AI: Friend or Foe?

by Chasidy Rae Sisk

I don’t know about you, but to me, it seems like the “future” is being shoved down our throats constantly, and it’s full of acronyms.

EV, AV, AI – no thanks! As an older member of Gen-Y (remember when they called us that instead of “Millennials?!”), I’m pushing middle age since I’ll be entering the last year of my thirties later this month, and although my generation is known for embracing technology, I’m over it. 

I’ve got a long list of qualms whenever anyone broaches the topic of electric vehicles. They’re expensive, and the infrastructure isn’t there yet – plus who wants to charge for hours instead of spending 10 minutes at the pump? Then add in the dangers associated with accidents, all while questions linger as to how much “greener” this option really is! Autonomous vehicles? Well, I’m basically the definition of a control freak, so that’s pretty high up on my “heck no” list. 

But the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) triggers a whole different level of fear and resentment. Maybe it has something to do with the popularity of movies like I, Robot, A.I. and the Matrix trilogy during my high school and college years, but I always associate artificial intelligence with the idea of computers taking on humanity’s role, usually in a malignant and chaotic way. Yet, every way I turn, it seems AI is being thrown into the mix. 

At the most recent Collision Industry Conference (CIC), the subject came up from the perspective of today’s AI uses; instead of being viewed as something coming soon, panelists made it clear that AI is here now (check out the recap by my talented co-worker on page 24). They also acknowledged that I’m not the only one who has some deep-rooted fears about AI taking over, especially in our job roles. The mention of Grammarly, a free online AI tool to improve writing, made me cringe – the idea that a program can exhibit a skill that I’ve spent 20-plus years honing…well, it’s a little insulting, isn’t it? 

So, I decided to give it a try. I downloaded Grammarly and ran a couple of my articles through it. It made a couple minor suggestions, like removing “really” and adding an Oxford comma. Okay, what about if you run something through that wasn’t written by a professional? I inserted a couple of unedited documents written by other people and compared it to the edited versions. Eh, it did a mediocre job actually. It caught most of the actual errors and made a few suggestions for clarity. Did it identify every change that I made when I edited the same document? Nope. Because it’s not a human with decades of experience. But it caught a few things that might be beneficial for a non-writer who doesn’t have an editor at their beck and call 24/7. 

Maybe AI isn’t the enemy after all. Perhaps, it is just a tool that can be used to make things a little bit easier like those CIC panelists suggested. It may be able to perform certain tasks, but it certainly cannot replace a sentient, experienced professional – not yet at least! And if AI can perform certain administrative tasks and reduce the busywork burden on people and businesses, is that such a bad thing if it allows us to spend more time on the more difficult aspects of the job that actually necessitate our expertise? 

I cannot say that this little experiment has made me an AI acolyte, but I’m willing to be a little more open-minded about the benefits it may offer. Just don’t ask me to test-drive an EV.

Want more? Check out the June 2024 issue of Hammer & Dolly!