by Ben Johnson, February 13, 2023
Ben Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the adult services manager at the Council Bluffs Public Library in Iowa.
You can ask Google, Alexa, Cortana, Watson, or Siri—but will you be able to ask your local library? A century or so ago, electricity was a new, quasi-magical thing—a novelty with few applications. Back then, nobody could have predicted that it would give rise to telephones, production lines, and microchips. And yet, electricity transformed every industry, including agriculture, healthcare, transportation, and manufacturing. As a foundational springboard for so many new innovations, that novelty was the most important engineering achievement of the 20th century.
Today, our interactions with AI are mostly novel (“Siri, why did the chicken cross the road?”)—and the results crude—but so were the first lightbulbs and photographs.