#383: It’s March! Let’s read and discuss “HUMAN_FALLBACK.” (It’s about AI.)
Join us on Sunday, March 26 to discuss Laura Preston’s outstanding essay
Are you scared of ChatGPT? Many of my educator friends are. Take your pick:
It’s the end of high school English!
It’s the end of the college essay!
It’s the end of higher education!
Me, I’m not so worried. At least, not in the short term. But if you ask me if I’m afraid of machines taking us over someday, I’d say yes, We’re doomed.
We’re seeing it already: I can’t drive anywhere without my GPS; my students can’t remember anything unless they set a reminder; I don’t know where I’m supposed to be unless I check my Google calendar; my friends are tracking their sleeping and their snoring, everyone’s got their AirPods in.
One big trend is that I no longer know for certain if I’m chatting with a person or a computer. That’s what this month’s Article Club selection is all about. If you’re creeped out about technology, you’ll really be creeped out by “HUMAN_FALLBACK,” by Laura Preston. (But in a good way, I promise!)
If you’re intrigued by the question, “What does it mean to be human?” then I urge you to read Ms. Preston’s outstanding essay and join our discussion on Sunday, March 26. There’s more information below!
Ever felt you were chatting with a bot? It could have been Laura Preston. She’s a 29-year-old graduate student whose job is to help a conversational AI named Brenda lease apartments to people who think they’re talking to a human being. Usually Brenda does fine, but if prospective tenants get too personal, she surrenders, calling for “human fallback.” That’s when Ms. Preston takes over. She has three minutes to craft the perfect reply, or else the humans might get suspicious (and her boss angry). The job (which pays better than teaching, by the way) is nonetheless mind-numbing. “The only way to keep pace with the inbox was to go into a state of focus so intense that at times I felt on the verge of astral projection. I heard nothing and felt nothing, not even the cues of my body.” (26 min)
This month, I warmly invite you to read, annotate, and discuss “HUMAN_FALLBACK” as part of Article Club.
If you’re interested, this how things will go:
This week, we’ll read the article
Next week, we’ll annotate the article as a group
The following week, we’ll hear what a loyal reader thinks about the piece
On Sunday, March 26, 2:00 - 3:30 pm PT, we’ll discuss the article. Ms. Preston plans to join us! ⭐️
If this will be your first time participating in Article Club, I’m 100% sure you’ll find that you’ll feel welcome. We’re a kind, thoughtful reading community. Feel free to reach out with all of your questions.
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Excited about this! I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts about chat GBT/AI, it’ll be fun to dig in to with this group!