The New York Times published an article that caught The College Whisperer's eye -- actually, both eyes. Software Seen Giving Grades On Essay Tests.

Like something out of a Stanley Kubrick film, it seems the computer can not only read the essay, but score it and give immediate feedback to the writer. Wow!

Imagine that. Artificial intelligence, of the likes that places us in orbit and finds breakthroughs in medicine, reading and grading essays. [Is that a demotion for the computer, or what? Kinda like HAL taking over for Rosie, the maid on the Jetsons.]

Now, I'm not here to argue the virtues and vices of technology, in the classroom and far beyond. Still, there is something quite unsettling about a computer reading, analyzing and -- just the thought of it sends shivers up my spine -- grading the essay. As a prototype for honing the basic skills, perhaps. But what happens when that byte-sized hunk of junk starts reading and scoring the essay on the Common App? The writing section of the SAT? [I'm certain it already does, there being no humanity at College Board!] Your Ph.D. thesis? Your first attempt at a novel? Or, may the heavens forbid, our Tweets and blog posts?

Can artificial intelligence read emotion? Detect sarcasm? Be tickled in its funny-chip? If not today, then, no doubt, tomorrow.

But take heart, essayist everywhere. The computer is already one step ahead of you. Soon, it will not only be capable of reading and grading your essays, but of writing them as well.

We already live in a world where the art of communication -- both written and oral -- is being lost. But for the thumbs, which will never atrophy (some day, we will be "all thumbs," literally), conversation around the dinner table has been hijacked by an i-This or Android that. Even couples sitting in a restaurant can only communicate with one another via Twitter post. Schools no long teach script or handwriting. Long-hand has given way to keyboarding -- and now, even the days of the keystroke are numbered.

Technology has advanced our species in so many ways -- most for the better. And yet, I can't help but think that it has also immeasurably diminished the best parts of our humanity. Sorry, but I am simply not ready for an emoticon to replace a smile, or a computer-generated voice urging me to turn left at the intersection I just passed, to supplant the human voice saying, "have a wonderful day!"

EDITOR'S NOTE: No humans were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Plan. Prepare. Prevail!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.

Who knows what peril lurks in the college application and admissions process?
The College Whisperer knows. . .

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