Don’t Rely on AI

Productivity, Systems

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“I wish my task manager / calendar would tell me what to do without me having to schedule everything.”

These are just a couple of many I have received, and they concern me. Why would you want AI to tell you what to do?

There are a number of issues here. The first being it would be handy to look at your calendar and see it all neatly organised with your day scheduled for you. But AI does not know how you slept last night or whether you had a fight with your partner that morning. 

A few months ago, I saw a feature in Outlook that automatically filled your free Calendar slots with suggested focus work times. some consider it genius, but perhaps doing focus work on Thursday afternoon might not be the best thing to do? What if what you really need is to go out for a walk or take a rest?

Imagine the future: we feel we need to stop for twenty minutes to get some air, but we don’t because our computer tells us that the best use of our time at that moment is to sit back down at our desks and do some focused work.

Do you really want that? I hope not.

Some AI features are great. They do help us be more productive. 

Take, for example, hasty meeting notes. Run them through ChatGTP and ask it to tidy them up. Within a few seconds, you have a beautifully organised set of notes.

However, there are hard limits to where you want technology to control your life. Allowing tech to tell you what to do is scary. You are a human being with independent thoughts. It’s that ability to make choices that make you uniquely human. Trees, plants and other living organisms do not have that ability. If you take away the freedom to make decisions, you take away the essence of being human.

A computer has no feelings. Rather than taking the morning off to visit your dying grandparent in the hospice, your computer will tell you to make twenty sales calls or do two hours of deep, focused work. Is that the best use of your time in that moment? No, it isn’t. (I hope you did not need me to tell you that.)

The same applies to when you do your weekly planning. You do not want AI telling you what you should be focused on next week. That decision should always remain exclusively yours.

However, AI-generated meeting minutes, standard email replies and presentation outlines are great uses for AI. You remain in control; you tell it what to do — like having your own personal assistant. It can also be helpful to break down complex concepts and find answers to problems. The difference between using technology this way and allowing it to control your day is what makes you human.

Technology should serve you, not the other way around. Never forget that. It’s your ability to make independent decisions about how you spend your time that makes you a functioning human being. So, taking twenty minutes or so to plan out your week and allowing ten minutes at the end of the day to plan the next should never be delegated to computers. If you do that, you have effectively put yourself into a pod where highly advanced machines leach your body’s heat for energy — AKA living inside the Matrix.

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