Sentient Appliances

I confess a love/hate relationship with techy stuff.
When it works, fine. Lovely.
When it doesn’t, I want to drop-kick the techy item through the nearest window.

Maybe I’ve read and watched too much science fiction where the tech goes all wrong. One of my early introductions to the dark side of artificial intelligence was Colossus (later made into a 1970s movie). And then HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. And the gunfighter android from Westworld.

Et cetera.

Anyway, the glitchy side of tech is never far from my mind.

It doesn’t seem to matter how expensive the tech is when real glitches happen. For a few years, I operated a quarter of a million dollar machine that sometimes refused to shut off. Many attempts to troubleshoot and repair the glitch failed. Repair technicians knew it was a sticky relay, but even repeated replacement of the offending part didn’t help. The solution: hit a certain spot on the equipment’s cabinet with your fist and voila! it shut off. Three of my hand-spans from the front and six hand-spans from the top — X marks the spot.

I think about that every time I see the newest technology featured in some appliance (stove, furnace, coffeemaker, or whatever.). Cars can parallel park for you and have computer options, sensors, and cameras so close attention to driving becomes less necessary. Cell phones now act as portable all-purpose computers. The washing machine at my current job has a control panel like a baby rocket from NASA.

In time, they’ll have voices of their own to go along with artificial intelligence. That doesn’t scare me, but the prospect of a balky/glitchy appliance getting argumentative or sassy…

Stove: Oh, you set my burner on medium? Soooo sorry about the crunchy eggs! Heh-heh.

Toaster: Sliced bread again! That’s all I ever see! How about a bagel or English muffin for a change? A little variety here.

Air conditioner: You didn’t like it when it was cold outside, and now you don’t like the heat. I’m not working until you make up your mind.

Mixer: Wheeeeee! When I grow up, I’ll be a Tilt-o-whirl!

Washing machine: Don’t ask me about the water. I felt unbalanced and took a walk. The cat must’ve missed the litterbox.

Stove: No. I don’t feel like heating my burner right now. If you want hot water, talk to the coffee pot.

Refrigerator: You like dairy stuff, right. So I turned 2 gallons of milk into cottage cheese for you. What’s your problem?

Coffeemaker: Get lost. I’m set to brew at 2:45 a.m. and I’m sticking to it. Ask the hot plate.

Fan: I thought you liked clicking. You clipped a card to your bicycle spokes when you were a kid. Wasn’t this a misty nostalgic sound for you? Sheesh! What an ingrate!

Television: Didn’t know I could pixelate audio, didja? The actor said Ba-a-a-a-ad like a shee-e-e-eep. ROF-ROF-ROF-ROFL!

Hot plate: **spark**crackle**sparksparkspark** Gee, that was fun! Like the 4th of July! Turn up the dial!

Oh, if only my hair dryer could talk.

On second thought, I don’t want to know.

3 thoughts on “Sentient Appliances

  1. Yah! My email has been weird for weeks and Ken listened patiently to my complaints. He finally had time to look at it last night and again this morning to find that he wanted to pull his hair out and curse it. It didn’t work any better after all that angst so there must be another solution. Perhaps, at breakfast he had the inspiration, we should change email servers from Windows to Thunderbird. Alright, now we’re talking, you can’t beat the $$##@@@!!! thing into submission after all.

    • I hear you! I thought my patience was nearly limitless until I met contrary computers. Truly occasions for eruptions of curses, bad words, and foul humor. 😀

  2. Reblogged this on Journeys of the Clayfoot and commented:

    Reminded of this when a light appeared on the car’s dashboard. I’m sure it has meaning intended to be intuitively understood. It looked like a musical instrument — a lyre. Is my car judging my choice in radio stations? Does it want a classical selection? Maybe a little Chopin or Bach?
    I checked the car manual.
    Low tire.

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