I'm not beeping happy

by Wayne Aspland and Connor Aspland

Toast1

Excited about AI? Then think again. This monologue provides a new take on AI and Industry 4.0. It’s a terrifying(?) view of the future written by Wayne and Connor Aspland (with a hat-tip to Red Dwarf’s Talkie Toaster).

 

I bought a toaster the other day.

Now this thing makes some serious toast.

Masterchef toast.

The kind of toast that Heston would make.

If Heston made toast... which he probably doesn’t.

 

This toaster has everything.

Four slice capacity. Twenty-five-kilowatt turbo heater.

A setting that lets you burn Paul McCartney’s face onto your toast. If that be your pleasure.

You name it. This toaster can do it. 

But for all the innovations, all the improvements in advanced toaster technology, this toaster has one feature I really hate.

It beeps when the toast is cooked.

 

Now you probably think I’m crazy. Why get worked up over a toaster beep?

I mean, it kind’a makes sense. So, what’s the problem?

 

The problem is that EVERYTHING beeps at me these days! I’m surrounded by STUPID, BRAINLESS objects that call themselves smart and constantly nag me all day!

My microwave beeps at me when my chicken parmi is done.

And then, if I don’t open the door within a speedy three point four seconds, it beeps again.

Louder, even. Like "C’mon, sucker, get on top of this!"

My washing machine beeps.

I just upgraded my computer’s sound card so, hey, I just gave it the ability to beep at me in seven hundred new ways!

My watch beeps... every hour. Just to remind me that another hour of my pointless life has gone forever. That the inevitability of death is fast approaching.

And I can’t do anything in the car without it beeping at me.

No, not beeping. Screaming at me.

Just the other day, I’m innocently trying to do some grocery shopping when it starts at me again.

Why? Because I had the audacity to buy a large bottle of my favourite brand of orange juice and put it down on the passenger seat next to me. The car thought it was a person without a seatbelt and promptly threw a tantrum!

Stupid bloody thing. Who could possibly get a bottle of orange juice mixed up with a person?

Oh, that’s right. A car isn’t a who. I keep forgetting.

 

But, you know what?

This… This is only the beginning. Think of a Tamagotchi for a second. It doesn’t just nag us. It holds us to ransom.

“Do what I tell you,” it cries. “Or I’m gonna die.”

How long do you think it’ll be before it starts saying “Do what I tell you… or YOU’RE gonna die?” How long until when you die in the game, you die in real life?

 

See, that’s my point! People keep talking about how artificial intelligence is going to just be the tightest stuff, and how it’ll be the best thing since the sliced bread I’m putting in my toaster.

Machines serving people, doing stuff for us, making life easier.

But these machines are dumb as rocks and they’re already managing to bug the hell out of us.

What do you think is going to happen when they actually do have intelligence? It’ll just be non-stop, twenty-four seven, yapping away, telling us what to do.

 

And have you ever tried to argue with a bloody machine?

Beep. Beep. Beep.

“Okay, I’m coming.”

Beep. Beep. Beep.

“Yes, I know.”

Beep. Beep. Beep.

“Will you shut up… I’ll be there when I’m ready.”

Beep. Beep. Beep.

“If you do that one more time, I’ll rip your damned cord out and strangle you until your transformers bleed.”

Beep. Beep. Beep.

I think I just lost the will to live.

 

And how long do you think it’ll be before these ‘smart’ machines start ganging up on us?

Before my bathtub’s in cahoots with my hair dryer or the TV’s plotting with the fridge?

I go to heat up some mac and cheese in the microwave. It gives me a really nasty beep and says

“Don’t think so, buddy. There’s 150 calories in that mac and cheese. I’m not cooking it until you’ve done fifteen minutes on the exercise bike!”

So then, just to experience the delicious taste of supermarket mac and cheese, I have to drag myself over to the exercise bike.

Which, of course, beeps at me again.

 

And they tell me we’ll one day have intelligent clothing.

What? Does that mean my shirt won’t let me put those pants on because they don’t fit the hipster vibe the shirt’s trying to achieve?

Or are my undies gonna angrily announce to the world that I haven’t changed them in three days?

 

Is this the end goal? Is this what it’s come to?

Six million years of human evolution. The awesome gift of intelligence.

And what do we do? We end up building a totalitarian society ruled by a hunk a metal that makes my bread slightly warmer than before!

Anyway, I’d better go. I heard a beep. I think my vacuum cleaner just summoned me.

Author Profile(s)

Wayne Aspland is an Australian writer and corporate communicator. He has more than 15 years’ experience in corporate communication (including Head of Function), content creation and corporate strategy. He's also been working in (and writing about) digital technology for more than 20 years...almost as long as the internet’s been ‘a thing’. Wayne provides internal and external communication support to clients across a wide range of industry sectors. In particular, he helps leaders communicate strategy, align and engage their people, manage change and build content and thought leadership programs. Wayne has lectured in communication at Deakin University and is also an award-winning former member of the IABC Victoria Board. Wayne’s full credentials can be found on his website at www.thecontentfactory.com.au

Connor Aspland (pictured at the top of the page) is a talented young writer and a crazy-keen movie buff. He is currently studying Screen Media (surprise, surprise) at Victoria University in Melbourne.