Whether you're ready or not, AI is here and it's only going to get more commonplace. You may even have had recent encounters with AI and not given it a second thought. 


A definition of AI in the Britannica encyclopedia provides some clarity. “Artificial intelligence (AI) is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. The term is frequently applied to systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize, or learn from past experience.” (


So, how does this affect you? “Developments in artificial intelligence and human enhancement technologies have the potential to remake American society in the coming decades. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that Americans see promise in the ways these technologies could improve daily life and human abilities.”


Although most of us can see ways AI can be beneficial, there is a concern that we should tread carefully. “Caution runs through public views of artificial intelligence (AI) and human enhancement applications, often centered around concerns about autonomy, unintended consequences and the amount of change these developments might mean for humans and society. Views are varied and, for portions of the public, infused with uncertainty.” (


All of that said, examples of AI are cropping up all around us. For instance, as reported in last Wednesday's edition of the Cadillac News, Major League Baseball announced a change that affects the way the sport operates. In short, the old catcher's signals of “one finger for a fastball and two for a curve” may be a thing of the past. 


“MLB sent a memo advising teams about the approved usage of devices referred to within the industry as PitchCom. Using a pad with buttons on the wrist of the gloved hand, a catcher can signal pitches -- pitch type and location -- directly to the pitcher. You literally just press a button and it delivers the pitch call to the pitcher. It really improves pace of game." (


Hang on, though, because another more revolutionary innovation is in the works. “Robot umpires are likely coming to MLB at some point in the very near future, and they are just one step away in 2022. League officials have announced that robot umpires will be behind the plate at Triple-A games this season. The official name of this new program is called the “Automated Ball-Strike” system. Having a robot umpire is the biggest technological news in baseball.” (


MLB is trying to be more efficient, but an experiment in Italy is taking efficiency to the extreme. “Officials said they have enlisted the service of a robot dog to patrol the ancient ruins of the city of Pompeii, with the mechanical quadruped's duties including identifying safety issues and finding tunnels created by thieves.”


The robot dog, named Spot, was developed by an American company. Spot can go places unfit or unsafe for humans. It's also not a stretch to imagine robot dogs on patrol and identifying criminal activity in a city near you. (


On the less serious side of AI, how about a drone that delivers chicken wings? “Flytrex, a leader in on-demand drone delivery for food and retail, announced the expansion of its drone delivery service to Holly Springs, North Carolina. Flytrex has begun delivering food orders via drone to front and backyards.” 


It works like this. A customer can order chicken wings from a local participating restaurant via the Flytrex app. “The app will update customers regarding their order status along the route until the package is lowered by wire safely into their front or backyards.” (


Not AI enough for you? How about a hamburger vending machine? “A company called RoboBurger sells a machine that will make you a burger with custom toppings in six minutes. The RoboBurger is a whole kitchen shoved into twelve square feet. The company sees RoboBurgers going to bars, college campuses, airports, hospitals, and rest stops.” (


So, how do you get one of these? "A touch screen allows you to order a classic burger with ketchup, mustard and cheese, or customize the burger to remove any of those ingredients. The robot places the patty on a griddle and grills it on both sides.

It toasts the bun and adds the condiments. Then it assembles the burger and delivers it to the diner in a cute cardboard box.” It's fascinating to see this contraption in action. See at:


If all of this futuristic information is giving you a headache, the good news is there may be a simple cure. It turns out the “good old days” may be better than you thought. “The next time you feel aches or soreness, you might consider skipping the pain reliever and reaching instead for an old photo. Nostalgia – that sentimental feeling of longing for the past – can reduce pain perception.” 


Who would have guessed that reminiscences could be powerful medicine? “Researchers found that observing pictures that brought back childhood memories was linked to participants reporting weaker feelings of pain. And it’s not just old photos that can lead to positive responses due to nostalgia – music, movies, stories, or the taste of certain foods can also trigger these. All these nostalgia triggers could prove to be useful in the future for providing cheap, easily accessible pain management tools to people.” (


I can visualize the future now. You sit under a tree fondly remembering past times while listening to a radio broadcast of a game where robots call the balls and strikes. Meanwhile, as you relax in the shade, a drone swoops in and drops a bag of chicken wings in your lap. Life is good, eh?


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and