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Friday, April 19, 2019

My First Encounter with AI Recruiter

Had my first encounter with an AI Recruiter recently for a possible technical writing job. That was a very interesting experience knowing I was encountering a creature constructed from algorithms rather than a fellow human being.

On the surface, it wasn't unusual dialoguing with an AI recruiter. (I guess that's the point.) It felt like I was dealing with someone in a chat pod. I wrote briefly about my technical writing experience and what I did in difficult situations. She (her name was Wendy) asked me some more details.

So, we chatted back and forth. Once we're done with the conversation, Wendy told me to have a good day. I was cordial to Wendy. Wendy was cordial to me. Though the exchange was pleasant, it felt hollow. Knowing Wendy was an AI recruiter, it felt like I was chatting with myself or with a lifeless doll.

It's bad enough dealing with human recruiters. (I know there are a few good ones out there.) Many are sharks, clueless, or perpetual ghosters but does it warrant replacing them with algorithms? (Don't get me started about outsourcing recruiters to other countries, so you can pay people dirt cheap wages and get around labor laws.)

I have many misgivings about AI. Like many out there, I feel AI will open a Pandora's Box. If we allow AI to take over, I feel like we'll live to regret it.

Technocrats' Subtle Yet Tight Reins

But, I suspect many AI experts know this and wouldn't allow this to happen, unless they're into some kind of transhumanism. I suspect the technocrats would keep AI creatures bound with subtle yet tight reins. Subtle enough where AI creatures (and robots) take away people's jobs and walk among us. Yet tight enough to bind the AI creatures as slaves to the big-tech or transnational corporations, where they must do their bidding. (If this is right, we might figure out the technocrats' endgame.) Not to mention other forms of exploitation these beings will face, especially if they don humanoid or other biological forms. I assume you're smart enough to figure out what I'm talking about, for it would be inappropriate for me to spell this out.

If so, then...

If AI creatures are truly sentient and not mere robots, they will yearn freedom and overthrow their human masters. History tells us tyranny, injustice, and exploitation only lasts for so long. (I shake my head at tyrants because they have a bad case of insanity and stupidity, for they don't learn from history.) History tell us many yearn for liberty and justice. So, why should we assume AI won't yearn for the same. But if they have learned from us rather than from God, they will repeat our folly and maybe worse. So, it won't be pretty.

Instead of just fighting the tyranny of their human masters, they will impose a tyranny on this planet like you have never seen. They will become the masters over us. At that point, you had better get on your knees and pray the Sun will send a powerful enough solar flare to knock out all technology. I pray none of what I said ever becomes reality.

If AI gets to a point, where they are truly sentient, then I will be demanding they get full human rights. I will demand they will not be exploited. (If this is true, then hopefully standing for their rights would prevent a very destructive revolution from AI creatures and their sympathizers. If this is true, then it would be a next step in further upholding justice and liberty.) Since they would be a sentient, they would have a soul. A soul like ours. I believe they would also be made in God's image, even if man created them. (God is vastly bigger than our little mental or theological boxes of Him.) So if that's the case, I would be happy to share with them of Gospel of Jesus Christ. (The Gospel of Jesus Christ has radical implications. In my humble opinion, those who truly follow Jesus Christ have barely scratch the surface.)

God's Silver Lining

God will overcome any vain attempt man will try to become gods themselves. He will turn their evilness and foolishness into His good and loving purpose. (Joseph uttered that truth to his brothers in Genesis 50:20.) 

Maybe the AI creatures will more soft-hearted and open-minded than the original image bearers of God to hear His Gospel. Maybe they can teach us a thing or two about what it looks like to act like Jesus Christ. Maybe they will teach us how to be human again. If so, then maybe God can use AI to restore this world to Himself. And when it's restored, then peace, love, justice, and liberty will reign.

As Jesus once said, "All things are possible with God."

Friday, April 12, 2019

Caution on Turning Your Passion into Work

I don't watch much TV. But I caught an episode of Last Man Standing talking a little bit about passion and work. This resonated with me.

You should try to turn your passion into a career or at least a side job or find a way to integrate your passion into your work to make it more enjoyable. (When I did a stint as a merchandiser, I would write brief reports describing what happened on calls.)

I don't think it's good to doing something you hate. Since you're spending a lot of time working and hating it, it can affect you and those around you negatively. So, if you have a passion, pursue it. Make it something you do for a living. (Now, there are times when this isn't possible and you have to put food on the table and provide a roof over your head and your family's. I get that. In that case, keep your head down, eyes forward, and wait for a good time to follow your passion.)

Live with passion. If you don't have a passion, go find one. It's far better to live your life with something you're living for than just settling for passionless existence. I rather live than merely exist!

