It’s the end of 2022. Our lives have changed and buckled and veered right at the last moment. We have stepped out of pandemic waters weak-kneed and hesitant. There has been division and hot heads and a clear reset. But even as I write this, I see out my window in the snowy cold a man and woman holding hands as they walk the dog. Many of us raised our children with great expectations and shuffled them into the BEST schools and pushed them towards what we saw as the coveted jobs… Doctor, Lawyer, Pilot, Astronaut, Financial Wizard, CEO. The generation walked willingly towards that future that held high hopes and shiny suits and lavish parties.
Enter AI… Artificial Intelligence. The internet, Social Media, Computer Generated government-run branches and digital music.
Hey, progress is good! We know this. It’s a different future and people get left behind, but we know the future carries promise and possibility like we have not known before. It frees us up… To have more time… To do what?
The more I work as a real estate agent, the more I realize that with all the AI in the universe working towards replacing my job, it can’t. Digital companies can try. They can push forward all the information. They can put it in the very bedrooms of my best clients. One of my buyers told me some information about an old sale of a property that we were looking at that even I had not found. That is the result of whirring massive memory storage spewed out onto the tiny computer we all carry around all day.
AI cannot replace me… There is an element of human interaction that cannot be mimicked. We all carry this into our jobs every day. There is an art and a beauty to restoring the window frame in an old-school building that cannot be measured or replaced by a computer. There is the wood worker who scrubs it and oils it and doesn’t finish until it is perfect and with a drop of inspiration on a summer day during lunch break, he adds a slight flair in the wood that frames the window perfectly and lets the light glint and reflect softly at exactly 2:17pm inside on the walls.
There is a make-up counter woman at Shoppers Drug Mart who tells me that my hair colour is stunning and so many women are trying to find it exactly in a bottle. She changes my day… I smile and thank her and I will come back again, of course. There is a beautiful original music band made up of drums and bass and guitar that plays wildly in a small red bar on The Danforth at 4:30 pm on a Sunday afternoon. The music that emanates through the room is languid and leading and joyful and sweet. It can’t be duplicated because the guitar player sometimes plays the wrong notes or the drummer uses the standing lamp as a cymbal and we love it… And we respond as our hearts fill.
There is a real estate agent who drives on Christmas Eve to turn on the lights at her client’s house to let in a buyer who is only in town for 2 days and has to find a place before she leaves… Storm or no storm. The real estate agent’s car is snowed in, but her neighbour shovels her out… His big heart… So much snow.
There is a chef who creates a masterpiece for dinner for her husband and daughter… She minces the anise just so thinly and rasps the lemon and just before serving, she has a thought… ”Won’t this be nice… with just a dusting of saffron?” Never made before… Prepared with love and a little pain and always work… Not AI…
Cannot be AI.
The reality of our lives and our jobs is that, yes, we can make them easier or faster with computer generated help. But the sweet and achingly beautiful truth is that the moments… The small things… The slight smile at a work coffee machine… The hug at the end of the deal… The extra mile from the car salesman… The intuitive reasoning from the mortgage agent… The craftsmanship of the plastered ceiling… The extra little bit of saffron… These are the things that define us. These are the things that make us irreplaceable.
You are irreplaceable.