Saturday, June 15, 2024

Missing Out On AI?

Maybe obsolete software and hardware will become valuable commodities in the future!

The latest brouhaha with so-called "AI" is a pissing match between Elon Musk and Apple.  Musk, as is his habit, is seeing a new technology getting a lot of press, so he wants to get in front of the parade and tell everyone he invented it.  He was supposedly an early investor in OpenAI and then left when they wanted more money.  He sued them, claiming that OpenAI was planning to no longer be "open" but sell its services to commercial users.  Then he dropped the suit after e-mails emerged where he apparently advocated for the same thing.

People who pointed this out were banned from Twitter because, you know, free speech absolutist.  Between Trump and Musk, I feel like I'm living in a daycare center for preschool kids.  Oh, no, not another tantrum! Time Out! Go sit in the corner young man!

But it goes on.  Musk diverted a zillion chips (and that's a lot!) from Tesla to his own AI project (supposedly) which, if true, would be a massive conflict of interest.  Imagine the President of GM having company employees paint his her house - for free.  There would be a shareholder derivative suit!

But the fun continues.  Apple is promising to put AI into its O/S somehow, which will surely mean the platform will be even more stable than before! Of course, you'll have to have the latest-and-greatest Apple phone to participate in this nightmare.

Whew! I am safe! My woefully obsolete hardware and software won't support these latest "innovations. The Galaxy 7 "Active" won't even update anymore.  Thank God!

I was on eBay the other day and snagged another Toshiba C-series (C655) laptop for $30.  Now I have four - and a box of spare parts to boot.  It is in working order with 500GB of hard drive (the max this machine will support - I use about 1/3 of it) and 4GB of RAM which I can easily upgrade to eight.  It has a broken hinge (they all do) but I am adept at fixing those now, with superglue and baking soda. The only downside is someone loaded (or Microsoft auto-loaded) Windows 10 on it, but we can fix that with all our legacy copies of Windows 7 Ultimate, which is far more stable and easier to use.

State of the art?  Hardly - they started making this series in 2010.  Yes, it is a decade-old technology, but it runs my two-decade-old software just fine.  Word 2000 and Quickbooks 2002 as well as Adobe Acrobat 8 are all paid-for and work just fine (and Adobe has no IP rights to my creations, either!).  Of course, this is a temporary solution - eventually they will make it so I can't use these machines. Chrome already informs me, ominously, that they cannot update Chrome to the latest adblock-proof version unless I upgrade my O/S and of course, that would require a new computer.  I learned the hard way, years ago, that the latest-and-greatest O/S effectively bricks older computers or phones.  Best to turn OFF "autoupdate" on any older machine!

(And yes, my Canon laser printer makes nice B&W copies using generic third-party cartridges, printing hundreds and hundreds of pages without complaint or asking for a royalty.  I will have that printer until I die!).

But in the meantime, it got me to thinking, maybe I am sitting on a goldmine!  When AI takes over the Internet and even your phone and computer, where will people go to seek refuge from this nightmare? And the answer is, equipment so obsolete that it can't run AI programming.  After the upcoming wars between man-and-machine, survivors will covet old-school machines such as these.  Linux will be a firewall to insidious AI infiltration!

Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  In its effort to finally rid itself of its "Don't be evil" heritage and render its search engine utterly useless, Google now has AI responses (in addition to "sponsored content") as the first hits on its search results.  The net effect is that Google, once the card catalog of the Internet, is rendered useless.  Keyword searching had its limitations, to be sure, but AI searching is far, far worse, telling you what it thinks you want to know rather than what you need to know.

And what it thinks you want to know is where to spend more money, at the highest prices possible, on utterly useless crap you don't need or even want.  We need a Google for Google - a search engine that scans the search results and then searches them for really relevant data.  These days, the best hits seem to be on the third or fourth pages of results - if Google even deigns to show you those.  Time was, a simple search produced pages of hits.  Today, you get one page of sponsored content and increasingly, the "there doesn't seem to be anything there" message.  Really Google? You searched the entire database of planet Earth and found nothing?  I don't believe you.   You are just lazy.  No one wants to work anymore - not even AI bots!

I miss the days when I could go online and with a few keystrokes find the lowest price on goods on the planet.  I could go on Amazon or eBay and find great deals at astounding prices.  Today?  Well, half the items for sale on eBay are just arbitrage (reseller) bots relisting an item sold directly from Amazon for $5 more.  And Amazon always steers you to the highest priced option, it seems, particularly if they are selling it directly.

I guess it finally happened.  The "Personal" computer is no longer personal, but merely a portal to download and display carefully curated data from our corporate overlords.  The Internet is no longer an equal-access database for everyman, but a set of silos all under lock-and-key.  The bottom line is you gotta pay-to-play.  And it seems most people willingly do so - spending real money to put useless "flair" on a cartoon character in a video game, for example.

We need an online revolution to take back what is ours from the Zuckerbergs, Gates, Bezos, and Musks, of the world.  So long as we keep playing - and paying - they will own us.