Machines Enter the Cellular Mundane Push

Old tech, new, more personal application. Pre-recorded messages have been the norm for call help. If you call just about anywhere for help, excluding your local power company in a small, southern, American town, you’ll get a pre-recorded message, usually navigatable via the touch-tone phone, and more recently, decently intelligent voice recognition. The latter helps the hands free vs. the frustration free in regards to suffering the indignity of not being able to talk to a human via the phone unless using the equivalent of Control + Alt + Delete (0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0… ah, operator).

I don’t answer my home phone anymore. We only have it for internet, because BellSouth, the phone company, requires a land-line for DSL (linemen union’s got ’em by the balls), and cable is too expensive compared to satellite. Her majesty digs the long distance every so often, but even that is rarely used with her Cingular rollover minutes on her cell phone. Naturally, if I don’t pay a bill on time, I’m f00ked because I’d never answer the phone to hear bill collectors.

To me, land-lines have reached the relevance of newsgroups(aka USENET); saturated by unsoliciated services, thus rendering them useless.

One such frustration was telemarketing done via machines. It wasn’t just the call being a pre-recorded message interupting my Flash debug sessions, so much so as the recording’s inability to start up quickly.

Now, they’ve found a useful application; reminding me that my credit card that I use to auto-pay my Cingular cell phone bill every month is about to expire, and I should call Cingular to preemptively setup a new card so my service remains uninterupted.

Sorry mom, but the etiquette you instilled into me is for naught for the thank you will fall on non-existent ears.

*ring* *ring*

:: goes to answer phone ::

“Thissssss is Jesse.”

“Hello (Mr. Anderson). This is a courtesy call from Cingular Wireless regarding your account.”

“Hey… your mom’s a choad! Choad choad… CHAoAOAOAOAOOD!!!”

:: the voice continues, unabated ::
“Your current credit card on file used to auto-pay your acount…”

“Dude, I’m wearing women’s clothing right now, and I must say, for a guy, I look quite attractive. Screeeeee-umptous!”

:: the voice continues, unabated ::
“… is about to expire. To ensure your continued service…”


:: the voice continues, unabated ::
“… please call use at xxx-xxx-xxxx as soon as possible to setup a new credit card. Than…”

:: click, I end the call ::

In the movie Terminator, guerilla fighters fought a desperate battle against the dominating machines. Their dying breathes were fought vying for re-control of our world, and our right to live.

In the real world, I realize the machines are arising in a different, more subtle way, a way in which we won’t even notice. Frustrated that I’ll not be able to wear ripped up clothing, hauling around homeade bombs, all in a desperate battle to reclaim our home planet… I spitefully make obnoxious comments to a machine recording on my cell phone, a device created to help faciliate communication amongst humans, sickenly mocked under the guise of effecient, helpful service. It’s so humiliating… the least they could do is code in fuzzy logic to have the voice get irritated for getting interupted in a consolatory effort make me receive some satisfaction in knowing my world full of human dominance is slowly, but surely slipping from our control, willfully.

Bank of America’s current pre-recorded guy actually takes a Pet Detective vs. Captain Kirk approach if you interupt him, “Iiiiiiiiiiiiaaaahhh’m sorry, I… didn’t-quite-understaaand what you were asking.”

While the title of this entry does not do justice to the full implications contained herein, to me, this is yet another piece of evidence giving credit to the science fiction writer, Simon Ings, quoted at the bottom of the following article. I originally found this article, Turing’s Cathedral, via the O’Reilly Radar. I’m still reading one of Ray Kurzweil’s books, The Age of Spiritual Machines, which only exacerbates the fear of what this quote implies. I see it happening every day.

When our machines overtook us, too complex and efficient for us to control, they did it so fast and so smoothly and so usefully, only a fool or a prophet would have dared complain.

I can only hope my alias, “Jester”, has a deeper meaning here.