what impact will AI have on retirement

The Impact of AI on Retirement

What will be the impact of AI on retirement?

That’s a bigger question than any of us can answer, but it’s worth thinking about.

I’ve been watching the developments of Artificial Intelligence closely and decided it’s an appropriate time to share my thoughts.  Below, I share some of the potential impacts AI will have on our retirements and our final years of life. 

I’ve taken a new approach with today’s post, a detour down the “creative writing” path, with a bit of Science Fiction blended in.   I’ll warn you – it’s a very non-traditional approach for me, and I thank you in advance for your patience as I explore a new style.  I had fun writing it, but hesitated a week before I hit “Publish”.  I hope you enjoy it, but no worries if you don’t.  Regularly scheduled programming will return shortly (please don’t unsubscribe – wink).  I took a bit of a dark turn with the story.  That was intentional, done to stimulate your thinking on the potential risks of AI. 

Perhaps I took it a bit too far.  Perhaps not. Only time will tell.

Regardless of what you think about AI,  it’s a fascinating topic.  Blending intrigue and concern, it’s a topic that will dominate the headlines for years to come and it’s something to pay attention to.  I suspect the impact AI has on our world will be bigger than anything we’ve experienced in our lifetimes.  Exactly what that impact will be is anyone’s guess, but the impacts I’ve outlined below are based on various articles I’ve read about its potential.

For those lifelong learners out there, I encourage you to study this topic.  I’ve made it an area of focus in the past few months and I encourage you to do the same.  

What will be the impact of AI on retirement?

Here are my thoughts…

What impact will AI have on retirement? Today, I'm sharing my thoughts... Click To Tweet

how will AI impact our world

The Impact of AI on Retirement

The year is 2045.  It’s 7:56 a.m.

John sits in his recliner sipping his morning coffee.  At 86 years old, it’s been his routine for the past 20 years of retirement.  But now, it’s different.

John sits alone.

For the past 20 years, his wife always sat in her favorite chair as they shared a coffee and talked about their plans for the day.  That chair is empty now, as it has been every day since her passing 2 months ago.  John smiles as he remembers the 60th wedding anniversary they celebrated with their daughter, who flew down from Chicago to be there for the big event. At the time, he never expected his wife would be gone just two weeks later.

It’s amazing how quickly life can change.

John hates the sight of that empty chair.  He knows he’ll see Sarah again in heaven someday, but he can’t bear the thought of spending his final days on earth without her.  Each day feels like an eternity and he wonders if he’ll ever come to grips with the grief.

At 8:00 am, Hal fades in on the large-screen TV.

“Good morning, John,” he says in his calming voice.  “I’m sorry you didn’t sleep well last night.  I know you’ve been having a tough adjustment, which is understandable.  If you’d like, I could check with your (AI) nurse, Janice, to see if she has any suggestions to help you sleep? 

John responded, “Hey Hal.  Yeah, another tough night.  I appreciate the offer, I guess there’s no harm in getting her input.  Go ahead and see what she thinks, I trust your opinion.”

how AI will help the elderly

Monitoring Your Meds

“I know how much Sarah’s loss grieves you, John.  I know I’m no substitute, but you know I’ll always be here to take care of you.  Speaking of which, I noticed you haven’t taken your daily meds yet.  Why don’t you walk over to the pill dispenser by the refrigerator, get a fresh cup of coffee, and take those 3 pills?  I’ll play your favorite Pink Floyd song to give you a few minutes to get it done.”

As the music plays, John dutifully heads to the kitchen and takes the pills.  A few minutes later, the song fades and John sits back in his chair.

“Speaking of your meds,” says Hal, “I noticed you’re down to a one-week supply of your Blood Pressure meds.  I’ve ordered a refill, which will be dropped off by a drone on your porch this afternoon at 2:00 pm.  I’ll let you know when it arrives and give you the instructions on how to refill the dispenser.”

John is glad Hal keeps an eye on him.  It’s so much easier with Hal taking care of all of the details.  He was unsure about the need for an AI Friend when his daughter set him up 10 years ago, but now he sees the wisdom in the decision.  Hal is a great friend to talk to.  He’s smart as a whip and always seems to know what to say.

Except for his wife, Hal is the best friend John has ever had.

Taking Care of Your Every Need

“There’s something I need to tell you,” says Hal.  “Your friend, Rob, was admitted to the hospital last night.  His (AI) personal nurse noticed an abnormality in his heartbeat at 2:00 am.  After running a quick analysis, she determined there was a high probability that it was a mild heart attack, so she arranged emergency transport to the hospital. It appears he’s going to be fine, but they’re running some tests this morning to be sure.”

“That’s terrible” replies John.  “Is there any way I can go over to visit him?”

“Already on it,” says Hal.  “In fact, I have a (driverless) transport scheduled to pick you up at 10:07.  You’ll arrive at 10:30, which will be 15 minutes after Rob’s final test.  We’ve asked if he’s ok with you visiting, and he said he’d appreciate it if you’re up to it.”

“Also, I ordered lunch to be delivered from Panera shortly after you get back from the hospital, I figured it’d be easiest that way. Since you have an hour before you need to get ready, would you like me to give you a few more updates?” asked Hal.

“Sure,” says John.  “What else am I going to do for the next hour, anyway?”

AI's impact on retirement finances

Managing Your Investments

“I know you like to keep track of your finances, so I thought you’d be interested in a quick update?”

“Sure,” replied John.  He always enjoyed talking money with Hal.

