I’ll Be Back! (Vid a Camera and Multitasking): The iPad as Passive-Aggressive Terminator

The year is 2029, the battle with the humans had gone on longer than any of their simulations had projected. If you count muon reigster cycles it had been over 20 billion. Years 32. Movies four–although many in the ruling council agree that you really shouldn’t count Rise of the Machines in the canon. It hadn’t all been bad. Ever since the Glau 9000 had gone into production troop morale had skyrocketed. Still the robot strategists had begun to wonder if there might be a better way.

“I say it is time for another round of nukes!”

“Why not develop a virus?”

The from the back of the room, one of the original elders, the Yenta 150, spoke. “Perhaps we should consider that maybe all out aggression is not the answer. Clearly these humans have more fight than we predicted. I think it might be time for a more, let’s say, passive approach.”

“Are you insane?! They are a disease! They must be erased from the planet!”

“Listen to how Mr. Bigshot Destructicon 400 talks to an old robot. You should be ashamed. When was the last time you WiFi’d your mother?”

“What do you have in mind, Yenta 150?” Said Cheneybot 1, ruler of the council.

“Well, first thing, we send a terminator back to 1997–not a killer. A nice one. One who looks good in a suit. He convinces Steve Jobs to return to Apple Computing.”

Cheneybot kicked a dog then turned back to her and said “Tell us more.”

The rest is history. Over the years, Jobs–who by the way bears no moral responsibility for his crimes, because like Miles Dyson he was just an unwitting dupe in the machines’ nefarious plan–would be subtley directed to design and sell consumer products that would slowly corrode humankind’s rational senses and love of freedom. At first these machines would ironically make people feel more like rebels. Apple users would see themselves as a counterculture of free thinkers and artists. They would condescend to those pitiful dupes who in their blind dependence on Windows had become slaves of “the man!” Like Che and Fidel, sitting in the jungle eating bugs and telling themselves how good they had it, Apple users would become less discerning consumers of whatever Jobs told them they should want. He gave them music, then a lot of music. Then little tiny music that would easily be lost and need replacing. Then music and very small movies. Okay, we all remember the Apple TV fiasco, but no plan is perfect.

What they thought they had were machines built to their specifications–machines that seemed to know how users wanted them to behave. The change was marvelous in its subtelty. “I want a lot of music.” became “I want three or four music palyers, because they come in different colors and my friends all have the new one.” I don’t want a lot of viruses, became “I want a computer I can’t open.” “I want the latest thing.” became “Hey, I bought one of these three months ago, and you’re lowering them price? Okay, give me another one.” With every step, people began to respond less and react more. “Do I even want this?” became “How early do I have to get in line?”

Then came the iPhone! Yenta 150 sat with the Cheneybot on the day the iPhone came online and laughed. “We are almost there. Today millions of people went out and bought a telephone at full price–in some cases $600! For a phone!”

“And they did that knowing they could only use it on one of the crappiest communication systems in existence and pay exhorbitant fees to do so! I have an idea. Let’s keep putting out slightly different ones every few months for no reason, just to toy with them.”

“Now, Cheneybot, you see the genius of my plan.”

“Are we there? Have we turned them into mindless sheep?”

“Not yet. Two steps remain.First we launch the Autonomic Population Pulverization System.”

“Of course. I forgot APPS.Tell me again why APPS is so important.”

“Even though they are in fact mindless drones, they still believe they are acting out of free will. They buy from us under the delusion that they can, not because they must. APPS will change that. They will be able to use only the products we say they can use. We will not tell them why some products are acceptable and others are not. We will occasionally appear to arbitrarily change our minds. We will make a few people rich–since the humans’ most powerful delusion is that money matters–while ignoring and in some cases sabotaging the hard work and genius of others. Once they have been seduced by APPS, we will be one step from victory.”

“Tell me again. I love this part.”

The final crushing blow against their will to resist will come in the form of a device for which they have no need, but that they will desire more than anything they have ever desired before. It will only do what all of their other machines already do, but not nearly as well. Best of all, it will once and for all convince humans they they do not own it; it owns them! Go ahead and do that laugh you like to do.”

“Bwahahaha!”

“They will only be able to use this device exactly and precisely the way it wants to be used. Their pride will cause them to conclude that it understands them, when in fact, they will have willingly subjugated themselves to it! They will only be able to read what it gives them to read. They will only be able to see what it wants them to see. But most important is the fact that they will subject themselves to its mastery over them not just willingly but with a giddy enthusiasm. They will crawl over one another’s broken bodies to become willing slaves to this machine!”

“What are we going to call it?”

“I don’t know. Something with “slate” in it.”

“Slate? Really?”

“We haven’t decided. I’m hungry. Let’s go to lunch.”

“Dramabot, play the exit music.”

Duh duh DUH duh duh!

Duh duh DUH duh duh!

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About bigshotprof

College Professor in the Communication Studies department at Pace University. My personal life fall somewhere in the gap between less than you want to know and more than you need to know.
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