Since the 2020s in general have been so utterly terrible, I like to focus on the smaller disappointments, like the fact that I do not have a robot assistant. At this point in the future, should I not have AI that can assist me in handling my day to day? I want a virtual assistant that will not only tell me my agenda for the day, but will also tell me what I need to prepare for each meeting. There are many current trajectories that tell me I’m living in the wrong timeline entirely, that history has gone off its rails since the hopeful decade of the 1990s. Today, however, I’m choosing to focus on the lack of actual helpful AI assistance as the proof that this is a wrong tomorrow.
I find myself instead imitating what I think my own robot assistant would sound like sometimes, a weird idiosyncrasy that helps me externalize my priorities and my thinking. What would an AI assistant tell me my priorities were? If I am overwhelmed by everything happening around me, how would an external rational program help me identify what I really need to know for a day?
This is why I sometimes talk to myself in the shower while on business trips, especially at times like these when I have been through five states in three weeks (Colorado, California, Pennsylvania, New York and today, Florida) and need to remember which corporate hotel I am staying in, and why. I’ll start reciting to myself, in a virtual assistant voice sometimes, as if I am trying to add very concrete rationality to what could otherwise spin into a series of existential questions:
Good morning JILLIAN. Today is AUGUST 10TH, 2022. You are in JACKSONVILLE FLORIDA. The weather today is VERY HOT AND MUGGY. You have meetings with [CLIENT NAME REDACTED] AT 10:30AM. Your top prioriy tomorrow is to GET YOUR SLIDES DONE BEFORE THE 8AM MEETING WITH THE GROUP IN THE LOBBY. Your next flight is to CHICAGO AT 4:52PM AND YOU NEED TO BE AT THE AIRPORT BY 3PM AS IT DOES NOT HAVE CLEAR. Your top priority today is to REVIEW THE MATERIAL FOR THE NEXT PITCH. Your next priority is to PREPARE FOR MEETINGS IN CHICAGO.
There’s a very structured rationality to how I imagine an AI assistant would give me information, which I lack in my day to day. If I was giving myself information, I’d immediately get sidetracked by a zillion details. Did I book the dog’s daycare? Did I reply to a Scout email? Have I texted my friends to make vacation plans? Do I have time to get my nails done? I’d go down rabbit holes of tasks that aren’t time sensitive or aren’t important. Whereas when I imagine an AI assistant giving me information in the morning, I assume that program is set up to only give me information that is in the upper left quadrant of the Eisenhower matrix.
Also, sometimes, I just think it would be cool to have a robot me that could help me prioritize and sort through my thoughts. It’s very Black Mirror, the idea that I could have an artificial intelligence so close to my own, that it could know and understand all of the thoughts and resulting to-do items that flit through my brain. In the interim, pretending to be my own robot alter ego sometimes serves as a useful thought exercise. Maybe that’s a self-help book idea to be published. Maybe it’s just me being tired at the end of a long day, in JACKSONVILLE FLORIDA.