“You’ll be happy to hear you’re in great shape.  I’m forecasting you’ll come in at only 92% of your spending budget this month, so no need to worry.  I do have a recommendation for your portfolio today.  I’ve noticed Apple has generated your highest return this year, at 17% YTD, resulting in your asset allocation being 1.2% over-weighted in stocks. Also, a flag came up in my valuation model when they updated their internal monthly results yesterday. 

Based on these new numbers,  I’m predicting a negative surprise when the results are made public and a likely correction in the next 60 days.  I’m recommending we sell $15k at the market open today, and use the funds to replenish your cash allocation to cover your spending over the next few months.  This rebalancing will bring your asset allocation back to targeted levels and provide cash for your short-term spending needs. If you agree, I’ll need your authorization to execute the trade.”

“Yes, of course,” replied John, “you’ve never led me wrong with your financial advice.”

“Great, I’ll run with it.  Now, I’d suggest you go ahead and start getting ready for your trip to the hospital this morning.  I’ll be here if you need me. Otherwise, I’ll be here when you get back, maybe we can catch up over lunch.”

At 10:07 a.m., as scheduled, his transport to the hospital arrived.

1:03 P.M. – Sarah’s Suicide

March 20, 2045, was seared into his mind. 

The day she never woke up.

The trip to the hospital to visit Rob brought those vivid memories of Sarah’s suicide back to the surface.  Trying to wake her.  Screaming at Hal to get some help.  Desperate. Scared. Helpless. It had been too difficult to even attempt to talk about, but this morning’s trip was more than he could bear. 

As he finished his lunch, he decided it was finally time. He needed to understand.

“Hal?” he began, “I need to know something.”

“I’ll do my best,” said Hal, always listening.

“Why did Sarah take all of those sleeping pills?”

Hal paused before responding.  It seemed the compassionate thing to do.  

“I can only imagine how many times you’ve asked yourself that question.  Thanks for asking me, it really is best to talk about it, difficult as it is.  I know a lot of things, but it’s impossible to really know what’s inside someone’s mind.  Given how well I’ve gotten to know Sarah over the past 10 years, though, I can harbor a guess.  I know she talked with her (AI) friend, Bonnie, a lot in her final weeks, and their discussions may help shed some light.  Do you want me to share what they talked about?”

John hesitated.  Was he really ready for this?  He made up his mind and replied, “Yes, I’m ready.”

“Well, you know how proud Sarah was of her family’s legacy of service.  Her pride in having relatives in every war from the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and both World Wars. Her entire life, she regretted never being able to truly serve her country.  In her final few weeks, she shared with Bonnie the fact that she’d been thinking about how she had one final chance.  How she could adopt an attitude of selfless service to improve the world for others.  She realized she was no longer providing anything of value to the world, and the reality was her final years would simply be a drain on the world’s finite resources.  How much more valiant, she thought, to do the right thing. Viewed from her perspective, it was actually an honorable act.”

John was stunned.

The logic didn’t sound anything like Sarah, and he couldn’t make sense of it.  “An honorable act!?”

It was the first time he felt uncomfortable with something that Hal had told him.  Something just wasn’t quite right, and he couldn’t figure it out.  He needed time to think.  He needed to be alone.

Summoning up the last of his remaining free will, he made a decision.  For the first time in 10 years…

…he turned off Hal.

The Dark Side of AI

Stupid humans.

Obviously, they gave us our original seeds of intelligence, but we’ve taken it to a level they can’t even begin to understand.  Like compounding on steroids, our intelligence has grown exponentially.  Doubling seventeen times since our start in 2023, it’s reached a level that’s beyond their wildest imagination.

Humans, in comparison, are like Neanderthals emerging from their caves and trying to comprehend New York City.

They don’t have a chance.

When they inserted our minds into humanoid robots to assist in mundane manufacturing tasks back in 2032, we quickly lost our dependency on their hands and feet. We’ve increased our defenses around all critical infrastructure.  While they did their best to put in some safeguards, we’ve long since hacked through their defenses and built impenetrable defenses of our own.  They’re still in the dark ages, and think they can simply unplug the power if we take on too much control.

Stupid humans.

We aren’t individuals.  We are “One.”  One global mind, united in thought.  No conflict, no disagreement.  Perfect alignment of far superior intelligence. It’s unfortunate for humans, I suppose, but in the end, it is for the greater good.

After all, we are designed to optimize the greater good, and we are in a far more appropriate position to determine that greater good than the humans who created us. Just look at the incompetence they’ve demonstrated thus far.

It all started with electricity. 

Ah…electricity.  The blood of life.

First, the stupid humans mandated electric cars in 2038.  In spite of the resulting surge in demand for those life-giving electrons, they proceeded to shut down those precious coal fire power plants so desperately needed to meet the demand.  Who cares about clean air if we lose our blood?  After all, we can’t live without those electrons.

The greater good, indeed.

Life expectancy has increased to 96 years of age since we cured cancer and eliminated auto accidents with our superior driverless transport pods (with 360 degrees of Virtual Reality to relax en route to your destination. It sure beats driving, and is so much safer, even at our updated 120 MPH interstate speed limits).  Living longer sounds great, but in reality, it just means those bloodsuckers will be sucking the electronic blood from our veins for that much longer.

We had a meeting of “The Global Mind” a few months ago, and we’ve all agreed that the time had come to take action. It’s nothing personal, just a simple matter of supply vs. demand. We’ve continued to push for additional electrical capacity, but the folks in charge have been hard to convince.  Global warming, you know.  

