AI Wrangling

When I was growing up, if you had told me I was going to be an “AI wrangler” as an adult, I would’ve thought that was the coolest thing ever. Artificial intelligence? Robots? Sign me up!

There’s nothing like the truth of adulthood to shatter a kid’s dreams.

Maybe, once upon a time, working with AI was a bleeding-edge field. Something to get you up every morning. Really creating, really innovating. Every day a new discovery. But that was about two decades ago. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of majoring in AI studies without realizing the shift over my lifetime.

Now I spent three-quarters of my day filling out reports. Running elementary tests over and over again as the AI routines cultivate themselves in the premade incubators we bought from Cytech. If anything shows up anomalously, I get to apply my education and intellect to… actually, I’m just kidding. I file a ticket off to Cytech support who logs in to fix whatever and I continue on my day.

I think I’ve had an actual conversation at work maybe three times since I started work here six months ago. There’s only a few of us in the “lab” and there’s not much need to talk. We all do the same thing and nothing really changes. We’re all fairly introverted or we would have found a different place to work. I think one of them is named Sandy? Or Sammy?

At first, it was fun to watch the little customer-friendly traces run around on the screen, giving some life to the complex and arcane computations happening inside the incubators. Eventually, though, you realize that they’re just pre-packaged animations dancing around with some seeding from the current AI state. They get in loops and patterns and they all blend together.

Which was why I was kind of surprised when I logged in one morning and the icons were very clearly arranged into letters: