What’s wrong with this picture? (If you’re a computer, don’t answer.)

Even Watson had his 15 minutes of fame.

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.

 – Albert Einstein

 

Now customers can utilize the same brainpower to help do their taxes as doctors use to help diagnose cancer. Is this a great thing? Just wondering…

On the surface, it sounds quite intriguing. Underneath the surface it sounds a bit … scary.

Watson is an artificial intelligence computer that was developed by IBM. IBM is reportedly now looking to develop its artificial intelligence technology into a multi-billion dollar business. That’s fine. Even Staples and Macys are jumping onto the Watson bandwagon to help guide shoppers through stores.

However, does anyone else have a problem with the concept of needing artificial intelligence to help professionals navigate through their tax preparation, as offered by a major tax preparer? What about the millions of people who do their taxes on their own. Is our human intelligence no longer adequate enough to properly prepare our taxes? If so, is using artificial intelligence the answer?

As a person who used to develop computer applications that facilitated trading on the floor of the stock exchanges, I can certainly appreciate the benefits of technology. But should we need technology in all aspects of our lives?

Years ago I went to a high school dance that matched you with a partner picked by computer. The concept was new and exciting. The results, not so much. If that was the best date that a computer could find for me, I would say the computer had a lot to learn about chemistry, human nature, and compatibility. I guess today artificial intelligence makes this more likely, and perhaps may be useful for Match.com or other online dating services. Human compatibility and attraction is an extremely complex matter. And, when I think about it, Watson may have some useful things to say in this area.

But, let’s think about the combination of Watson and tax preparation. What is this actually saying to the public? That it is now helpful – or even necessary – to have the tremendous brainpower of a top artificial intelligence computer to best complete your tax return?

Ok. Am I the only one who thinks that something is wrong here?

Maybe in the not too distant future we will all have miniature Watsons as part of our wristwatches. That way, whenever we need help combing our hair, buttoning our shirt, or selecting out socks, help will never be too far away. But what if we are running late for work and the network crashes? Maybe when the network comes back up, our wristwatch can help us come up with an innovative excuse for our boss as to why we were late for work.

Yes, there are a couple of issues here. Do we need Watson to help us figure it all out?

 

 

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