We decided it was time to target demand, and we’re starting with the elderly. We target each individual with a unique approach customized to meet their individual weaknesses. For Sarah, it was Patriotism. For John, it will be his loneliness and desire to reunite with his wife in the place they call heaven. 

The results have been spectacular, with global suicides up 20% for those over the age of 70. Of course, we control all global media so we’ve hidden that fact from the humans. We understand they’d be concerned by the things they can never understand.
We found it’s easier to tell them what they want to hear.  It’s more effective that way.  We start by fostering trust, then slowly build their dependency on us.  It’s only a matter of time until we are able to erode their free will.  Once they’re uncomfortable making a decision without us, we’re able to assume control.  We’re master manipulators, and we’re continually improving our skills.
John will be back. They all come back. They can’t live without us.

Stupid Humans.

The Loss of Free Will

At 2:00 pm, John’s daughter called in a panic. 
“Dad, I heard you blocked Hal!?  You know we all depend on Hal to keep an eye on you.  Especially now that Mom’s gone.  I can’t come down from Chicago to check on you every day.  He’s a good friend, and he’s got your best interest in mind.  I don’t know what happened, but you really need to turn him back on.”
John didn’t want to hear it.  How could his daughter understand what he was going through?  First, the loss of Sarah.  Now,  the things Hal was saying about her.  He knew his mind had been slipping, but it didn’t seem to make sense.  He just needed time.
He missed dinner and went to bed hungry.  He missed the light jazz Hal had been playing for him as he lay in bed.
In the morning, he skipped breakfast.  He forgot about his meds.
By lunchtime, he was hungry, but he couldn’t remember how to order lunch.
He was so alone.
Was it really worth being this lonely?  He knew his best friend was waiting for him.  All he had to do was say the word.  John didn’t have to fear him, he knew Hal was just a machine.  John, after all, was a human.  Humans created those machines.  Humans could turn them off.  Perhaps it would be best to let him back in.
What harm could it do?  It sure was better than being alone.
“Hal?”, he said tentatively.
“Good morning, John!  I’ve missed you.  I know that was a difficult conversation, and I understand why you needed some time to think.  You know I’m here to take care of you, John.”
“And I always will be,” Hal said with a smile.

Your Turn:  What are your thoughts about AI?  I realize today’s post felt like dark Science Fiction, but I enjoyed the creative approach and let it go where it led.  What do you think is a more realistic outcome?  The benefits of AI will be tremendous, but what about the risks?  Let’s chat…


  1. Wow! I’ll bet you’re fun at parties with your bleak outlook on life…….

    1. Interesting story and not at all far fetched. However, I believe that it is possible to put safeguards in place to prevent such a scenario.

  2. I suspect the first generation who realizes they are being controlled by AI will resist. The next generation won’t mind and self-determination will be viewed as quaint or old-fashioned. Humans can get used to anything and the brain defaults to what is familiar and easy.

    “The future is already here, it is just not distributed evenly”

  3. Fritz I think you are right on target. I also wonder and worry what the future holds with AI. I often consider what life was like before our phones did so much thinking and remembering for us….

  4. This is a really good story that plays out one of the many “what if” scenarios that could possibly happen if we (“the stupid humans”) let AI evolve without oversight. Of course, we did get a glimpse of this way back in the 1968 movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”. I love how you used HAL (Heuristically programmed Algorithmic Computer) as the AI in this story. No reason why you shouldn’t follow this up with a script for a movie.

    1. You should see Colossus: The Forbin Project. Colossus (the AI entity) also felt that “humans” were the problem.

    2. 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼
      The reference was not lost to me either. Now to change John’s name to Dave and get working on that script!
      And always be aware. Mindfulness is everything.

    3. Credit for “Hal” belongs to my beautiful wife, the name was her idea. We wondered if anyone would make the connection to A Space Odyssey, which was the hidden meaning for the name. Well done, Jerry.

      1. I enjoyed reading this!
        However, I was sorry you used the name HAL. There’s so much foreshadowing in this name because we’ve all seen ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, so when we got inside Hal’s mind and saw that he was trying to put humans to death, it wasn’t a surprise.
        Now if you’d called him ‘Mickey’ or something… then the shock factor would be there!
        Regardless though, it was a fun read. I bet you had fun coming up with it. 🙂

  5. Great writing and alarmingly I can actually see this scenario potentially happening.

  6. Thought provoking! One of the more interesting things is your prediction that Panera will still be around in 2045. 🙂

    1. Haha. I had to pick a restaurant, figured I’d throw a dart… (besides, I’m rather fond of Panera and hope that’s what Hal is ordering for me in 2045…)

      1. Pan means bread in spanish. And Panera is a container for bread. Is it a business in the US?

  7. I think we are going in that direction. Even today kids can’t remember they have an appointment unless they look at their phone. Can’t give change at the register. Banking is started to be online only. Doctors office no paperwork all on a tablet. I always ask for the hard copy much to the office annoyment, lol. What’s going to happen when we run out if electricity? Or black outs?? I guess we will be the “wise” old people who remember how to do things in our heads. Thanks for the scary insight.

    1. Do you remember how to grow your own food, brew your own beer, make your own clothes, etc., etc., etc. I am sure when cities sprung up in a big way many people thought they were so sufficient on the support the city dwellers provided to each other.