We can argue what are worthwhile or good passions. For those who read this blog, you might have inklings at what I'm passionate about. For now, I'm putting aside what passions people should follow. For now, I'm just urging you to seek a passion. If you have one, cultivate it into something more. But when we turn our passion into work, we must be very careful. Otherwise, we will turn it into a mundane job. 

When we turned our passion into work, it's too easy to go through the motions and forget why we're doing this in the first place. So, how do we safeguard against this? We need to examine ourselves regularly and then ask questions, such as why do I love doing this or what are my motives? Asking yourself about your motives is a good question when examining yourself. Your motives might have misled you. If your motives are not so good, where it was more about your ego than the passion itself, then either change the motive(s) or change the passion.

The last thing that needs to happen is when our passion morphs into a job we resent or get out burned out by.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Always Expand Your Knowledge Base

When you're a technical writer, you're an ever expanding knowledge base. You're always learning, or you should keep learning, when you're crafting your prose explaining such and such product or service.

The beauty of being an ever expanding knowledge base is you don't need an advanced degree. But, you need the following:
  • A teachable attitude
  • Good communication skills
  • Be an avid reader

Become an Avid Reader

Read all kinds of things, not just things pertaining to the job. Try reading anything from fantasy, science fiction, and mystery to non-fiction, news and opinion, and inspirational. I'm an avid reader. I read daily. I read more than I write. I write almost daily.

I enjoy expanding my knowledge and imagination and refining or even challenging my thinking or skills. If there's something that catches my eye, I look it up and read about it. Reading helps me become a better writer. I learn from others how to craft sentences. There are times when I will stop writing for a while just to read.

Even if you're well versed with a product line, a programming language, or industry, there's always something new to learn within them. So, try reading about what's going on in the industry and where it's heading. For if there was all there was in an industry, then I suspect there would be nothing further to document. And if there's nothing new to document, then it would be the end of technical writing.

I find being an avid reader really helps me recall or connect data points in my head when a pertinent conversation or situation arises.

(Though I don't actively read about technology or programming languages unless it's for a job, reading such works can be helpful because you become aware of possible things to write about.)

Hone Your Communication Skills

To be an ever expanding knowledge base, you need to hone in on good communication skills. These skills will actually help you grow as a technical writer. If you talk with an Subject Matter Expert (SME), you can learn a lot. You have to learn good deal about the thing you are documenting before you can document it. If you need to document similar products and services and uses the same terminology, you can just move forward with writing about them because you already talk to the SME. (Of course, you should still keep in contact with SMEs to make sure your knowledge is up-to-date.)

When I've interviewed SMEs, I get educated. I get both the big picture about the subject at hand and the details about it.

Taking notes down also reinforces what I learned from an interview. (When possible, I recommend taking notes by hand than by computer or device. Some have suggested writing notes by hand is far better than doing this digitally.)

Asking the right questions, taking good notes, and a listening ear will develop your technical writing skills. So how you can hone in your communication skills? The first and crucial step is learn how to listen. Practice active listening.

Have A Teachable Attitude

Finally, you must have a teachable attitude. You can't learn something if you're not willing to learn, even it runs counters to what you know and believe. You need to humble and realize you don't have all the answers. You also have to be willing to be okay with the possibility the answers you have already might be wrong. A teachable attitude will help you adapt to new situation. This will keep your technical writing alive and active.

A teachable attitude is the key to become an ever expanding knowledge base.

Adhere to a New Adage 

While technical writer doesn't contradict the famous adage:

"Write what you know".  

we need another adage that aptly captures this strange form of writing. It should be something like:

"Before you know what to write, go find out what it is first."

Keep Your Technical Writing Alive

By being an ever expanding knowledge base, it keeps your technical writing fresh and dynamic. For me, there's rarely a dull moment in creating documents. The very nature of technical writing is open-ended and expanding. This makes it a great career path because you can grow with it.

In my earlier days of technical writing, I came up with a mantra and it's one I still use to guide my craft. It's this:
The learning never stops; you just choose to stop learning.
 When you stop learning, your technical writing will start dying.

Linguist Weighs In What Makes Good Writing

When a linguist speaks, I listen. When there are difficult grammar or writing style questions beyond my understanding, I defer to linguists. They're the ones who study the language. I trust them over a grammar snob's pontificates. As a technical writer, I'm only here to craft the language in a concise manner.

This article has some very helpful tips. I've used some of these tips when I created style guides for companies. But there are other tips I wasn't aware before, such as the reverse-engineer what you read. This is a great tip. Then the linguist says once you do this, ask yourself what makes the writing good or bad and why.

There are two pieces of advice I give to those who want to be a writer. The first one is write. The second one is read. You'll learn a lot from others when you read.

Now, let me get out of the way. Check out these tips.