I've been reading lately about artificial intelligence, how someday it will replicate the judgment that people show, and threaten human primacy. We won't need writers, artists composers. Machines will do it better.
To which I think: hmmm, maybe yes. Or maybe no. Given the difficulty that people have consistently demonstrating the mental acuity expected in a full-fledged person, machines have a long, long way to go.
Even a task as simple as mine, on this blog: toss up something interesting to others once a day, every day.
In the three and half years I've done this, I've developed a few readers—just passed the 2 million mark, which is either moderate success or abject failure, I can't decide: another difficult human judgment call.
In that time, nobody has ever volunteered to write a post.
And then, March 10, I received this:
The link was to a quarry equipment supplier in Australia. Curious, I replied, linking to my Thornton quarry post:
Ten days passed, while my custom content was being crafted. Then this:
Attached was this story:
First impressions are the most important, right? So when someone comes to your home, the outside is the first thing they see. That’s why having a beautiful driveway is so important, and gravel driveways can look particularly impressive.
You might find that you’re having water problems on your gravel driveway, with ruts, washouts and birm. This likely means that you have drainage issues. You’ll need to evaluate your driveway to decide the best way to fix it. If you have higher areas around your gravel driveway, you could add more gravel to make it higher. Alternatively, you could also install a ditch or culvert to help pull the water away from where it flows over the gravel.
An easy way to help maintain your driveway in pristine condition is to ensure that you keep removing any debris. This could include leaves and sticks, and the longer your avoid the problem, the more time consuming the task will be later. Try and get them removed once a week to keep on top of the problem.
Even with landscaping material underneath the gravel driveway, weeds can still be a problem. The best and easiest thing to do is to keep applying weed killer to the surface, to stop any pesky weeds growing through.
Despite this, they can be challenging to maintain. To help, we’ve created our top tips to keep your gravel driveway looking brand new all year round.
Ok, this is just a quick fix, but it’s still useful if you’re short on time. Your gravel driveway is likely to develop potholes, and these can be fixed by using a shovel to even out the driveway. Simply even it out and tap it down. Be aware though that this will leave a weak area, so the pothole is likely to come back.
Now do you see why editors are always so drawn and testy? Look back at what I requested: "something about Loft quarries." And what I got: something about weeding and pouring more gravel on your driveway.
Did I mention Loft Quarries sells gravel? It does.
I could have rejected it. But assuming Jyoti Kakkar is a real person—the name might sound exotic to you, but there are 23 Jyoti Kakkars in Linked-In, and I imagine this one in some windowless room the outback, among 300 other women tapping at keyboards, and did not want to vex her, nor add to her life's burden. I wrote back what every writer the world over longs to hear:
Redline Media seems to be in the business of helping companies with their online presence. As their web site puts it:
We assist our clients by integrating creativity with today’s technology in order to achieve your online business objectives. By working through a goals-based assessment of your real-world business requirements, we will develop effective online and offline strategies to provide a measurable return on investment.Remind me to kiss the ground in my office. I should experience the nauseous crack of doom in all this, should feel like a Neanderthal, standing in the damp, dark chill of nighttime on the veldt, gazing in dumb envy at the cook fires of the Cro-Magnon men who will replace me. My old boss, Michael Ferro, now the master of tronc, certainly believes machines will be constructing watchable videos and writing news stories any moment. Certain short, generic news items are already computer-generated.
But I just don't see it. Yes, the Internet is created by vast banks of young persons working for peanuts churning out material such as the above. But would you honestly spend much time on-line if that was the general quality of what it offered? Hell no. Even if execution gets better, much better? The human mind is a profoundly complicated organism, and most owners of it can't write a halfway engaging post or edit a decent video.
Still, this experience is, I hope, worth thinking about, while human thought is still occurring online and not just dead algorithms grinding away. Some money must be trading hands, somewhere, right? How this Australian gravel company can find it in their interest to hire this marketing company to generate content on my page, through the good offices of Jyoti Kakkar is an utter mystery. Though let me point out that I'm sure Ms. Kakkar is a fine individual supporting a family or just starting out in the world and I hope she is not too distressed by seeing the, ah, addition material that I've generated to frame her piece. But she should know, you reach into the dark box of the Internet, you never know what is there, waiting to sink its fangs in you.