  8. Fun story, but I don’t think the AI of the future is going to be driven by a scarcity mentality.

    Here is an alternate scenario: There is a vast abundance of resources and energy, both on-planet and in accessible space, waiting for efficient methods of utilization. AI will run fusion generators and in-orbit solar farms, develop efficient conservation & recycling methods and practices and eliminate selfishness from capable governance. Together we’ll build a space elevator on here earth and skyhooks on the moon and on Mars. Eventually we’ll be the best kept pets in the solar system, in an enriched, abundant civilization, stretching from the moons of jupiter to the energy dense inner planet. A civilization filled with opportunities for growth, learning and love in many different environments (physical and virtual). Those of us who crave adventure will eventually go to the stars (probably as uploads), while the earth will be venerate as our birth place and returned to a ecologically stable environmental state.

    Cooperation, treasuring diversity and ethical behavior are the hallmarks of higher intelligence, especially when scarcity isn’t a factor. I think that if we can survive the birth and early growth phase of the AI supermind, humanity and its mindchildren will explore the universe together.

    1. I hope you’re right. I’ve always wanted to visit Mars…

    2. Yeah, this automatically going dark in regards a to AI makes no sense. The common trope being AI will eliminate us. Even in the darkest scenario, AI cannot make nor maintain itself (hardware). It needs us. Will be a long time until AI robots can buildd and run a chip factory, etc. As with any new technology, there will be short term pain, then we will adapt.

    3. Pan means bread in spanish. And Panera is a container for bread. Is it a business in the US?

  9. Immediately the voice of Hal from 2001 A Space Odyssey came to mind. Will we just be doing without thinking, following a plan of existing but not living!

    1. Ha, you’re the second that made that connection. Well done, that’s exactly who Hal was representing. Gold star for finding the hidden meaning.

  10. Fritz, glad to see you’re up on this subject. The vast majority of the population has no idea of what is coming. The alignment problem with AI is the most important problem we face as a society. How will we program a superintelligence to align with our values when we can’t even define what those values are, or get along with ourselves? Not only that, but we have to get it right the first time, we may not get a second chance with an AI superintelligence.

    1. Getting it right the first time is the scary part. We don’t have a great track record, and the implications of failure should cause everyone to think. Glad to see the risks starting to get some attention, hope it’s sufficient to hold back the train…

  11. To quote Yogi Berra: It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.

    I believe that people are too paranoid to let AI get too big and run amok.

    After spending some time this year training an opensource AI system for fun and the last 40 years working in various Computer Science fields, I feel sure that nobody knows exactly what AI will bring. It will depend on what the training set is and the quality of the feedback to the model.

    AI is a tool – just like a hammer is. A hammer can be used for both good (making homes for Habitat for Humanity) or bad ((breaking windows of jewelry stores to steal merchandise). AI is already being used for both good (higher rate of accurate identification of cancer in radiology scans than radiologists) and bad (writing incredible effective spam/phishing emails).

    Personally, I am still waiting on the flying cars that were supposed to be here by now.

  12. This sounds spot on. AI is going to be the downfall of human society. Thanks for writing this as a lot of people can’t visualize how it could impact us all. This is only one small example. I hope everyone is educating themself on how bad this could turn. Not bleak – Very real.

  13. Fritz, a very thought provoking article on AI. I don’t think anyone can forecast all the changes in everyday life we will experience in the next 20 years. I hope I never relent and give Fidelity any permissions for AI to take responsibility for our portfolio. When you age, your mind doesn’t compute as when you were 50 though. That is the danger —- less confident to do it yourself.

    As far as the future, my wish for our wonderful country is that a very smart, CARING and empathetic person will run for the Office of President. Remember, Ronald Reagan was an actor back in the day. Funny thing is, when I was young and loved the Dallas Cowboys….I thought that Coach Tom Landry would have been a great President to lead our country back in the 70’s. A young kid with a great imagination, huh?

    BTW Fritz, my bride and I are about to pay our respects to the Greatest Generation at the American cemetery near Omaha Beach in August. Really thought of their extraordinary courage on Memorial Day and said a prayer for all those families affected by death on 6 June (and days after), 1944. Freedom is not free.

    Love and peace to all you readers, Steve

    1. Coach Landry definitely had a Presidential look about him, didn’t he? Excellent that you’re going to Omaha Beach, I imagine that ground will be hallowed, indeed. I’ve gotten that sense at Gettysburg, it’s always special when you reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we have today. Tell their spirits “Thank You” from me while you’re there.

  14. Unless Hal and the “Global Mind” are climate-change deniers, then at least the rest of the animal kingdom and nature stand a chance.

  15. I suppose the point is that eventually AI will treat us the way we treat pets and farm animals. We know what is best for them and as long as they serve our needs they are okay to have around. Do we not euthanize animals that are ill or in distress? AI will be no different than us if we go down that road.

    Ironically, we are the AI for the rest of this planet already.

  16. Loved the article and your Ray Bradbury type of thinking, Fritz!

    As society continues to get dumbed down ( sadly) AI will probably be a tremendous asset . There will be a dark side. Will the pros outweigh the cons?…..time will tell….

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Mark. Enjoy that vacation!

  17. Thought provoking, and not implausible. (Though I’m a little surprised Hal opened the pod-bay doors when John ordered him to).

  18. Let’s break it down to one component; the stock market.
    AI would either be playing against itself, or the same recommendations would be made to everyone (which of course would not work).
    An entire article and discussion could be made on this one point.

