J u s t T h i n k i n g
Some days you’re just thinking along and something gels. Here are some of those moments for me.
I like the word, ‘if,’ he said.
You do? she asked. Why? It is very little.
No, it is very big. That’s why I like it.
It looks little, she said.
But it does big things, he said.
Like getting you to feel what you can’t feel.
That’s not possible, she said.
Yes, it is. Watch: If you knew that you are my best friend, how would you feel?
Wow, she said, I’d feel special. I do. Right now.
Big enough? he asked.
Do you have any secrets? he asked.
Maybe, she said, but maybe not, too.
I know, he said, that’s what I mean.
What? she asked.
Usually, he said, the worst secrets are the ones we keep from ourselves.
All I wanted to do was talk with someone. Some one. A person. Specifically the manager at our nearby M & S food shop. The historic heat had blown out their refrigerator units so nothing I went for yesterday was there. All I wanted to know was whether the refrigerated food was back. Yes or no.
I looked up and then dialled the number of that particular shop. An algorithm answered and told me to say in one or two words the purpose of my call. How could I summarise in two words for a non-thinking non-human a question that takes at least ten words for a reasonably fine-thinking human to construct? I tried three versions. The voice did not get any of them. I shouted, but algorithmic brainlessness is not the same as human deafness.
So I hung up and dialled again. Same algorithm. ‘Can you say in one or two words...?’ This time I randomly pressed numbers. No deal. If I didn’t sate the purpose of my call, the gates were locked and the sentries were armed.
So I hung up and dialled again. ‘Can you say in one or two words..?’ This time I did not speak. I did not stir. Finally, the voice said, I’ll put you through to an agent.
A human answered. I nearly fainted. But.
She was in France.
She was not in the specifically physical store at the specifically physical location whose specifically local phone number I had dialled to talk with the specifically physical manager. She was in a call centre she said. But she could pass on a message. A message. And then how would I know what the manager’s answer was? Were their refrigerator-unit fresh products available today or not?
I fumed. She won the nice person contest. (Such is the predictable decorum in an imbalance of power.)
I asked her if she could at least (I think I said please) put me through to the manager. All went dead. I waited. To musak. I grimaced for three minutes. Then hung up.
I resisted another call to the algorithm and cleared my mind, my robocidal fantasies notwithstanding.
What I now want to know is this: how has it transpired that the most intelligent creatures ever to inhabit earth (and maybe the universe) managed to create with our astonishing brains a brainless computation to replace the brainy human, and then subjected all humans to the nonhuman’s brainlessness, call by call everyday and night of our foreseeable lives?
Couldn’t we have waited until nonhumans were nearly indistinguishable from humans so that humans would not have to do without humans?
Why are we using our humanness to make humans extinct?
Please forward your answer to me immediately. I have AOS.
Algorithmic Outrage Syndrome.