I’m here for my annual pilgrimage!
It is time for me to say “it’s that time of the year” and make that customary anniversary post, as I started this blog 9 years ago, around this time!
Even though I don’t publish posts here or post on social media, this blog has been an integral part of my journey and boy, what a journey that has been!
Standing at this point, looking back and scoping forward, I can see that we as a society are standing at a fascinating intersection in the human timeline.
Years ago, when I started to actively travel, mobile internet was still an ‘expensive’ affair for a broke backpacker. Plus, not all those places in India had great internet connectivity. So relying on Google Maps or a fast internet wasn’t an active part of my travelling, just yet.
One of my best travelling memories was from around 2010 or 2011 when I travelled with a friend around Tamil Nadu, a southern state in India, by following random destination names that were written in bold letters on a paper map that we bought from a roadside shop that sold everything from toffee to a person’s monthly grocery items. Those were indeed much simpler times compared to what we are living in now. And it was not that long ago. Or at least that is what I feel like.
Once upon a time, I had waited 10 to 15 minutes, at times even more, for dial-up internet to make some weird noises which to me sounded as if it was passing through some wormhole that connected some strange galaxies together and then wait some more, for a small long rectangle to fill an iconic blue colour from one end to another inside the mighty internet explorer!
Even though it was kind of an inch-long box, it took an eternity to get from one side to another and when it did after multiple attempts it would show a page like Yahoo.com and that too with boxes of missing images and failed flash animations.
And yet, now I complain if an HD video doesn’t load as soon as I click on the thumbnail. I guess it is true for you as well if my site didn’t load within the first 3 seconds!
So do you now think the pace of life has gotten faster?
(And I know probably some of you don’t have the patience to read this long post too. But that is okay)
It is no secret that as a society we may be slowly getting addicted to instant gratification and faster results with lesser work. With technological advancements, it is all actually possible too.
You could write a whole blog post on a popular topic within a minute, get an image created for the same, in the next minute and just like a 2-minute noodles, you’d have a keyword-rich blog post on any desired popular topics!
With the massive availability of data on any topic imaginable, wherever you’re in the world, you’d be standing in the middle of an information highway with millions of data packets passing through you at a lightning-fast pace. With the availability of infrastructure and analytical capabilities, we are now able to tame these raw data and domesticate them for easy use by anyone with an internet connection.
Machine Learning and Artificial intelligence are not some new topics that were introduced just a few years ago. Those concepts were being studied from 1940’s or even before that. The study of a mathematical model for neural networks and Alan Turin’s famous Turin test to see if machines have intelligence were all happened before 1960!
Many of its applications were part of our lives even if we knew about it or not. When Amazon started suggesting product recommendations, it was Machine learning at work. When YouTube auto-played your next favourite song it was ML at work. But still, Machine learning and Artificial intelligence were mainly for the so-called nerds and high achievers.
Even a few years ago, only those people who heard the magic phrases “Data is the new oil” and ‘Data science is the sexiest job of the 21st century’ and decided to get on board with Data Science studies would have gotten into ML and AI either while looking to get into a Kaggle competition or when thinking about upgrading their knowledge on a MOOC looking for Andrew Ng’s Machine Learning course or similar.
But it is only a few months ago – November 30, 2022 – to be exact, everyone started talking about Artificial intelligence as if they were talking about the weather, news and politics!
They were talking about ChatGPT – a genie with all the answers that you’re seeking!
When more and more people started hearing about a website that could give intelligent answers to one’s stupidest questions, the news spread like wildfire. Everyone wanted to try ChatGPT and it was FREE to try! Within a couple of months it crossed 100 million active users.
Finally, people could talk to the computer in their own language and access its infinite computing power unlike the previous situation where you had to learn some complex languages with numbers and symbols to get advanced computations done.
Complex computations just became easy now!
It was a culmination of many things. The existence of massive amounts of data, cheaper internet, compact yet powerful infrastructure setup, economical operational abilities and so much more played a part in making AI ubiquitous.
Just like nuclear fusion is the reason behind a nuclear power plant and an A-bomb, the immense power of AI in the hands of a common man can be used for both creativity and deception. However, the ease of accessibility makes it easier for a creative deception!
During the latter part of my 9 years of having a travel blog, I’ve encountered some strange requests. Someone once offered me money to create a personal travel blog for them from my travel experiences.
In recent years, with the rise of ‘influencing’ the general public with your ‘content’ and getting rewarded for it, more and more people are getting attracted towards this new job title of becoming a content creator, even though some of them believe in not needing to have any original content.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s probably because of the addiction towards instant gratification and faster results through quicker routes.
I don’t know what happened with that person who asked me to create a false world for them, as I politely declined the request. But things are different now. You could now ask ChatGPT and it would give you everything you need and want!
Starting a travel blog doesn’t even require you to travel, if you have the power of AI. You can also create images to support your stories just by using some text prompts.
Earlier people used to say ‘it’s photoshopped’, looking at a dodgy image. You needed to have a certain level of expertise to create something decent. But now, with the power of trillions and more data points, a simple text prompt can create or generatively fill photo-realistic outputs that can probably pass a mini ‘Turin test’ by an unsuspecting reader.
Sitting on the beaches of Goa, I could create an Antarctic expedition experience and post a selfie with penguins with the help of AI. You wouldn’t know, would you?
On the other hand, I could actually create even more interesting travel memories by asking AI to be my travel companion and to suggest my next destination marked in bold letters – a clear creative upgrade from the paper map days. It could be a creative use of AI while travelling.
But trusting everything that you see and consume on a day-to-day basis is going to be a big issue in the coming days. People can write books and publish them without needing a lot of original thoughts. People can write “personal” travel stories without even leaving their houses.
At the same time, people can build a business without having a lot of experience. People can write codes and build websites and do so many things which once they were unable to do because of a lack of a mentor or an instructor.
A coin, yin and yang, day and night, dark and light, the concept of duality, all of these tell us the same thing. It says Terminator is the killing machine who also saves the son of Sarah Connor who then becomes the leader of the resistance!
It’s got two sides and we just have to decide which side we need to be on!
So the 9-year journey with this blog has been great and I’m sure with the help of AI or without it, the journey ahead is also going to be exciting.
Before I leave, I want to ask you, what pros and cons are you expecting in the world of blogging with the arrival of easily accessible artificial intelligence? How would you use it?
PS : I’ve asked AI to write a 9 year anniversary blog post. Want to see the prompt and output? I’m going to send it out. If you’re interested in reading that, sign up for the newsletter below. I am going to revamp my old newsletter and send you the latest (and sometimes older) stories straight to your inbox.