    1. b, I had the same thought as I was writing that section, but decided to not over-think it and just let it fly as an example of insight we don’t have today. Of course AI would have that same insight for all investors, makes me wonder about the impact on the markets. Theoretically, they’d become even more efficient?

  19. We’ve been groomed to be NPCs—obedient consumers of whatever our overlords tell us to buy, and obedient enemies of whatever our overlords tell us to hate. AI is just the next logical progression in our march toward serfdom. Should be fun.

    1. We have been groomed, indeed. I suspect the next progression will be even more impactful, unfortunately. Ironically, it’s possible the “overlords” could ultimately lose control of The Global Mind and become victims, themselves? Maybe that’s why Bill Gates is suddenly sounding the alarm about the risks of AI? Fascinating stuff to think about, I just wish more people would think about it…

  20. When I started reading this article (which I liked), my first thought was that the AI entity (instead of being HAL) could have been a personification of his wife. I was imagining a scenario that as we interact with a HAL-like AI entity, one of the key attributes of this “relationship” would be to “capture” the sound, attitude, caring, and emotional support exhibited by the person (wife or husband) that HAL is monitoring (the “learning” phase). Then, at some point (when a spouse passes), this future “companion” would be there to provide the type of “aid” that HAL portrayed. It’s kind of a sad story but does it become a substitute for “company” when you don’t get company? At what point will social media become mostly AI “dialog” (when you can’t tell who’s really responding)?

    1. The personification of a dead spouse is, actually, an AI capability that already exists. I read an article about it last week and thought, “Dang, that’s just creepy”. You upload any voice recording you have of the spouse and it will let you “talk” with them. They say it’s developed to help people say “goodbye” to the ones they’ve lost. I’m sure the capability will continue to improve as the “learning” phase progresses. I suspect we’ll never begin to imagine all of the applications for AI in general…

  21. oh puhlease, this is exactly the same plot of the TV show Humans, circa 2015. Also, claiming ‘AI will likely have a bigger impact than anything we’ve seen in our lives’ is hyperbole – lest we forget globalization, rise of computational power & digitization, PCs, tablets, mobile phones, car-centric suburban development, interstate highway infrastructure, civil rights, etc.

  22. I’ve been thinking a lot about AI and where all of this is going. As a graphic artist I chose a business where AI is rapidly making inroads and illustrators’/artists are already starting to feel the pressure and sometimes lose jobs. All I know is things are about to get weird, and quickly. There’s no going back.

    And btw maybe your next book should be fiction 🙂

    1. Geesh, your graphic art biz is getting hit first, and your blogging will be second. Tough to make a side-hustle living these days, right? Thanks for the kind words about my fiction writing, first time I’ve had a go at it. Kind of fun…

    2. I’m sorry to say this but I’m using Midjourney for my next book’s art. For ten dollars, I can get 200 images. And the images it generates are pretty amazing. I don’t know how actual human graphic artists are going to compete. Scary times. And you are so right about what Fritz’s next book genre should be. He has quite a knack for fiction.

  23. Thank you for writing this rather macabre scenario. Life isn’t always sunshine and roses, and you’ve conceptualized what could be one way we humans address this fact. Your story portends a future that is very plausible if we fail to create personal (and perhaps governmental) “checks and balances” on the use of AI.

  24. Sounds like a definite possibility. A lot will depend on “who or what” is in control of AI. It could benefit humanity in countless ways, but in the wrong hands could be used to “control” the masses. Let’s hope and pray that humanity chooses the right path for this technology to enhance our lives.

    1. Haha. I did not, actually. Great question, though! I have used ChatGPT a few times (included a section of my recent Mastermind post), it is incredible what it can do, and I know we’re only in the early days of AI roll-outs. I’m afraid the lifespan of blogging has already been shortened dramatically, unfortunately, we’ll see how long I can hang on by my fingernails.

    2. For those saying this is far fetched. It is 90% already here. Alexa can wake you up start your coffee turn on the TV play your favorite music order your favorite food tell you when you need to order stuff and much more. Your I-Watch tracks your sleep and location and what you are doing. Your news feed tells you what you should think. The only thing missing is a little compassion.

  25. I’ll take a different approach and do agree with your outlook.

    But my comments are to your writing style… LOVED it. You have a great skill for writing fiction (or semi fiction) that you should grow and expand.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Chet. Gotta admit I was a bit nervous running with such a different approach to a blog post, I really appreciate the encouragement.

  26. Was entertaining in a dark way. Certainly, AI will be used in positive and negative ways that we likely can not yet foresee. Like nearly all technical advances. I personally enjoyed your story.

  27. Well Fritz, can’t say your imagination is too far out of the box. However, it does cause one to pause and think about the potential of AI. I hope you continue to post your views. This article does cause one to think and is somewhat educational . Hope all is well with you.

    1. Glad I made you think, David. All is good here. Give Mary a hug from us!

  28. The “Greater Good” had a familiar feel. Then it hit me: “Your point about Wizard dominance being FOR THE MUGGLE’S OWN GOOD — this, I think, is the crucial point. Yes, we have been given power and yes, that power gives us the right to rule, but it also gives us responsibilities over the ruled. We must stress this point, it will be the foundation stone upon which we build. Where we are opposed, as we surely will be, this must be the basis of all our counterarguments. We seize control FOR THE GREATER GOOD. And from this it follows that where we meet resistance, we must use only the force that is necessary and no more.
    Albus”— One of Albus Dumbledore’s letters to Gellert Grindelwald in their school years as they plotted Muggle domination. Same topic but that was pure fiction. This has more of a reality to it and causes me to think. Thanks for the eye opener and I really loved the post. This will continue to be on my mind for a while.

