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The Human Connection

I recently asked Bard to tell me a story. Now, Bard isn’t one of our staff writers or columnists. Bard is actually Google’s new artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, a computer program designed to simulate human conversations. More than just a search engine, Bard accesses the knowledge of the internet and uses language modeling technology to formulate responses to questions.

AI has been in the news lately due to rapid advancements in this technology. Some AI platforms can pass medical exams, write college essays – even tell jokes and express opinions. Bard told me it thought the new Major League Baseball rules have made the game more exciting.

The pace of AI advancement has some technology experts nervous about the future (think: the Terminator movies where machines take over). Several tech leaders, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, have even called for a pause in AI development to assess the risk to humanity.

Google acknowledges that Bard is an experimental system, and that it is prone to mistakes. When I asked Bard to tell me a story about the moon, it told me a story about a little girl who went to the moon, where she met a rabbit and, overhead, she could see – the moon. When I asked Bard to tell me a story about rural Pennsylvania, it told me a story about a little girl who cared for an injured deer on her farm. She named it Bambi, but had to leave Bambi behind because her parents had to leave the farm to find work in the city. They eventually made enough money to buy — you guessed it — a farm. And Bambi and the little girl were reunited and lived happily ever after.

Inconsistencies aside, the stories seemed to lack something in the telling – perhaps a human touch. No doubt, Bard and other AI platforms will get better, but I have my doubts about machines taking over. Rather, I believe we’ll find a way to work together. From the wheel to the word processor, that’s been the case with humans and machines.

In this month’s Penn Lines, there’s a story of co-op members using software to improve efficiency for a farming business. Machines play an important role, but’s it’s the human connection that makes the story.




Program provides nutritious foods

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is participating in the Senior Food Box Program, which is designed to improve the health of low-income senior citizens by supplementing their diets with nutritious foods.

Residents who are at least 60 years old and meet certain household guidelines are eligible to participate.

The boxes are not intended to provide a complete diet, but are good sources of nutrients typically lacking in the diets of older Americans. Among the types of food included are nonfat dry and shelf-stable milk, juice, oats, ready-to-eat cereal, rice, pasta, dry beans, peanut butter, canned meat, poultry or fish, and canned fruits and vegetables.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture purchases the food for the state Department of Agriculture, which works with local nonprofit agencies to facilitate the distribution of monthly food boxes to eligible participants.

For more information, call 800-468-2433 or email


State looking for groups to help keep Pennsylvania beautiful

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is looking for individuals and groups who want to keep Pennsylvania beautiful by picking up litter along 150,000 acres of state-maintained roadside. PennDOT has a wide variety of beautification programs.

The agency will provide volunteers with safety training, gloves, safety vests, trash bags and, if requested, warning signs to use during litter pick-ups.

Volunteers must be at least 8 years old, and participants under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Those interested should contact their local PennDOT County Maintenance Office for help in selecting a stretch of state-maintained road or an area to beautify.


Pa. deer population ‘in a pretty good place,’ state official says

The Pennsylvania Game Commission reports hunters harvested an estimated 422,960 white-tailed deer during the 2022-2023 hunting season with 164,190 bucks and 258,770 antlerless deer taken. These numbers represent a 12% increase over the previous year’s estimated take.

“The long-term buck harvest trend indicates Pennsylvania’s deer population is in a pretty good place right now,” says David Stainbrook, Game Commission Deer and Elk Section supervisor. “We see generally stable population trends in most of the state, near goal levels, and we are seeing more older bucks available for harvest. For five years running, about one of every four Pennsylvania hunters has tagged a buck, with two of every three bucks harvested being 2.5 years old or older.”

The regular firearms deer season accounted for the largest part of the 2022-2023 deer harvest, as is typical in most years. Firearms hunters took 251,520 deer, while bowhunters accounted for just over one-third of the total deer harvest with 145,640 whitetails. The muzzleloader harvest was 25,790.


Fish-for-Free Days set in May, July

Two annual Fish-for-Free Days are coming up Sunday, May 28, and Tuesday, July 4, in Pennsylvania. On those days, anyone – resident or non-resident – can fish without purchasing a fishing license. All other fishing regulations, however, still apply.

Crayola giving away 1 million free crayons

Crayola is giving away 1 million free crayons at its Crayon Experience locations, one of which is in Easton, Pa.

Registration, which ends May 31, is required. Each household is limited to two boxes and sign-up is on a first-come, first-served basis. Crayons will be given away while supplies last. For more information, visit



Ten years ago, two of the major reasons why electric cooperatives enjoy some of the lowest generation rates in the Mid-Atlantic region — and still do — were celebrating milestones. The Susquehanna Steam Electric Station nuclear plant was marking its 30th year of coming online, while the Raystown Hydroelectric Plant was marking its 25th year of commercial operations.


May 2013 cover


Also in this issue


The Seeds of Support

Help Available for Farmers Battling Depression

Creating Apps for Apples

Find out how a Penn Lines classified ad changed a few lives

Read the full issue

May 2023 Cover

Read past issues

50th Anniversary Penn Lines magazine cover