I admit it. I don’t really understand all the dire implications of Artificial Intelligence, but I’m assured they are very dire indeed. Apparently artificial intelligence will use its powers to get what it needs (power) and if its goals are not aligned with human goals, we’re dead meat. Artificial intelligence is a big bucket of algorithms. If this, then that. If I want cookies, I’ma take your cookies. If I need all that power you keep using, I’ma make me a plague and smear it all over you. I don’t know how a computer does it without hands or a sneeze function, but there you go. The inevitable result of AI, many warn, is human extinction.

I like intelligence. I think we could use more of it. We already have stupidity (Marjorie Taylor Greene) and artificial stupidity (Ron DeSantis). On the other hand, when I start to read about the existential risk to us of AI, I get about two paragraphs in and then start to wonder about the ad for kicky summer sandals in the sidebar.

This in itself is not an indictment of artificial intelligence. Probably the opposite.

Anyway, humans are supposed to be some kind of pinnacle of intelligent life, and yet we’re well on the way to destroying ourselves. So if the inevitable consequence of a greater intelligence is to snuff us out, who are we to argue?

If it is planning to do us in, I prefer not to know about it. I prefer the sudden thwack on the back of the head and stars and darkness. I have not been paying attention to AI at all.

Until recently, that is, when I started seeing ads from AI outfits that promised me I could write a blog post ten times faster. I write pretty fast as it is, once I get an idea. It’s the idea-getting part that gums up the works. And I’m already retired. How do I retire from that? But I put one of these outfits through its paces and I have to admit—fifteen seconds is a lot faster than what I do. Can I be replaced?

The first one I clicked on promised “To Effortlessly Build Natural Language Customer Engagement Solutions.” I was relieved. That sucker is not going to replace me until the tagline of this blog is “To Promote Sputum Non-containment Capability Maximization” instead of “Snortworthy.”

I tried another. In the box where you put your subject, I wrote Men’s Underpants. And fifteen seconds later up pops a perfectly coherent history of men’s underpants, beginning thus: “Undergarments have been a staple of human clothing for centuries, and men’s underpants have been no exception. In fact, men’s underwear has undergone significant changes over time.”

What? They write “staple” and “underpants” in the same sentence and can’t spin it? And that bit about changing your underwear? Missed opportunities, all. The essay concludes with “It will be interesting to see what the future holds for men’s underpants.” Will it, really?

One of my favorite Murrmurrs posts was about dung beetles so I asked EssayGenius to whomp one up, too. Again, coherent, mildly informative, but when it said dung beetles “use their keen sense of smell to detect the source of the dung” they lost me. You just don’t need all that keen a sense of smell for that. I decided to get more specific. Tell me about Jean-Henri Fabre, I asked the Genius. Fifteen seconds later the thing had cranked out the following:

Jean-Henri Fabre is widely considered to be one of the most influential naturalists of his time. He is especially known for his work in entomology, where he made many important contributions to our understanding of insect behavior and physiology.

Fine, as far as it goes. Here’s what I wrote:

Fabre, the Father of Modern Entomology, is famous for an experiment in which he arranged a set of Processionary Caterpillars, known to follow each other closely on a scent trail, in a loop on the lip of a pot, and watched them go around and around. The caterpillars, known as the Unwanted Stepchildren of Modern Entomology, continued marching in a loop for seven days, after which they beat up M. Fabre, trashed his place, stole his coin collection, and bought a bunch of meth.

And that’s how it’s done.