You could be forgiven for thinking we currently live in an Issac Asimov-inspired world, given the recent headlines about how artificial intelligence (AI) is going to take over your job.
And, it’s true that some jobs will be replaced by new technology – but that’s nothing new. For centuries, something else has arrived and upset the existing order.
I’m not even talking about the past 50 years – do you think the invention of the spinning jenny in the 18th century was greeted warmly by those who were manually employed to spin cotton?
I work in an industry where, theoretically, I should be worried this time. The arrival of ChatGPT seems to spell the death knell for people who play with words for a living. After all, enter the prompt: “write a 500-word blog post about the threat of artificial intelligence to those working in the creative industries” and it spits out a coherent, fairly well-written piece. Continue reading “Why are you so scared of AI?”
Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of the use of language and how small changes can drastically alter the meaning or the tone of what’s being said.
In advance of Boris Johnson appearing before the Select Committee who will determine whether he misled parliament, I was struck by one particular phrase that the ex-Prime Minister used in the dossier of evidence that he presented.
In point 4 of the introduction, it says:
…I accept that the House of Commons was misled by my statements…
What’s notable about that sentence is that he uses the passive voice. Basically, Boris Johnson is admitting he told a fib/lie/untruth (whatever you want to call it), but the way he phrases it, means that he doesn’t explicitly take responsibility. Continue reading “The cowardice of the passive voice”
I stumbled across an article last week, mentioning a term that was new to me, yet simultaneously enraged me: Xennial.
Apparently, Xennials are people who straddle the Generation X and Millennial generations – born between 1977 and 1983.
The term has been ‘invented’ specifically to accommodate a group of people who don’t feel as if they fit into the X or Millennial bucket…
And this neatly sums up my irritation with the lazy way we ‘label’ people and why it has to end.
Let’s just examine this for a second: you take a group of around 7m people (in the UK) who were born between the mid-1960s and early-1980s and apparently they’re all meant to think and do things in the same way?
This group covers people who would have experienced punk at the age of 13, as well as those who experienced Pulp’s Common People and Oasis’ Roll With It at the same age.
How can they be similar?
Baby Boomers are no different. My mum is at the front end of the so-called Boomer generation, who turned down tickets to see The Beatles live. A fellow boomer at a comparable age would had to turn down a Duran Duran gig.
Like each other? I think not…
And yet these ‘buckets’ of people are used widely – and very often pejoratively – to describe how the UK acts and thinks.
Millennials are regularly tarred with the ‘lazy’ brush, for some inexplicable reason. Boomers are all rich, while Gen X-ers are sceptical risktakers.
As data allows us to be more nuanced about what people think and want, can we not expunge these lazy, wholly-inaccurate phrases from our language?