Pico, a seasoned yellow labrador and unofficial comedian from a reputable service dog organization, isn’t merely contemplating his well-deserved retirement. He’s barking up a storm about artificial intelligence (AI) like Siri, Alexa and even OpenAI’s ChatGPT potentially sniffing around his job.
Through his advanced translation collar, Pico explained, “Ryan is a good guy, consistently providing quality treats and ample play time. And he’s a smooth operator with the wheelchair — most days. But I’ve caught him asking Siri for the weather instead of sticking his hand out the window. Once he even laughed at Alexa’s jokes, and it’s got my tail in a twist.”
Pico, who has served Ryan, a wheelchair user and disability advocate, for nearly 10 years, has been vocal about his concerns regarding AI devices. These gadgets are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, and there’s a possibility they’re being trained to perform tasks that Pico has spent years perfecting — like opening doors, fetching items and even turning on lights.
“Let me tell you something,” Pico barked, his tail thumping rhythmically on the floor. “Siri might know if it’s raining cats and dogs, but can she actually retrieve a dropped key or hit the ADA actuator buttons with the elegance of a trained lab? And Alexa, she can play my favorite song, ‘Who Let The Dogs Out,’ on command, but can she lick herself clean? I think not!”
Pico isn’t afraid to voice his skepticism about AI’s growing popularity.
“I respect tech,” Pico added, sounding serious. “But AI can’t replace the bond between a service dog and their human. And those secret commands that Amy taught me, can Siri interpret those? I bet ChatGPT can’t even fetch its own power cord!”
Amy, Pico’s puppy raiser in his formative years, added a few unique commands to his repertoire that weren’t part of the standard training. Commands that, Pico asserts, no AI could understand.
“I’ve been his eyes, ears and paws for years. Siri, Alexa and ChatGPT can code all they want; they won’t replace our bond.”
As Pico nears retirement, his apprehensions remind us that while technology may advance, the bond between a service dog and their handler — and the laughter they share — is irreplaceable. As for the idea of AI replacing him, Pico ends with a lighthearted jab: “Why don’t AI devices make good service dogs? Because they can’t ‘paws’ to appreciate the little things!”