February 29th, 2024

City Notebook: Still here in ’24, despite AI

By COLLIN GALLANT on December 30, 2023.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

“Why don’t you spellcheck?” is a question sometimes left on my phone, written in all-caps to my email or occasionally yelled from a passing car.

It’s a good question with a surprising answer.

We do spell check, but having written the equivalent of a high school or university term paper each day on a variety of topics, sometimes there-their are slip-ups.

Really, it’s a signal of human intelligence at work, as opposed to that artificial kind we keep hearing about.

As fallible as it might be, there is a human behind it.

Really, aren’t there greater problems in the world than a sentence ended with a preposition (which no one actively complains about anymore)?

Every person on Earth is at the mercy of their phone correcting texts with bizarre suggestions.

This proves that spellcheck is not to be relied upon.

Case in point, two elected officials in this area routinely have their correctly spelled last names changed to “turpentine” and “humanoid” when word-processors make a best guess.

Likewise, the province right next door becomes “Kitchenware” and if you miss a letter in “Christmas,” one problematic suggestion is “masochist.”

This all comes as we prepare to ring in 2024 – almost one quarter century since Y2K when technology was supposed to collapse and potentially end this great human experiment.

It also comes as every single person has some severe concerns about artificial intelligence, yet are too blasé to do anything about it. Soon, it’s feared, AI will just be another aggravating fact of life.

As for good old natural intelligence, let’s perhaps raise a cup of kindness yet this weekend for auld lang syne?

Old and new

Worried about life moving too fast? What’s old was new in some of Medicine Hat’s memorable events in 2023.

Exciting hockey, or more accurately an exciting atmosphere at hockey games returned.

It’s delusional to say about Co-op Place that it’s the “Loudest barn in the Dub” like Hatters used to brag about the Medicine Hat Arena (while also somehow complaining).

But, uber-prospect Connor Bedard filled it up for a party-like Saturday night last winter. An unclaimed 50-50 ticket brought the fans back for the next game.

A B17 bomber visited the city as part of a fundraiser for local flying groups and provided quite a sight skimming the treetops in late June.

Last year’s seed pods caused brief flooding throughout the city in May after heavy rain drove them from branches and blocked storm sewers on the South Hill and Crescent Heights. Geez, weird weather this year.

Zellers returned to Medicine Hat after a viral marketing campaign which turned out to be one of the more underwhelming stories in history of retail. It is technically in one corner of the Bay.

In other corporate news, the “Shaw Fire Log” became the “Rogers Fire Log” this holiday season. How is that for progress?

A look ahead

City council will not meet again until Jan. 15, its only meeting of the month. Further on the horizon, the annual State of the City address will be held Tuesday, Jan. 23.

The Alberta NDP are planning a Jan. 31 meeting to discuss Alberta’s participation in the Canada Pension Plan. At about the same time, the Medicine Hat Utility Ratepayers Association is planning a charter meeting for the group promising to challenge city hall on utility fees and spending.

100 years ago

“The passing of the old year and the dawning of the new, marked by the passing of an invisible boundary where mistakes, failures and disappointments of the past are left behind and the untrod path, offers surcease from the past and hope for the future,” read the News editorial on Dec. 31, 1923.

It concludes: “Time will remove many of the difficulties with which this country is faced and an attitude of hope and confidence on the part of its people will go far to surmount the other obstacles to national prosperity.”

Premier Greenfield embarked for Ottawa to conclude negotiations and sign a final agreement to transfer control of natural resources in the province to Alberta.

Quebec opposed the suggestion of a canal and power agreement along the St. Lawrence river as it may prove detrimental to the port of Montreal.

Alberta Clay Products was the only sewer pipe plant west of Ft. William to survive a post-war economic decline, the News boomed, and now controlled the entire market west of the Great Lakes.

Collin Gallant covers city politics and a variety of topics for the News. Reach him at 403-528-5664 or via email at cgallant@medicinehatnews.com.

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