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COLM TOBIN: Now, would a salmon invent a bear if it could? So why have we invented AI?

April 21st, 2024 4:30 PM

By Southern Star Team

COLM TOBIN: Now, would a salmon invent a bear if it could? So why have we invented AI? Image

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I MEAN, there are some weeks when I just don’t know what to say to ye.

One sideways glance at the global headlines at any given moment is enough to plunge you into a pool of depression and give you cause to throw in the towel and return to the leaba.

How do you even help your kids to process the overwhelming barrage of bad news from the Middle East, to Sydney, to our own roads, coming at us all in a raging torrent every day of the week?

I mean, how do we even manage it ourselves? We need to put on our own oxygen masks first, right?

In an effort to answer this question for myself, I did what any self-respecting journalist would do at this time in history and I asked the AI.

My new AI friend (let’s call him Eddie for argument’s sake) is available to me on a free trial basis at the moment and is frankly cheaper than a shrink, so I hit him up for some tips. And he gave me some solid advice, I have to say.

He told me to limit my exposure and to take a break from the news. He also advised that I choose my sources wisely (cough, Southern Star, cough) and also to remember that not all news is accurate or complete. All good points! Thanks Eddie!

Eddie went on to advise that I maybe talk to someone (Joe, maybe?) and also to remember that there is also lots of good in the world.

Eddie suggested that I try to focus on the positive things in my life and the things that make me happy.

‘You make me happy,’ I said to Eddie, and we spent a long evening snuggled up on the sofa together watching Taskmaster.

Okay, I made the last bit up. My wife will be relieved to know that you can’t cuddle an AI, no matter how hard you try.

You can’t sink a pint with a robot, either.

And neither of them will be there for your funeral to shake hands with your loved ones, when all is said and done. (Although that would make for a solid episode of Killinaskully).

The truth is Eddie AI is just learning this stuff from millions of bytes of online data and I can’t trust Eddie as far as I can virtually throw him.

After I had left Eddie to return to whatever weird version of computer university he attends while he isn’t humouring me, I logged onto Instagram for a bit of light relief, completely ignoring his advice in the process.

I happened upon a brilliant routine by a US comic who made the point that with AI, we are basically the first species in history to literally create a potentially superior predator that might get rid of us. By creating these large language models that are, as we speak, outflanking us in maths and coding abilities, we are basically creating our own future conquerors. As the comic said – it’s a bit like salmon inventing bears!

And then I just started to feel worried again.

Step away from the AI!

SO we should step away from the computer, throw our phones in the sea and aggressively favour Marty Whelan over Morning Ireland.

And that’s what I’ve been doing, for the most part. And let me tell you that one of the most glorious things about living in the age of the TikTok Taoiseach is not having TikTok on your phone.

Which means I haven’t a clue what simple Simon has been saying or doing to appease the masses on the internet since the beginning of his terrifying reign of kindness a week or so ago.

Is he running five-minute ‘better than the takeaway’ Thai cashew chicken recipes from his kitchen? Is he live-streaming home workout routines, or doing book reviews around occasional updates from the British Irish parliamentary association?

I wouldn’t know.

However, putting your head in the sand about this stuff isn’t really practical in the long run, especially if you have young children, and especially if you saw RTÉ’s Prime Time investigation report on Tuesday evening.

It’s clear to me that there is a huge emergency coming down the tracks surrounding just what we are exposing our children to, by giving them phones too early and letting them loose in the wild west of social media. This is a project Mr Harris could be setting his mind to in the months ahead.

FAI drops the ball on top job

I SEE the FAI has announced the departure of chief executive Jonathan Hill from this role.

When Hill leaves the association at the end of the month, apparently David Courell will take over on an interim basis. I’ll be honest, ladies and gentlemen, these could be two characters from Corrie, so little do I know about the FAI and its constant, internal psychodramas.

I did have a thought, however, and maybe it’s a result of all the talk of the Israeli Defense Forces in the news. If there is no Irish manager to be found in the weeks ahead, could it be possible for the government to introduce conscription to fill the vacancy?

Hear me out.

You could fill the role up until the next World Cup using a rotating panel of taxi drivers, who think they know so much about everything anyway.

Surely we’d stumble on one who could throw a team together and fluke a few nil-all draws?

It’s just an idea, but if successful, it could be rolled out across the public sector and could save us millions on executive and pension fees.

Why not include many other jobs that people would prefer not to do – I’m thinking of the Minister For Health, Director General of RTÉ, the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána ....

You see, that’s the sort of lateral thinking Eddie the AI could never pull off.

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