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Your Guides to Excellent Writing

Artificial Intelligence, Language, & You

Also see texting, handwriting, and language.

Beware of word choice suggestions from AI

by Stephen Wilbers

Author of 1,000 columns
published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune & elsewhere
 

 

Disclosure: This column was written with the assistance of AI.

 

According to/Per Stephen Hawking, the human species is at risk of mass extinction. Just last November the renowned theoretical physicist predicted our species could survive on this planet for only 1,000 years. But now he thinks we have only 100 years to find a new home.

 

The news is so distressing these days. Once in a while/Occasionally I’d like to hear something good. Mass extinction? Colonize another planet in 100 years? I mean, who cares about what happens to our planet and the human species in 1,000 years? Let’s just keep doing what we’ve always done. But 100 years? Now I’m really worried/worried.

 

Hawking believes that the threat to the survival of our species has to do with /must do with a number of/several factors. “With climate change, overdue asteroid strikes, epidemics, and population growth,” he argues, “our own planet is increasingly precarious.”

 

As a result/Thus, we need to find another home if we are to survive, and advancing technology will make our move possible. Unfortunately, technology is a double-edged sword. Hawking thinks the development of “full artificial intelligence,” for example, “could spell the end of the human race.” Hawking believes that “once humans develop artificial intelligence, it will take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate,” and the human race doesn’t/people don’t stand a chance. “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded.”

 

But as long as/if we’re on the subject of technology and artificial intelligence,

I want to take a contrary view. I believe we need to examine Hawking’s warning according to/per normal assumptions of risk and likelihood. I mean, I know he’s a genius and all, but I for one really appreciate/appreciate all the things technology does for me.

 

Take Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook, for example. My Office 365 subscription now provides a “grammar & more” option under “proofing” options that offers me writing style suggestions. I first noticed this wonderful new feature when squiggly blue lines suddenly began appearing beneath certain words and phrases. According to/Per Word’s style suggestions, for example, I should change according to to per.

 

I’ve been marking Word’s style suggestions in this column with slashed constructions like this: first my word choice/then Word’s word choice.

 

So/So, thank you, Word, for your able assistance. If I weren’t so worried about Hawking’s dire warning about the downside of artificial intelligence, I would compliment/complement you for . . .

 

What? What are you suggesting? You’re telling me to change compliment (which means to praise) to complement (which means to complete or to go with)! If you’re so intelligent, why don’t you know the difference between those two words?

 

Actually, now/Now that I look at the changes you’ve suggested in this column, I realize that I question a number of your suggestions. In fact, I actually resent/resent them. I wonder if my readers’ response is similar to/like mine.

 

Hey, Word! Wake up! Are you sleeping?

 

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