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The Day The Computers Died
You may have noticed a massive outage by Amazon Web Services last week. Many businesses, including the likes of Netflix and Disney+, rely on their computing systems to operate and began to fail. The issues spread to companies around the world and many functions we take for granted ground to halt.
That may sound bad, but the Wall Street Journal found much, much worse:
Kyle Werner and his girlfriend had to feed their cats manually “like in ancient times.” You know, way back when we humans didn’t have internet connected kibble dispensing devices that automatically fed pets.
Poor Steven Peters had to “resort to getting a broom and dustpan” when his Roomba vacuum failed to start at its scheduled time. How horrible was that? “It was crazy,” Mr. Peters said.
Mark Edelstein missed that most basic human need—companionship. No matter what he asked, his Amazon Alexa was ignoring him and he felt lonely. “We chat more during the day than me and my wife do.”
Poor Samantha Sherhag had to open her window blinds—manually—because she was unable to turn on her lights with her voice and couldn’t reach the switch.
I know what you all must be thinking right now. How did these people manage to survive the day in such heinous conditions?
Oh, wait. Maybe you’re thinking that’s the silliest thing you’ve ever heard.
I smugly related the article to my Ever Patient Partner-In Life as we walked the dogs—no robots involved. How utterly silly that people are so connected to their computers that they can’t do simple tasks.
We walked quietly for a few minutes as I reveled in my superiority. The first question came. Fine, yes, I do use voice command to turn the lights on and off in my study, but I do know where the switch is. Not that I’ve touched it in a while.
And, yes, we do have robovacs to keep the floors clean. With a house of canines, that’s a necessity.
But I don’t have conversations with Alexa or Siri and the dogs get fed twice a day without any computer intervention.
My point had been made, so I changed the conversation to dinner. We discussed the different options and made our menu selection. With the plan made, I pulled my phone from my pocket and said, “Hey, Siri. Preheat the oven to 350º.” A second later, my phone pinged in response. The oven was preheating.
I didn’t hear a word, but I felt the question. Was I still feeling vain about those people’s over-reliance on technology? I could have turned on the oven manually when we got home, I retorted. Being able to do it by phone is just a convenience.
Fortunately, we rounded the corner of the block and spied our house. Once safely inside, I could change the topic. Besides, the sun was setting and night was falling, so we needed to get home before dark.
At that moment, the Christmas displays in the front yard and the lights inside the windows of our house lit up right on schedule, perfectly synchronized. The computer had done its job.
I ignored the snickering beside me.
Books Read – Dark Roads
Interesting Links – Amazon and YouTube
The lives disrupted by the Amazon outage as reported by the Wall Street Journal. This article forms the basis for this week’s musing. (This should be a free link that allows you to read the article. Most of the WSJ is behind a paywall.)
YouTube released its Copyright Transparency Report for the first half of 2021 which highlights one of the massive challenges for social media. The company received nearly 730 million copyright violation claims in six months. Let that sink in for a moment because that’s over 4 million claims a day. If you’ve ever had to do battle with one of the robotic algorithms on one of the social media channels, this is why. That volume is utterly impossible to address with human hands.
Gratuitous Dog Picture
On a cold, windy day, humans may want to be inside beside a roaring fire, but Siberian Huskies know exactly where they want to be. When I asked Landon if he was ready to come inside, this look of disdain was all the answer I received.
Background title image is courtesy Massimo Botturi
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