I was in school one day and there was a substitute teacher in my class. For the sake of anonymity, I will refer to him as Mr. John. Mr. John was usually cool, but there was always something about him that made me uncomfortable. When he hands out the assignment for the classes he substitutes for, he brings us into conversations, then by the end of each class, Mr. John leaves a note saying how loud everyone is and how nothing got done in class even though it was him starting it.
It was one of those days where everything was going wrong and I wasn’t in the mood for Mr. John to set the class up for failure, so I ignored him until I completed my assignment. I finished with about ten minutes remaining in the school day. Seeing I was done, Mr. John decided to drag me into a conversation. He asked me what I did over break.
“I was working,” I responded.
“Where do you work?” He asked, curious. He was towering over me, with his bald head shining in the fluorescent light.
“I work at the newspaper.”
“Why would you work at a place based on a dying art?” He asked with contempt in his voice.
I waited a bit before answering him back, trying to find the words to explain, “With this job opportunity, I will be further ahead than those graduating college for what I want to do.”
“What do you want to do?”
“I want to be a book editor.”
“You’re working at the newspaper so you can go into another dying art? To a job that a computer can do?”
At that point, I had no response to his questions. Not because I agreed, but because his questions were so shockingly rude and inaccurate, I didn’t know how to make him understand. Now I do. Computers don’t feel. They don’t read for context. They can’t tell what you’re thinking or what you want the audience to feel. They simply don’t have the coding for being human (yet). Book editors can edit printed books, e-books, blog posts, anything they want. They can find the words to describe something so perfectly, that when someone reads the work that the editor helped shape, the reader feels something only that author was able to write and that editor was able to capture. Something so deep it’s indescribable. Editors have power. In a way, they are the gods of literature.
When a computer or a machine can do that instead of saying “you have a misspelled word” or “you have the wrong punctuation” or even giving a wrong instruction on how to fix something, then I will agree that computers can do most of the job.
However, a computer cannot feel. It only has as much knowledge as we do. Therefore, no matter how much coding we use to improve the intelligence of a machine, it is only that; a machine, and a tool. No matter how much I wanted to explain this to Mr. John, I didn't have the words. How could I ever argue with someone who doesn't have a valid point?
Edited by: Laurel Copes