If the robots don't kill us, scammers probably will

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

MAY 3 — I read recently about how poorly done AI translations have jeopardised asylum applications by refugees.

What happened? Apparently rather than hire real translators, agencies have been using automated machine translation that were cheaper but also far less accurate.

I feel sometimes that the loud protests about the dangers of wholesale AI usage go unheard in the cacophony of capitalist excitement of how much time and money will be saved.

Speed should never be prioritised over accuracy and machines are only as smart as the ones who created them, so if people need oversight why shouldn't the machines?

It is hard to argue that in a time where people expect instantaneous answers to their questions and get antsy when someone doesn't immediately reply to their WhatsApp messages.

My parents probably have the right way of it. Neither reply me immediately unless they were the ones initiating the conversation.

Getting replies only after a day is pretty much par for the course with my mother, which is weirdly reassuring as it reflects what my adult relationship with my parents is like ― no pressure and zero anxiety.

There is no “when are you calling” but instead random questions “how is the weather” or daily updates “I'm at your sister's today.”

I think that's what technology should have become ― a way to augment our daily lives, without becoming something to live our lives around.

The writer says technology has made scamming easier. ― iStock pic
The writer says technology has made scamming easier. ― iStock pic

The writer says technology has made scamming easier. ― iStock pic

What is most annoying about technology to me is how it has made scamming easier.

My yard is threatening to return to Nature and so I ordered a cheap brush clearing device. It was only after a friend complained about being scammed online where a seller claimed an OEM product was by a Japanese brand, that I checked my order.

Perhaps my eyes were just bad ― but I missed the small logo in the ad claiming that my order was of German make.

I hadn't been duped by that, technically, knowing full-well it was one of the generic China-made products sold on the market often resold and rebadged with various Chinese branding.

It seems however that the shopping platform has a reputation for turning a blind eye to the sale of items making fraudulent claims of being made by certain brands.

The reasoning is unless the seller has displayed the platform’s authentic guarantee on the listing, everything else is just a case of buyer beware.

Just the other day I stopped by a local chainstore known for its low prices for bathmats ― my pets find them convenient places to upchuck their dinners ― and noticed headphones that were obviously a knockoff of Sony's, using the same packaging, design and brand colours.

Instead of Sony's name, however, the manufacturer had used some other name so technically it wasn't a scam as there was no pretence these were Sony headphones.

Still, isn't design also something copyrighted? But shoddy knockoffs are apparently fine so long as they don't outright pretend to be by the brand they're shamelessly copying.

It's why I prefer to shop at Daiso.

The stuff is cheap and cheerful but the packaging and product is unmistakably Daiso's ― even if they are cheaper versions of stuff sold elsewhere, and as many of its items are limited runs, even if you buy a RM5.90 item, you might never see that exact item available again a couple of years later.

I think that's what sets international brands like Daiso's apart ― a certain expected standard and I wish I could see that in local businesses.

Until then I'll be busy dealing with a jungle-like lawn, a cluttered kitchen and all the boxes I accumulated trying to remedy both.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.