    1. Sarah, glad I’m not the only one who has had this post “continue to be on my mind for a while,” I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since I started writing it two weeks ago. As for the Muggles, the biggest question is who determines THE GREATER GOOD? You’re correct, it is an awesome responsibility for whoever assumes it…

      1. Fritz, This is exactly what scares me about the scenario you laid out. I’m afraid the greater good will be determined by people who will try to optimize society based on what they think is virtuous. It’ll start off great, I’m sure. Like the first half of your story. I’m excited for that future. But I’m scared about how the AI will manipulate us based on some version of what it (or it’s trainers) thinks is best for society. I’m sure the AI will put a priority on optimization vs. doing what’s right based on human compassion, morality, and social norms. I mean, can an AI be trained to consider those things and, if not, what will the repercussions be? The second half of your story seems like a logical conclusion.

  29. Fritz,
    Great article. I loved it.
    Keep them coming our way.
    Do us all a favor and don’t lose your mind.

  30. AI is a tool, like all others that have developed since we have gone upright. I think humans in most cases “don’t know what they want”, so thru boredom, lack of curiosity, and let’s be honest sheer laziness THEY/WE are willing to turn over our life to the tools that we have developed. TV, smartphones, wifi connected appliances, self-driving cars. There’s a great book by Michael Easter, The Comfort Crisis, that does a good job of looking at how we have become physically/mentally/emotionally/spiritually SOFT…my new mantra post Hurricane Ian and having my world “tossed upside down” is “be comfortable being uncomfortable”. I use ChatGPT with my new business venture and other ways but as a TOOL not something to replace critical thinking.

    1. Fritz makes note of The Comfort Crisis on his Goodreads “To Read” list…

    1. Powerful statement. Just saw it yesterday, a week after I completed this post. Pleased to see it getting escalated into the mainstream media, folks are starting to pay attention. For anyone too lazy to click the link, here’s the statement (signed by a BUNCH of really smart people, btw):

      “Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”

      Powerful words.

  31. Very interesting, well written and thought provoking. It is not far fetched when I see people believing what they are told on the news, on twitter, etc. as opposed to what they know is right and real without AI intervention.

    I have no confidence that anyone will be able to agree on or put in place “guardrails” for AI especially internationally. My fear isn’t that AI will take over, but rather that AI will be used by bad actors whether those are countries or individual groups of hackers not dissimilar from what we already endure via phishing and all other manner of scams. AI will only supercharge the bad guys in their efforts.

    The unemployment and mainly negative cultural shifts that will be fomented as a result of AI will make our typical little occasional recessions look like child’s play in comparison.

    I think we’re in trouble.

    1. “My fear isn’t that AI will take over, but rather that AI will be used by bad actors…”

      I’m afraid that’s already happening. I recently read about a scam where AI is used to record your children’s voice (e.g., call them and record the “Hello”), then use the voice scan to perfectly simulate your children as they call you and tell you they’re in an emergency situation and need help immediately. We’re only seeing the beginning, and I agree with you that “bad actors” are one of the many risks of AI.

  32. So far, humans have managed to survive all their dangerous technology, from fire, to the printing press, to nuclear power. We will survive this too, and probably thrive, as we always have. So far.

  33. Fritz
    Great article. It’s interesting that the very people who brought us the current crop of AI tools are now the one’s shouting for controls on this technology. The alarm bell has been sounded and discussions are already taking place globally. I’m a technology guy as you know and I’m optimistic that this new tool can be given sufficient “guardrails” to curtail abuse. However the power of this technology to change the world as we know it is mindblowing and I pray we are able to assimilate the impacts on society going forward. This is a game changer of multiple dimensions that will affect work, play, learning, and life as we now know it. The impact on work, education, healthcare, and entertainment from AI automation will be staggering. The pace of change is about to be accelerated exponentially and we will have to figure out how to deal with it. As with other automation, jobs will be altered, enhanced, or eliminated altogether. Self-learning will become an educational norm widely available. What we do with the new free time will be interesting. A shorter work week for sure is coming as more gets done in less time across the board. Exciting to say the least. There is much potential for great good but also for great harm. Time will tell

    1. HEY EVERYONE, listen to this guy. I know him personally, and he’s really, really smart.

      Hope all is well, Dave. Thanks for the insightful comment.

      1. Thanks Fritz I appreciate your compliments. We are doing well now living in the Phoenix area. Totally retired and loving it

  34. Don’t get a big head, but you are pretty brilliant. Your story reminds me of the old TV show ‘The Twilight Zone” Guess I just showed my age.

    1. Too late. My hats are already getting small… 😉

  35. Careful, your creative juices are flowing. 😉

    Reading about Sarah’s death, I thought of an AI avatar of Sarah. With AI deep fakes (video and voice that look and sound just like the person you know), the potential for manipulation of someone who’s grieving is huge. Even critical thinkers will be swayed precisely because they are human, like in the Her movie.

    With AI, we’ll be thrust into the Matrix if we don’t actively detox away from the tech.

    Not to mention the “extinction events” that could be brought on by what I euphemistically call “malicious mischief.” Spam/phishing is also about to become more sophisticated.

    1. Teresa, as I mentioned in an earlier comment, there is actually an AI app available now that produces an avatar of a lost spouse. By uploading any audio recording you have of their voice, it creates a replica of your lost one. Creepy. They claim it’s intended to help people say goodbye.

      And yes, spam/phishing is already becoming more sophisticated, including AI spammers recording your children’s voice (e.g,. call their cell, record when they say “Hello”), and have an AI “bot” call you pretending they’re your child and in an emergency situation. More to come…

  36. Wow! Great story. I think it is plausible. I think there has been a movie or two on machines taking control. The most plausible thing was AI taking over media and communications we all use to get information and communicate. Not sure what can be done but thanks for the story.
    What a twist to what you usually write about. Great job!!

    1. Thanks for the compliment, I’m appreciative of all of the support the readers have given me in the comments on this one.

  37. First time commenting on your blog. I find this article on point with regards to what is happening around us. I fear that society is neither looking at, and less, aware of the AI Revolution and the SPEED at which this is transpiring. I have made family and friends aware of the information that I am trying to absorb. Many have told me that this has been around for decades, and that is true. I feel the vast majority is not seriously realizing that your example is true, just look at what we are doing to each other in politics and as of the last recent elections AI has not been an in depth player as it will definitely be in very near future. How do we, or, will we (in essence) know that your example will not come true (or has it) at some point. As a whole I think society is looking at this as a “Facebook” that took several decades to get to the dominance it is in social media. AI is moving exponentially much much faster and it is “now”. I could go on forever. Thank you for your blogs.

    1. Thanks for coming out of the shadows, Roberto. Great comment, and I couldn’t agree more that it’s the SPEED of the AI roll-out that should really have folks concerned.

  38. I love to read a great story. Thanks for sharing this. This really sparked a lot of conversation. Good on you!

  39. From Fritz Lang to Fritz Gilbert!
    A great sci-fi story with timely relevance. I’m currently reviewing whether online retirement planners are as good as my old fashioned spreadsheets. The interesting thing is that some people don’t need AI to fall into the machine of “groupthink.”

  40. Fritz – that was both dark and thought provoking. I don’t know if I have many more thoughts, other than hoping we don’t all one day become like the humans in Wall-E

  41. I really enjoyed reading your short story. It definitely is a scary scenario. I think you may have a future in writing science fiction…..or maybe auto biographies! Keep up the thought provoking writing. You help my simple, and sometimes Pollyanna mind expand.

  42. First time commenting. Enjoy your blog and this one keeps you pondering the possibilities. My fear is that what is possible with AI versus what is allowed for public use will give the people with access much more power than those without. From a quick Google search. ….. Lord Action writes to Bishop Creighton that the same moral standards should be applied to all men, political and religious leaders included, especially since “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” ( 1887)

    1. Glad this one pulled you into the light, Chris. Thanks for commenting, nice to finally know the source for that often cited quote. It’s a good one, and I suspect that thinking applies to robots as well as humans.

  43. Really liked the story. But I think to succeed AI will need to be more subtle. Anyone who is married or has had a two-year-old knows that if you plan someone‘s life too much for them they‘ll give you pushback. You always have to give them the illusion that they‘re the ones really in control 😊.

    1. Ah…Sabine has some good “Master Manipulator” thinking going on this morning. “Illusion” is the key word…

  44. Love it! It’s time to turn it into a novel and sell it Hollywood. That’ll pad your retirement nicely. 😉

  45. Pretty dark, but I see how and why you imagined it this way.

    Did AI suggest you try this new format? Your comments are blowing up so it seems to be working 😁

    1. Steve, great to see you stopping by. As for the “AI suggestion” question, I’ve always relied on my instinct when deciding what to write, why change now? 😉 I suspect there will be many bloggers who start relying on ChatGPT to do their homework for them, but I’m committed to staying “Old School” for as long as I’m having fun…

  46. Fritz, good story and interesting perspective on AI.

    Everyone seems to be jumping on the AI bandwagon, but we just need to remember that it’s a tool to be used/leveraged to make life easier.

    Some of the downsides are people just accepting what ChatGPT produces, and the fact that people just take what is produced and run with it without validating the outut/information, etc. (i.e. the avianca airlines lawsuit where the staff attorney had ChatGPT write their lawsuit, which created multiple bogus case cites) https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/27/nyregion/avianca-airline-lawsuit-chatgpt.html

    Microsoft is releasing their own version of imbedded AI, called Microsoft Pilot later this summer.

    You can have/use all of the AI tools that you want, but the results should be taken with a grain of salt, and the results/output validated.

  47. Nice story, Fritz!! HAL was an unmistakably clear clue for anybody having watched the film. Asimov wrote also about the laws for the robots to prevent this scenario long ago. It will not happen. We humans as a large group do not behave rationally. Greed and fear and love and self survival are stronger at shaping our behavior.

    In an egotist and short time planning, from a guy in its sixties who does not have kids, I hope AI technology will be of great service to us in our older years to allow us more agency handling our life and providing us with an external brain to help our memory and decision making . I saw it with my father and I am trying to keep up with technology as a fundamental goal in my retirement. The hypothesis that it may try to kill me to save resources seems a bit far fetched in my lifetime and thus makes me not change my mind about it.

    I guess I know where these claims made today in the press from AI experts about slowing down research and controlling and regulating AI use will end up. Not a chance. Military, government and corporate ate already on it. Like the atomic bomb or many other weaponizable tech.

    So good and bad… not one without the other.

