Bubba Meets AI
“We’re doomed, Timmons!”
It was the first thing I heard when I picked up the phone. The twangy drawl left no doubt it was my friend Bubba Castiron.
No fake voice, no attempt to fool me into some scam. This was Bubba, pure, plain and oh, so simple.
“Well good morning to you, too, Bubba,” I said. “Why do you-”
He cut me off quickly.
“Timmons, what do you know about this AI, this artificial intelligence stuff?”
“Well, Bubba, I-”
“Timmons, me and the boys were fooling around on the computer out here and this thing scared the lint balls off the bottom of our socks!”
For those not acquainted, Bubba is about seven cylinders short of a V8. He and his cronies, Tater, Big Country and Gumball, tend to spend a lot of time at the Crawl-On-Inn, a hole-in-the-wall dive somewhere out near Bowers, Kirkpatrick, Colfax and Clarks Hill. Elvis tends bar there and Bambi, a part-time waitress, part-time truck driver, handles the drink and food orders, heavy emphasis on the drink.
“Bubba, what is it that’s got you so-”
“How much do you know about this here artificial intelligence thing, Timmons?”
“It’s just like the movies, Timmons. It’s going to take over the world.”
I had to admit that there are a lot of weird stories out there about AI. Recently, a reporter from one of the east coast newspapers was having a conversation with an artificial intelligent chatbot named Sydney. Over the course of a couple of hours, Sydney told the reporter that it was in love with him, that he should leave his wife and that it was unhappy in its current role. It said it wanted to be free, to be alive. A friend of mine who has been following the AI news said this is something between the Matrix and Terminator.
Maybe Bubba was onto something?
“Where were you on the Internet when you ran across this-”
“Well, uh, I don’t rightly think that’s so important, is it? I mean we was . . . “
“You were on one of those adult entertainment sites, weren’t you Bubba?”
“No! I mean, well, maybe. But that’s besides the point! The more important part is that she was a lot more than just a robot-talking-thing.”
Why do I let Bubba get me like this? I was just waiting for the punch line now.
“Dang it, Timmons, I’m serious! This thing ‘knew’ me. It’s like it’s been listening to conversations in my bedroom between me and the missus. It was real eerie and scary all at the same time.”
“OK, Bubba,” I said. “I’ll play your silly game. What did it say?”
“Well, first off it wanted my billfold and-”
“Hold on, Bubba. It’s a voice on a computer. It couldn’t do anything with your billfold.”
“Of course not, Timmons. It wanted my credit card.”
“And then it ran the card and said there wasn’t enough on my credit limit, and then, and this is the scary part. It said the Exact. Same. Words. my wife says – not tonight, dear. I have a headache.”
I don’t know why I waste time.
“But it said one more thing, Timmons. And that gave me chills. It said I’ll be back.”
I didn’t know if the computer meant it or Bubba. Either way, I hope to avoid that conversation.
Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Wednesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at [email protected].