Just when I thought I had my quota of internet friends, along comes a request from Jasper. More than just a prospective friend, Jasper has a three-tiered price tag for his friendship. He also has a spokesman by the name of Austin Distel.
An email invited me to watch a ten-minute video about Jasper. That’s when I met Austin, who appears to be in his late teens, has unruly dark hair and was holding a robot-like action figure which, as it turns out, is Jasper. Austin speed-speaks, and after not understanding a word the guy said, I turned off the sound.
I thought the fast-paced graphics might tell me all I needed to know about Jasper, but I was wrong. They flew by as fast as Austin spoke.
As it turns out, Jasper, who is gifted with “artificial intelligence” (AI), wants me to pay him not to be my friend but to do my work, such as it is.
Why I would do that is something of a mystery. If Jasper wants to write my weekly columns for me, then what the hell am I supposed to do?
I’m suspicious of the whole AI thing and am concerned about where it might be leading us. I don’t much mind if a robot makes the hamburger I might pick up from the drive-thru or a car from some place in Detroit, but I like a more personal touch when it comes to such things as medicine, driving a car, or kitchen remodeling.
Considering the lack of genuine intelligence, artificial intelligence seems to have a place in our world. It can be used to code all sorts of programs to perform all sorts of tasks. The Roomba Robot Vacuum is one primitive example. It looks like a space-age footstool, as it scurries about sucking the dirt out of carpets and up from bare-wood floors. Some cats like to ride around on them while dogs seem happy just to bark at them. I’m in line to buy one as soon as they can climb stairs.
But back to Jasper.
He makes some fairly unbelievable claims. For instance: End writer’s block with ideas from a robot. I don’t know if Jasper knows what kind of ideas I’m being blocked from, but I kind of doubt it. I don’t even know what kind of ideas I’m being blocked from. Whenever I’m suffering from writer’s block, I watch ten minutes of Cris Collinswoth announcing an NFL broadcast. It clears my head.
Stuck staring at a blank page? Jasper asks. Relax and let Jasper write creative copy for you. Staring at a blank page is just the beginning of the writing process. Relax? Hardly. There’s no relaxing until blood from the forehead drips steadily onto the blank page. Then write 600 words and relax with alcohol—the hard stuff.
But wait! There’s more! Tell Jasper about what you want and then watch the AI write paragraphs in seconds. I hope it can do a better job than that sentence.
The artificial intelligence that Jasper has came from being trained by the world’s best SEO and Direct Response Marketing experts. And it can do it creatively and clearly in 25+ languages.
I suppose there will come a time when blog posts, newspaper articles and novels will be generated by computers equipped with advanced forms of AI.
In the meantime, I’ll just continue slogging through writer’s block, bleeding onto the blank page, and grinding out sentences word by word, right up until happy hour.
Photo illustration by Courtney A. Liska
This is a classic dish from the Italian-American repertoire. It is super easy and delicious.
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine or broth
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1-3/4 pounds large or extra-large shrimp, shelled
1/3 cup chopped parsley
Freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon
In a large skillet, melt butter with olive oil. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add wine or broth, salt, red pepper flakes and plenty of black pepper and bring to a simmer. Let wine reduce by half, about 2 minutes.
Add shrimp and sauté until they just turn pink, 2 to 4 minutes depending upon their size. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice and serve over pasta or accompanied by crusty bread.