How I am Starting to Use AI in My 60s

I’m about three weeks into just BEGINNING to use Artificial Intelligence (AI). As someone in my mid-sixties and not interested in the programming side of using computers, I thought it would be a good thing to start looking into what AI does and doesn’t do and how someone my age could use it.

Let’s just start by saying I am not among those who are afraid of AI or am going to worry that it will eventually dominate, enslave, or be the end of humanity. In the brief time I have been exploring AI’s uses in my life it has been eye-opening and a fun adventure – I’ve learned a lot.

Even if AI does see us as a part of the problem and decides to get rid of us, there’s nothing I can do about it and in the not-too-distant future, due to the exponential nature of AI’s growth, even today’s so-called experts will not be able to do anything either.

So, in my infinite wisdom (sarcasm), I’ve decided to have fun with AI and see where using it leads me over the next few years as I learn more about something that when I grew up was nothing more than science fiction.

An Image

I asked Bing AI to create a picture of what AI looks like and this is one of the images it produced.

AI’s interpretation of what it looks like

I’m torn in several directions that AI attempts to humanize its appearance versus giving me an image of lines of code, which is what AI is – a computer program. A very highly developed one, but still a program. Perhaps somewhere in all those lines of code is a command line that suggests that AI is less intimidating if it appears to look like us – when AI is not us. This might be something to explore more in the future.

How am I Using AI?

The answer: Poorly, and vastly underutilizing what AI is capable of.

However, my needs are those of someone who is retired, has certain interests and hobbies — I’m not running a business, part of a government entity, or researching the next big idea. There isn’t a lot of data crunching or the myriad of other things that AI could accomplish going on in my life. Plus, I am still in the initial stages of figuring out how it fits into my needs.

I’m using AI to generate backstories for my Dungeons & Dragons characters. While it may seem trivial, it is an activity I enjoy. I have been playing D&D since 1977 and love creating new characters and imagining their lives and personalities. However, I have grown tired of the worn clichés that often revolve around certain classes or races and find that I easily fall into the trap of those stereotypes while creating new characters. AI is helping me overcome these tendencies. I use AI to generate character backgrounds based on my chosen parameters. The outcomes are incredibly diverse and imaginative, ranging from comical, to tragic, to inspiring. Then I edit or modify the characters to suit my preferences, using the AI-generated ideas to enhance my role-playing experience.

Also, just learning to use AI has been a challenge I’ve enjoyed. As a sort of tech-savvy individual (I still remember Windows 1.0 and Commodore computers), who has read way too many science fiction novels. I am very curious about AI’s functionality and capabilities, and how it works in real life versus just academia or business, as well as its potential impact on our lives. I read articles and watch videos that simplify AI concepts and experiment with various AI prompts, tools, and applications available online. It’s been intriguing to observe how each AI toolset interprets the same prompts and produces different responses.

As a former teacher, I can see a time when I use a more AI driven approach to learning more about something I’m interested in and using it as a proxy tutor.

While I am content with my writing style, I know that my grammar and proofreading skills could be improved. So, I use AI to assist me with my writing projects, primarily as a copy editor and to refine ideas like I did with this post. The ease and quickness that AI can proofread my work, and make wording suggestions/correction, let’s me quickly revise what I am writing and focus more on what I am writing and not worry so much about the mechanics of writing. AI serves as an additional set of eyes, helping me catch errors that I tend to otherwise overlook.

It also provides some ideas and rabbit holes that I probably wouldn’t have thought of to see how they fit into my writing. I still draft the articles and posts, but instead of spending hours poring over articles or videos to figure out the information I need, I can get a jumpstart or get over writer’s block by using AI.

Even though you damn well better fact check the information that AI gives, because sometimes it isn’t all that accurate or doesn’t pertain to the prompt or query you thought you wrote. There are also subtle clues that articles are written primarily by AI tools, and I can see myself looking into those cues much more closely in the future as well. Plus, I’ve noticed that AI tools don’t seem to use the lower level swear words as a part of their common responses and seek to correct me when I use them in my writing.

My Perspective

The future of AI is going to be complex, not without controversy and more than a little handwringing by many people. AI’s potential and transformative influence on the world and our lives is indisputable. Instead of fearing or resisting this change, I’m going to embrace its potential to positively impact our lives, despite the disruption it may cause.

With AI’s continuous exponential growth, the probability of the AI Singularity happening in my lifetime is almost certain if I am still here in the next 10-15 years – who knows it might be sooner. The only question I have is when it will happen, not if.

We have to remember popular books/movies with AI’s named HAL, VICKI, SkyNet, and so many others are works of science fiction. They are fictional stories that were written primarily to entertain us with an implacable villain that must be defeated and carry a warning about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence. Those stories don’t mean that AI will eventually turn into fictional examples of AI gone rogue.

I want to believe that there will be a better future ahead for us with AI being part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Even if the worst-case scenario occurs and AI decides to eliminate humanity, as depicted in a multitude of science fiction stories, there’s won’t be a lot any of us can do about it. Well, other than shutting down all AI programs right now, then destroy all vestiges of artificial intelligence in our computer systems as in Dune’s Butlerian Jihad. Which isn’t going to happen.

Since I don’t see AI going away and only see it becoming a larger part of our daily lives, I’ll take my chances and make the most of learning to use AI while I can.

Yeah, a piece of science fiction from when I was young is here, and it is going to be a big part of our future. Now we have a choice to either embrace it or fear it.

What’s your choice?

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