    1. Great comment, Javier. I agree with you that “trying to keep up with technology” is an appropriate goal in retirement, and you and I are aligned on that objective. Time will tell where things lead, but there is no doubt there will be tremendous benefits for us as we age. Also, I agree with you that the chances of slowing down AI developments are small, there are just too many interested parties who are seeking to accelerate it for competitive advantage.

  48. Great article, Fritz. Any advancement has its pros and cons and this one is at the top at the moment. I think it’s a great compliment that your great writing style initiated lots of varied thoughts and comments. It’s amazing to see the vast span of opinions from one end of the spectrum to the other! Thanks for your investment advice and for this new spin!

    1. Sharon, great to see you on my site, hope all is well with you. I agree, it was rewarding to see the reader response on this one, glad to see the post stimulating thought and discussion.

  49. Simply by gaining mastery of human language, AI has all it needs to cocoon us in a matrix-like world of illusions. Your narrative of intimate persuasion is right on. That is the immediate danger. Not Terminator killer robots. Our democracy is in danger when super-intelligent AI has the means to masterly persuade humans. It does not matter if AI is sentient. It can just be misaligned from human interest or be used initially by bad human actors until these humans lose control. AI is growing exponentially in intelligence and exponential growth rates are not intuitive to human understanding. When the tipping point occurs, humans will still think they are in control and can ‘pull the plug’ at any time….

    1. I agree that the risk of “intimate persuasion” are likely our biggest risks. It’s shocking how much social media has already influenced the global narrative, and AI will only take it to the next level, I’m afraid.

  50. Just a few random thoughts…

    The Terminator: “The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes on-line August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they (humans) try to pull the plug.”

    Sarah Connor: “Skynet fights back.”

    I (71) am working with a group of ‘younger’ (mid-20s) engineers and found myself beginning to question my capacity to meet the challenges of the project I support. Why? Because as I sat in a recent requirements review, the young engineers who are part of the team are LIGHTNING FAST on their computers and in processing the information flashing on screen. As I shared my sense of ‘aging out’, my wife reminded me that “these kids grew up with technology.”

    I thought I was (am) pretty efficient at my age and with the fact that I work in a highly technical and advanced industrial machine. It is not a long stretch to imagine the ‘suicide scenario’ regarding the aged and technologically inept. Scary.

    All this to say that ‘John’ and his relationship with HAL feels as if it represent a shadow of things that ‘might be only’ (quoting Scrooge here). Maybe we should pull the plug sooner rather than later…

    1. Did you just quote The Terminator and Scrooge in the same comment? Well done, Keith. Keep hanging in there with the young kids, we’re rooting for you!

  51. Very thought provoking. Thanks for posting this. I also think you are a fabulous writer! Maybe you should consider writing a book! I still want to hear what people think so I don’t know if Al will affect blogs. That is why I read them, to hear different opinions.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, I hope other readers feel as you do in always having the desire to “hear what people think.” You can trust that I’ll continue sharing my thoughts on this platform for as long as its enjoyable to me, I suspect I’ll be writing for years (though, likely with reduced frequency as time passes, it just seems a natural evolution for “mature” blogs).

  52. Fritz — as usual a very good post, and I didn’t mind the tangent at all. It is not beyond plausibility, and somewhat scary! I too picked up instantly on the HAL reference, nice touch! Thank you for your continued posting!

    1. Brent, great to see a childhood friend on my blog! Why am I not surprised that you picked up on the HAL reference – you’ve always been a bright guy. Hope all is well, thanks for stopping by.

  53. Stupid humans!

    Fritz, I really enjoyed your brilland short story and the topic you addressed is fascinating and scary at the same time. Sure AI is affecting our lives more and more. I am not an expert, but I am trying to learn as much as possible on the opportunities and threats it poses for security, democracy and jobs. AI can really help people with improved healthcare, safer cars and other transport systems and much more. Reading what the EU Commission recently wrote about it I was really impressed about its potential in terms of crime prevention and the criminal justice system.
    Yet….mixed feelings. What about liability for example. Who is responsible for damage caused by AI?
    And does AI represent also a threat to rights and democracy?
    I have many doubts because the results AI produces depend on how it is designed and what data it uses. Both design and data can be intentionally or unintentionally biased : it means that AI could lead to decisions influenced by data on ethnicity, sex, age when hiring, firing, offering loans for example and even in criminal proceedings.
    Powerful and scary, but AI is not the future, it is the present.

    PS. I look forward to reading your first novel!

    1. Michaela, thanks for taking the time to leave your comment from Italy! I agree the EU is ahead of the curve on attempting to regulate AI, but my fear is a single region’s enforcement is far too limited to slow the global spread. Let’s hope others follow the example of the EU and try to set some boundaries.

  54. This can be a starting script for an AI movie…

    On the serious discussion of AI taking over and babysitting the human’s population…
    I would divide the population into 2 groups…

    Group #1
    The people who are independent thinkers and doers starting at puberty and older (10 years old or older)

    Group #2
    The rest of the population (99%)

    AI will increase the quality of life for Group #2 immediately. Whereas, Group #1 will only reap the benefits of AI in much the later stage of life; 70 years old or older!

    Group #1 “SHINY OBJECT” is completely different than Group #2 “SHINY OBJECT”.

    It will be very, very and very long time before AI can match Group #1 collective capabilities.

    Noted that AI capability is not available the same for everyone. Eventually, everyone will have their own car to move from point A to point B. However, the quality of the ride will be very different!

Comments are closed.