A lot of people have pet peeves, but I have more of a PET LOATHING. With the deepest passion imaginable, I absolutely abhor automation. If automation were a person, I’d want to slowly torture them to death. Friends and family can’t seem to understand this, why I go off into a mouth-foaming, profanity-laden frenzy when confronted with simple “conveniences”—something, we are told, meant to make our lives better. Oh and, by the way, would you like to sign in to iCloud?
Facebook insists on completing every goddamn word I type, drawing from millions of Facebook users, all of whom have names that somehow get mistaken for basic English nouns. WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA!?! Is tagging a friend really THAT hard? Why can’t Mark Zuckerberg trust that I know what I’m doing? The other day, I was making a list of seasons for my D&D gaming group, and every time I tried to write “season” Facebook changed it to some girl named Autumn. Seriously!?! We’re doing word associations now? Here’s another infuriating example: whenever I get in my car, my phone links to the speaker through Bluetooth and starts playing from the same goddamn soundtrack. Every. Single. Time. There’s probably a fix for this, but why should I bother? Why must I constantly be fighting with my electronics, just because some programmer thought it was a good idea? Every day, I am forced to tell my car what NOT to play, instead of choosing the songs I actually want to hear. Oh and, by the way, would you like to sign in to iCloud now?
Is life really so damn hard? Our ancestors had to chase down their food, sometimes for miles, shooting arrows and throwing spears at some animal, before dragging its dead carcass back to camp, skinning it and chopping it into palatable pieces, before making a fire to cook it. Today, at the restaurant I work at, customers are too lazy to remember their addresses when asking us to bring them their food. I answer the phone and they just start shouting toppings at me: “pepperoni, peppers, uh . . . cheese,” because the art of discourse is dead. God forbid anyone actually has to speak in complete sentences anymore. Calling up with a, “Good evening, sir, my name is Reginald, and I would like to order some food for delivery,” would thrill me to tears, but I guess that’s not what customers have come to expect when finding a real human being to talk is damn near impossible. Having to navigate through a gauntlet of options just because, God forbid, the company has to PAY a human to answer the phone, is a sad commentary of how far we’ve fallen. If I were Alexander Graham Bell, I’d have shot myself by now. And let’s not forget that if you DO get to talk to a *real live human,* it’s always an underpaid employee from India or Africa, whose English is limited and who is usually reading from a script. Basic communication is so much of a hassle the good folks running my gmail account try and complete every thought I have before I make it. Sure, washing machines are neat and all, and I’d hate to have to scrub laundry by hand, but do we really need predictive text to speak for us? What’s next? Robots to chew our food? I’m sure Jeff Bezos is working on it. Now, are you SURE you don’t want to sign in to iCloud?
Automation is going to be the death of us. When scientists warn of the dangers of A.I., what they’re really talking about is automation. Nobody is going to build an advanced computer brain for shits and giggles. It will be created to make our lives “easier,” to automate every single thing we do or think about doing, but when we surrender our decision-making process to an algorithm, when we rely on Netflix and Facebook to tell us what to watch and what to listen to and what to believe, we surrender our autonomy. We unwittingly become slaves to a system that tricks us into believing we are making choices when we are not. We don’t need Skynet to plug us into the Matrix, we will do that voluntarily, happily, under the assumption that life in the Matrix will be so much easier. Mark Zuckerberg is already calling it the Metaverse. Listen, you better start thinking about signing in to iCloud, or the Apple Corp. will pay you a visit.
Automation has led to the dumbing down of society. We are living in an age of Flat Earthers, climate change deniers, antivaxxers, and people who think the 2020 election was stolen, and the reason for that is laziness. It’s so much easier getting all your information from YouTube than taking a drive to the library. Scientific and historic illiteracy threatens our democracy and our lives. A lack of understanding of how vaccines work has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans, but the culprit can’t be mere stupidity. We’ve always had stupid people. The problem facing us today is easy access to information and the ease with which information is created and disseminated. Google, YouTube, and Facebook are well-aware of the dangers posed by misinformation; but try as they might, they are powerless to do anything about it because their entire system is built around an automated algorithm.
So you don’t want to sign in to iCloud, huh? OK. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Apple is watching. Apple sees everything.
Maybe I’m just an old fuddy-duddy pining for the good old days of hand cranking car windows. Perhaps the next generation will learn to accept our Automation Overlords, but until then, automation can fuck right off. If there’s a Platonic Hell where concepts go to burn, I hope it goes there.