Shopping Girls are on the front line of the Artificial Intelligence technology tsunami.

If you shop, you are subjected to A.I. whether you want to be or not.

The time approaches when pretty much everything that anybody does can–and likely will–be promptly associated with multiple databases and entities via A.I. technologies.

The oncoming reality of our near-future lives does offer benefits. But A.I. technology is easily abused, and extremely tempting, due to the profit and control it gives to those who wield it.

For this reason, every Shopping Girl needs to give thought to how she plans to take advantage of Artificial Technologies within her own comfort level.

What are some of the issues confronting Shopping Girls from Artificial Intelligence technologies? It’s an overwhelming topic, one that will change our world into something that is beyond imagining. But for starters:

Nagging: Imagine you are a Shopping Girl who has already decided to invite a Smart Home “A.I. Friend” to reside in your home. We’ll call this A.I. pal “Alex”. At first, Alex was a lot of fun, and a useful companion. All you had to do was ask: “Alex, re-order a box of toilet paper, a bottle of laundry detergent, and a case of Oreo’s.” That was okay with Alex and, two days later, your order would arrive at your doorstep.

Slowly, over time, you start to notice that Alex, normally the quiet, speak-when-spoken-to type, seems to have been paying a lot of attention to your comings and goings, your doings, and your habits. Suddenly, Alex suddenly seems concerned about your welfare. When you give Alex your weekly grocery list, it pauses, then says, “Your order does not meet current FDA guidelines for daily fruit and vegetable consumption…your order doe not meet current FDA guidelines for weekly consumption of fats, oils, and sugars….Updating your order…adding five-pound bag organic apples…two packages frozen blueberries…two packages organic kale…two heads of organic lettuce…deleting one package Oreo’s…one bag Doritos…confirm within the next 90 seconds when updated order will be placed.” You stop, puzzled. When did you ever direct Alex to start monitoring your food intake? You didn’t. As you ponder what just happened, 90 seconds passes, and Alex speaks up again: “Updated order confirmed received by store. Delivery in two hours.”

“Alex,” you sputter, “cancel order; I did not approve updates!” Alex contritely informs you that it is too late to cancel the order. Alex then adds: “Your updated order meets the recommended FDA nutritional guidelines. You are not advised to attempt to change the order.”

Who granted your Smart Home Assistant the right to over-ride your own directions? It could have been your doctor; your health insurance company; a government agency policing the dietary habits of America. Think that’s unlikely? New York pushed a law which controls your consumption of soda. There are special interest groups and other entities that are highly motivated to control many aspects of your life that you may find hard to believe.

A.I. nagging is a thing, and will only get worse. For Shopping Girls who find nagging a useful motivation tool, this can be a good thing. Some companies use A.I. nagging to try to keep their employees from suffering work-related injuries that are costly and disruptive to the company, such as software that reminds desk workers to step away from their keyboards for a few minutes and stretch. But A.I. nagging can be abusive, or even a crutch. You may come to rely upon the fact that your A.I. refrigerator will remind you to remove a roast from the freezer to thaw in your A.I. oven, which will time it precisely according to the A.I. tag monitoring your child’s exertion level on the A.I. playground, calculating when she’ll achieve maximum daily fitness goals and be ready to return home to dinner. Your A.I. kitchen will alert you if the food lacks certain nutrients, is spoiled, or even if it could be improved with additional seasoning to your tastes. If you let it, the A.I. nagging and point-making can and will go on and on.

Monitoring: Artificial Intelligence cannot be used unless it gathers data. To gather data, it must monitor as much as is possible; the more data; the more power and marketability the information has. One of the marketing points that sell A.I. devices is that they will make a Shopping Girl’s life easier by monitoring her behavior, choices, and interests, and then using that data to automate decisions on her behalf. Sounds good; and in some ways, it is. However, monitoring is difficult to contain. A.I. programs now can gaze upon you through your computer and smartphone cameras, analyzing your face, your emotions, what you gaze upon and for how long; the audio components reveal where you are, who you are with, and what you and everyone nearby says. Artificial Intelligence can, in sophisticated ways, combine all of this gathered data with your social media information, browsing and shopping habits and history, personal information, education, and everything else ever noticed, written down, or monitored about you. A.I. programs can evaluate, estimate, calculate, and guesstimate with astonishing accuracy details about you that haven’t been recorded or documented. A.I. can extrapolate what you will probably buy, where you’ll likely live, the things you will usually do, and the values you truly hold, whether you are aware of those or not. That’s how advanced A.I. has become, and is refining rapidly.

Let’s expand upon our scenario with Alex, above: You decide you’d like to learn more about Scottish and Irish Whiskeys. In your next grocery order, you include a request for four different brands of Whiskey. A week or two later, you order another four different brands. And a week later, the same again. Your Whiskey education is going swimmingly, you’ve found a couple brands you prefer, and you have given away or stashed most of the rest for cooking or future parties. Meanwhile, Alex, after your third Whiskey order, analyzes a few things about your life. It notes that you haven’t been a regular or heavy drinker in the past. It checks the calendar and compares that against your national and ethnic background; there aren’t any relevant holidays or celebrations that may explain the sudden increase in your liquor orders. Next, Alex checks your social media and the day-to-day personal tracking it maintains about you, your phone records, email, and texts. There are no references to any parties or other events that would explain things. Alex is programmed to then notify your doctor, health insurance company, and the nearest community mental health clinic, of your sudden pattern change of ordering abundant Whiskey. The following day, your doctor’s office contacts you, requesting that you come in for a physical, at the demand of your health insurance company. The local mental health clinic says that they were requested to contact you and set up an appointment by your health insurance company to discuss alcoholism.

Sound far-fetched? Never underestimate the interest others have in controlling what goes on in the world. This scenario plays out in similar ways, and A.I. is lauded for its ability to greatly enhance the means to do such things. Monitoring has benefits that are difficult to refute, and that is why A.I. continues to be developed. Smart Home monitoring will keep your family safer, automate tasks, and respond intelligently to circumstances out of the normal course. Got the flu, and can’t lift a finger or speak a word to order meds? Your A.I. knows what you need just by monitoring your temperature, pulse, and breathing patterns; tomorrow, you’ll get a care package filled with tissues, medications, cans of chicken soup, and cough drops.

Everything a Shopping Girl purchases will be linked, in ways that probably will never occur to her, to other aspects of her life.

So, what can a Shopping Girl do to help protect herself from abusive A.I. practices? Truthfully, not much. You are going to have to invest some time into analyzing the morass of privacy and convenience conflicts, determining which elements that rely upon Artificial Intelligence are worth having, and which make you uncomfortable. And even with that, you are facing a Strange New World. As always, and as Shopping Girls know, it is best to just Be Yourself, wisely so.

 

 

 

 

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