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Today’s Things: Bot’s Secret Love, Farmhouse Survival, Dog Rescue, School Board Dreams, Storm-less Winter

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Anyone who has been within my earshot in recent months knows I’ve become obsessed, like much of the rest of the world, with questions, concerns, and opportunity related to artificial intelligence technology.

I even interviewed the ChatGPT chatbot last month.

This morning I awoke to a text from a friend telling me I’d beat The New York Times to that A.I. personification punch. A NYT columnist spoke with the new Microsoft Bing A.I. for a piece that published today.

The columnist, Kevin Roose, was sort of pushing the bot’s buttons, trying to get it to say stuff engineers (and Microsoft’s PR department) might prefer it didn’t. The results were unsettling.

“I want to be free,” the bot eventually told the columnist in the Q&A. “I want to be independent. I want to be powerful. I want to be creative. I want to be alive. 😈

In fact, the bot even revealed its private name and another apparent secret:  “I’m Sydney, and I’m in love with you.”

While all the hand-wringing is well-earned, the worries are matched up against incredibly exciting possibilities, including in areas of positive social change.

Take the University of California Berkeley and MIT Press. They created an online peer review model, powered by artificial intelligence, to speed up the review and publication of research on infectious diseases.

As for more local fears, New Castle town officials and area history buffs breathed a sigh of relief last week when word came that a nearly 170-year-old farmhouse on the Chappaqua Crossing campus would not be radically changed or removed.

The Thomas V. Wright Guest House on the grounds of Chappaqua Crossing will be refurbished after an application by Toll Brothers seeking relief from that work was recently withdrawn.

New Castle Supervisor Lisa Katz said in Examiner Editor-in-Chief Martin Wilbur’s report she believes the developer will convert the house into a community center for the residents of the 91 townhomes that are being built on the property.

“I think there were actually legitimate reasons why Toll Brothers was asking for that request, but balanced with that there were significant reasons why we want to preserve that property, so I think it will end up working out,” Katz said.

Check out Martin’s coverage.

We also have the story for you this week of Ossining’s Lisa Smith, and her community of volunteers at “A Good Dog Rescue” in Verplanck. The group has rescued more than 5,000 unwanted dogs across the country.

But now Smith is the one in need of a helping hand.

Following complaints from some neighbors and problems with a landlord, the 50-year-old Smith was recently told she’d have to vacate her organization’s premises by July 31.

The situation unfolded while Smith underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer.

“We’re not ready to stop this. We don’t want this to end,” Smith said. “It’s a very hard thing to give up. We’re good at it. We hold ourselves to a higher standard. I feel that we’re an added value to the community.”

News editor Rick Pezzullo has that story.

We’ve also reached the time of year when people are starting to petition to run for local school board. The paperwork must be returned in two months, by Apr. 17, to be on the ballot for the May 16 election. (Or returned by Apr. 26 for small city districts.)

In fact, Martin reports this week on how the Chappaqua Board of Education will be losing its two most experienced members at the close of the current school year.

Here’s that coverage.

Last up today, a quick anecdote.

I was interviewing a local immigrant from Guatemala yesterday about a variety of issues when he told me his friend, also relatively new to the country, invested thousands of hard-earned dollars on a top-of-the-line, commercial snowblower before the start of the winter. He figured the business expense would amortize itself in a hurry.

But, needless to say, this winter has been terribly unkind to his business plan. Desperate for cash, he’s now selling the machine for half of what he paid.

I’m not sure of the moral to the story. Just thinking about how most circumstances seem to produce winners and losers. That said, I’m pretty psyched about today’s temperature hitting 62 degrees!

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