You know, each and every one of us came with a brain.
It's a great piece of equipment. It's capable of tremendous, astounding feats of calculation and expression beyond any computer -- or network of computers -- mankind can create. AI is really a great concept, but it's only a concept. God gave you something we can't even completely apprehend, never mind comprehend.
And yet, so few of us use them.
I've seen some really dumb things in my 4 decades. I mean, really dumb. I've probably pulled some of them, too, but some of the ones I've seen -- firsthand, mind you -- really would astound you.
Let me give you some case studies:
In the San Francisco Bay Area, there's an electric light rail system called the Bay Area Rapid Transit system -- BART. The BART system was to be the area's answer to New York's subway system or Chicago's Elevated Rail System (or the "EL" as the natives call it fondly). It's a nice train system -- the cars are pretty comfy, with nice air conditioning and heating systems to keep riders comfortable, relatively plush, comfortable seats for your sitting pleasure, tinted glass on the windows to cut down that awful afternoon glare, and full wall-to-wall carpeting. It's major weaknesses are expense (it's not cheap to ride it) and it's not very extensive (only 4 or 5 major branches that go to the four major "corners" of the Bay Area).
As a young man just out of high school, when you wanted to get from where I lived -- in the far eastern suburbs, some 40+ miles from SF -- to the city itself, the most efficient way was the BART system. You didn't have to pay for parking at the stations, the trains ran into the night, and you didn't have to deal with traffic (no kidding, that's a big deal). So, I often would go to the city and spend my days either in the wharf or on one of the north point beaches on the western peninsula. The more "artsy" area of SF is also readily accessible with just a cable car ride up the street, and beyond that the tourist-traps of fisherman's wharf and Pier 39.
I also knew a few people that I liked hanging out with down in that area, and they could often pick me up at the BART station or meet me in SF and spend the day.
One particular autumn day, I was riding the mid-morning train from my end to the SF end. I just stared out the window, letting my mind wander, occasionally doing some people-watching or eavesdropping on nearby conversations. Just waiting for the train to reach the destination is a journey in itself.
As I stared out the tinted windows, I noticed someone approaching me from behind. His reflection in the window caught the corner of my eye.
It was a man that was the classic, mid-80's "power exec," with his shiny, clearly silk suit, buttery-soft Italian leather shoes, gleaming gold and sparkling diamonds, exquisitely coifed and groomed in every detail, with coordinated but not matching tie. Over his arm was draped a very expensive trench coat and he was just pulling the high-end Ray-Bans from his eyes when I viewed his reflection in the sienna pane.
He leaned forward politely, seeing that I hadn't turned to face him, and gently but firmly, said, "Excuse me."
I turned to face him then, and lifted my eyebrows in acknowledgement of his inquiry.
"Are you reading that newspaper?" he asked mildly.
I was dumbstruck for a moment. I didn't have a newspaper. I looked at my hands briefly to ensure that I hadn't somehow picked one up without realizing it; then I looked around by my feet. Nope, no paper. As I swiveled my head about trying to figure out what this man was talking about, a flash of newsprint and a crinkle of paper caught my attention.
I was sitting on a newspaper.
I couldn't believe it. I looked at his earnest expression, and there was no trace of a smile on his face. I was completely dumbfounded. He was serious.
So, I assumed he wanted an answer. I decided to give him one.
I stood up, turned the page, sat back down and said "Yes."
He blinked once, then twice, then thrice. He drew himself up to his full height, then slowly hung his head and walked silently away. I heard the rush of air as he opened up the divider doors and exited the car in favor of another one.
Now, I realize that may have been rude, but be serious -- did he really think I was reading the paper? I mean, he walked into that one.
Over the next couple of days, I'm going to try and remember some of these stories that my wife so dearly loves and post them here. I hope any other visitors I have -- if indeed there are any -- will enjoy them too.
God bless, and don't forget to turn on your brain before you turn on your mouth.