular fails. It's a machine after all, and though it is "intelligent", it's only as smart as we program it to be. Even though some alarmists are warning that AI will become smarter on its own and take over the world, it will never happen because they can't instill a sense of humor into a machine.

Why does it matter if they can't make a joke?

Robots do what they were designed to do, "It only knows what you tell it ", says Tristan Miller, who studies this at Darmstadt University in Germany. It can't have a sense of humor because it doesn't have a human soul. It can't experience the emotions we take for granted because they don't have emotions. Data from Star Trek was a lovable robot who struggled with human feelings, and audiences liked the character because he was displaying human behavior.

There is no way to put a soul into an AI device. There is, "a very significant gap between what machines can do and what humans are doing," says Noam Slonim, an Israeli researcher in the field of humor and AI. Computers just don't "get it".

If we get to a point where we need computers, robots, and AI to provide the humor in our workplace or in our lives, the human race will be in a lot more trouble than just needing a good laugh. Humans will always need humans to be human.

We have come to rely on computers and AI for a great many things, but there are still things computers can't do. At Staffing Plus, we use humans to help other humans find positions in the Behavioral Health, Education, and Healthcare fields. For more information on how we can help you, please contact us.

If interested in further information on this and related topics, visit the Productivity and Career Advice sections of our blog.


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Staffing Plus is a premier healthcare staffing firm that provides temporary, per diem, temp-to-hire and permanent Staffing Solutions for Behavioral Health, Education, and Healthcare settings. We have leveraged decades of experience to assist organizations with the challenges of managing their HR and Recruiting needs.