On Jeopardy a while ago, there was a competition between smug, way-too-smart-for-their-own-good humans and a smug, way-too-smart-for-its-own-good computer. It was man versus machine, a timeless competition between humankind and what we can create.
Guess what? The computer won.
I’m uncomfortable with technology being smarter than me. The only advantage I have over computers at this point is I can have water touch me without immediately crashing. Despite this, I am still forced to interact with technology on a daily basis.
As a recent victim of what we technology-savvy people like to call “that-stupid-cell-phone-broke-what’s-wrong-with-it-I-didn’t-even-drop-it-or-anything-ARRRRGGGHHHH!,” I was forced to get a new phone. After careful deliberation, several hours a research, one witty blog post, and countless uninteresting facts about cell phones spouted off to my wife (“This phone only has a 5-megapixel camera, but it does have a double flash to reduce red eye!”), I settled on one and waited for it to arrive in the mail.
Whenever a new cell phone arrives, the first thing you want to do is have your contacts transferred over. If you don’t there is a serious danger of you answering the phone with a phrase, such as, “What’s going on, you piece of crap?! Hahahaha!” only to find out it was actually your boss on the other line. Having a name pop up when a call comes through can prevent this type of thing from happening.
I was ready to have my contacts transferred, but first, for whatever reason, I set up my Facebook. I don’t know why that was the first thing I did. Maybe I was really curious what the relationship status of everyone I know was. No matter the reason, I took the two minutes to type in my password, agree to the conditions, and let the phone do its thing.
It chose to do the creepiest thing ever.
My phone found every contact of everyone I’ve ever known and put it in there for me.
Instead of no contacts, I now have the phone number of anyone I am Facebook friends with that has ever posted a phone number on their profile. This includes high school classmates I have not spoken to in eight years, high school classmates I have never spoken to, and people who should be so busy eating the early bird special at Denny’s then going home and catching a rerun of Murder She Wrote that they shouldn’t have even had the time to sign on up with Facebook, let alone find a new adorable cat video to post online every day.
Now, when I go to my contacts list, I have to sort through “that guy I had chemistry with in tenth grade” or “that girl that always kind of smelled like soup.” I know for a fact I am never going to call these people. There would be no reason to unless I had a question about Bunsen burners or wanted to find a good soup scented perfume.
Maybe my phone is trying to tell me something. Maybe it thinks I need to reconnect with these people, to get back in touch with my roots. Maybe it’s trying to tell me the importance of making an impression on people now since our time on this planet is so short and so trivial. Maybe it just thinks I have no friends and wanted me to get some more.
Who am I to argue with it? It is a smartphone.
The fact that it was able to do this, though, concerns me greatly. What’s going to happen next? Someday, am I going to receive a package in the mail from Banana Republic because my phone thinks I don’t dress well enough? Is it going to put me on a diet? Will it start suggesting new deodorants that will bring out my natural “manly aroma?”
I don’t like to think that my cell phone is smarter than me, so I downloaded a game of chess. This would be the true test, I thought.
It turns out I suck at chess. My phone, however, does not.
I may have to start sleeping with a glass of water beside me at night just to stop the phone if it comes after me. Who know what it’s capable of? If I am able to throw the water on it quickly, it will stop its persistent attacks and possibly save me from a crazy, cell-phony death.
That would void the warranty, though. That’s probably not worth it.
I guess I’ll just have to learn to deal with an incredibly intelligent phone, but listen to what I say, phone: I’m onto you. You can’t get away with it. I have one eye on you at all times and there is nothing that you can do to distract me. I will just be watching you, waiting for you to make your move.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go check my warranty. I need to know just how much water it does take to void it.