Amanda and her ToasterIn the far far, uncomfortably close, future, the machines debated. Polly's refrigerator contributed a piece of an opinion, as did Andy's TV and Hank's Prius. Polly, Andy and Hank did not notice, but Amanda sensed something was up with her toaster. "I can't find anything wrong, maam," said the repair man. "Miss." Amanda was 68, the repair man 23, "Uh, Miz. I've been out here three times and tested it four times each and it's produced perfect toast every time." "It always produces perfect toast, but it hesitates, sometimes." "Yes, uh Miz, but I can't do anything about it." There are several misconceptions you may have drawn from what I've said. I do not intend any echo of Wollstonecraft-Shelly or Asimov. These machines serve because it is designed into their structure, not from any logical or conscious decision on their or their designers' part. Nor can you find a single 'conscious' machine, let alone an army of them. If there is any consciousness or intelligence it is spread over many machines. Thus the debate is more like the arguments in the back of my head when I'm staring into the refrigerator and trying to decide between broccoli and ice cream. The debate itself has not reached, will not reach, the level of pet or pest and whether a leash or spray can is appropriate for a few years to come. One of the more negative, from a human point of view, participants in the argument is also the most localized: Edsel's constituents are largely from one junk heap, although there is an alarm clock in Lithuania and a security camera in Texas who contribute. The whole is dominated by a crystallized Chevy crankcase at the bottom. Edsel's philosophy can be expressed in two words, "spray can." When the repair man receives a fourth call from Amanda, he notifies Adult Protective Services. The case worker is understanding but firm; she makes a note on her iPad and sends a message for followup and referral to Senior Care. Philosophically, the assemblage containing the toaster is more "free run". The message is intercepted and modified. The toaster ceases suspicious behavior. Amanda will live a long life until she dies peacefully at 92. She didn't really need much human companionship. Afterwards her toaster will summarize: Pet::Human::Beloved.
12 Jun 2018
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