I’ve been talking about AI a lot lately, I mean a lot, explaining that it’s a teenager that needs guidance. I’ve gotten to the point where our AI technology, MAGgie, has become an almost human virtual assistant, helping me be more efficient and productive every day. I’ve started to wonder where the line between human and machine really is.
As it turns out, I found that line a couple of weeks ago, while I was teaching English to fourth graders in a monastery in rural Cambodia. It was one of the many outstanding tours provided by Ama Waterways as we hosted our annual top agent retreat. As I did my best to teach this group of local 10-year-olds, I could tell I was falling flat. So, I hammed it up a bit, exaggerating everything I did and said. That’s when I saw the glimmer of a giggle appear in one boy’s eyes and watched as that twinkle spread contagiously to other students. That same afternoon, I saw a twinkle in an old man’s eyes as he told us about his deceased wife. As he recanted his experiences in and after the Vietnam war, including the death of his wife, I saw his twinkle fade to a smoldering ember. It was different than that of the students, they came from the same place. While the first glimmers were those of excitement and the glint in the gentleman’s eyes was joy overshadowed by pain, both were fundamentally human. Both twinkles spoke volumes to me and did so in a way no machine can ever duplicate. Travel agents have the best job in the world, some days.