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The ‘Perfect Antidote’ to Artificial Intelligence

We have much to learn from those who care for people in need
February 22nd, 2024

February 22, 2024

By Jim Towey

MC Sister and Alfonso

Yesterday was Alfonso’s birthday.  He had been a preacher before glaucoma took away his vision in both eyes.  His wife and two daughters did what they could to care for him at home but weren’t able to make it work.  Several years ago, they turned to the Missionaries of Charity (MCs), Mother Teresa’s nuns, to see if they had room in their homeless shelter to take him in.  They did.  Alfonso moved in (I’m not using his real name and I’ve blurred his face) and has lived there ever since.

I wish I could say he was upbeat and happy yesterday at the little gathering the Sisters organized.  He wasn’t. But that didn’t stop the Sisters from singing for him and showering him with affection. After he was pointed in the direction of two birthday candles so that he could try to blow them out, and the cake was served, his spirits revived.  I asked him how old he was and without skipping a beat, he said, “Ciento cincuenta” – 150.  Even a blind eye can have a twinkle sometimes.

The Sisters care for 25 men and 12 women in this shelter.  The residents don’t have to leave at dawn and return at dusk as is common with most homeless shelters.  That’s a good thing because only a few could survive on the street.

This shelter is their home.  They eat meals together and pass the day in the common room or sometimes in the chapel.  One resident who suffers from serious mental health challenges has lived in this home for over 30 years.  He, too, has been loved back to life by the MCs and the great people who volunteer there.

The perfect antidote

I have been writing about Mother Teresa’s nuns lately because the compassionate and caring work they do is the perfect antidote to the artificial intelligence onslaught.  AI continues to gather momentum, reap huge profits, and invade more and more aspects of daily life, all under the guise as a panacea to life’s troubles.  The Sisters, on the other hand, humanize the world.  They provide hands on, exhausting, 24/7 care for the poorest of the poor whom the AI elites have coded out of existence.

People without money can’t sit at the AI table and play.  The fancy Apple and Meta/Facebook virtual headset toys that cost thousands of dollars and promise altered states and virtual realities that rival the wildest LSD trips any hippie ever took, have no place in the real-world the poor, disabled, mentally ill and isolated elderly inhabit. The MCs are all about relationship with God and God’s people.  In the MC universe, people are more important than algorithms and generative AI and its wizardry.  

The AI gold rush

At some point, probably when more and more decent paying jobs disappear, the American public will wake up to what OpenAI pioneer Sam Altman, one of the generative AI masterminds, and his cabal have cooked up.  But it may be too late.  When the Wall Street Journal wrote a story ten days ago with the headline, “AI Is Starting to Threaten White-Collar Jobs. Few Industries are Immune,” the article attracted the same yawn from the public that the pharmaceutical ads warnings of seizures, vomiting, and other possible side effects command.  “I’ll swallow AI and take my chances.”

Oh, and no worries about the article that ran two weeks earlier in the same storied publication, right?  It warned that “The (AI) technology’s rapid advance threatens to overwhelm all efforts at regulation.  We need our best tech experts to rein in AI as fast as companies are competing to build it.”  I can hear Mark Zuckerberg saying, “Nothing to see here, either, folks.  Put on your Meta Quest 3 and come escape with me!”

This week, Nvidia, the company that manufactures the sophisticated chips that power the AI revolution – chips which are to AI what plutonium-239 is to nuclear weapons – has the traders dancing on Wall Street.  Nvidia now hovers in the range of a $2 trillion market valuation.  Its fourth quarter profits were eight times what they were a year ago.  There is so much hype about AI stocks that I am surprised that McDonald’s isn’t advertising a McChip burger with AI sauce on the side!

What it means to be human

As Americans are being force fed AI and its progeny, the MCs and other fellow human beings of like disposition are holding down the fort on what it means to be human.  Tomorrow morning, residents in their shelters will wake up to the kindness and caring that was Mother Teresa’s trademark.  These men and women won’t pay a penny for their care, either.  They will have a place to call home, and someone over them who is happy that they are alive.

AI may be reaping billions in profits, but the warmth of a human hand and the affirmation of a human smile are, and always will be, priceless. 

(The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Aging with Dignity and/or its Board of Directors.)


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