Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion states for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That’s how I’m feeling about technology at the moment. For all the wonderful things technology has provided for us, there are also many annoying, frustrating, inexplicable and downright idiotic aspects. My current beef is with a new set of hand held phones. For a number of reasons I prefer these to using my cell phone at home.
The hi-tech recharge base is adorned with a ridiculous number of buttons. When all of the buttons are active, I doubt I would even need to have an actual conversation. The phone would do it for me. As soon as it rang I was getting a plethora of vocal messages. This device must be a relative of Hal. Hal, if you recall, was the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey that took over everything. No doubt a precursor to AI. I immediately turned off all vocal functions on the phone. That allowed me to use it in the traditional manner with me in control, until…
I get way too many calls from unknown numbers including long distance codes. If I don’t recognize the number, I let it go to voice mail figuring if it’s really for me, they will leave a message. I have also come to expect the long distance calls to be spam or scams. Again, unless I happen to recognize a particular number, I don’t answer. You can’t be too careful these days.
Here's what happened. Remember, I disabled every possible vocal function on the phone. One day one of those unknown numbers came in. I have my phone set for 6 rings before it goes to voice mail. It rang 6 times when Hal spoke saying, “enter your access code.” What the heck was that? It kind of freaked me out. Maybe it was a one off glitch and I would check the manual if it reoccurred.
For the next several days it was business as usual,. Then a call came in. After 6 rings, Hal asked for an access code. Another freak out. I went through the phone’s manual with a fine tooth comb. There was nothing about this weird function. Not a word that could possibly explain why this was happening. Nothing. Nada. I asked a couple of tech savvy friends about it. They had no explanation either.
Strangely, bizarrely, seriously creepy, Hal was showing up more and more frequently. Enough was enough. Newton’s 3rd Law was in motion again. My equal and opposite reaction was to bring Hal to his demise. I unplugged the phones and packed them away. Fortunately, I kept the previous set and reactivated them. Now, when the phone rings, I answer. If not it quietly goes to voice mail. Wonderful.
I do wonder what that was all about. Why ask for an access code? What was it then access to? Is AI beginning to run amok? Many questions. No answers. We live in interesting times.