I’m sitting in a high school gym surrounded by annoying little machines that are zigzagging around me. Their little motors purring, their little gears twirling, and their little wheels spinning their gangly bodies round and round. Not even pausing to greet me as I look down, they seem oblivious to the world around them.
And then we have their teenage masters, twirling and spinning their own gangly bodies with their limbs flying about. They have each grown one extra appendage, a laptop, which they also whiz about with uncertain precision. Teenage bodies grow and change faster than their coordination can keep up with.
Welcome to the world of high school robotics competitions. What better place to put me in the mood to write about my frustrations with technology. But first I’ll write about my frustrations with Leo, one of technology’s many pawns.
I arrive at my school on this cold Saturday morning at 7 am, ready to drive my teens over to the competition. But missing is Leo, the same Leo who misses exams because he stays up all night on his computer. The same Leo who has our precious robot battery, presumably charging overnight, along with the laptop that contains the robot’s instructions coded into it. The same Leo who refuses to answer his phone, or his door, when we drive to his house in a panic. I slammed on his door for a good half hour. You’d think that one of the four tenants who lived there would show a little mercy to me. I no longer wanted Leo, just his technology. As far as I was concerned his ass could stay sleep, I’m sure having been ALT CTRL DEL’ed and logged off not too long ago.
We end up losing our competition because Leo, our computer man, stays up all night on his computer. You live by the chip, you die by the chip. That’s the world that we live in.
There’s nothing that’s made me feel more naked, including when as a teenager my mom caught me actually naked and standing at attention, than when I stood in front of a bunch of people with a presentation ready to go but with technology that was incompatible and wouldn’t work. Ummmmmmm …. yeah.
Maybe today’s technology is just in that awkward teen phase. It grew too big too fast and now stumbles over it’s own feet, not knowing how to interact with us humans. Nice try Siri, but I need more.
I’m tired of flipping over my couch cushions on a regular basis looking for the remote, as I am unable to find the buttons on my giant flat screen TV since they’ve been camouflaged so efficiently. I need adult technology, not pubescent bits and bytes.
Siri, or whatever you’re going to be called in the future, I want you to recognize my stare. I want you to understand that when I focus my eyes on you, it’s because I want something from you. I want you to turn yourself on and change those channels as I wink my right eye. Or flicker my right index finger. Or, as I simply think about it. I want you to read my mind.
I’m tired of sorting laundry, washing dishes, vacuuming the floor, collecting garbage, cooking meals, and shaving. I need you to detect my subtle gestures. I need you to ascertain the status of my house, the smell of my clothes, my blood sugar level, the length of my stubble. I need you to not only do as I say, but do before I say, before I realize, before I think.
I want you to program your minions to swim through my veins and reprogram me. I don’t want to grow old.
These high school robots are so damn annoying, buzzing and whirling about with no apparent purpose. A puppy jumps and plays around with no apparent purpose, but presumably training for a life that it is not yet aware exists. So too, I hope, these little machines are training for a life that they cannot yet conceive of, since their brains are not yet capable of understanding, let alone emoting.
The day will come when they are. And I hope that I am still alive on that day, because I will have a task for them. Not only will I need them to stop the aging process, but flat out reverse it. Because I will be very old on that day, and I will want to be young again. Not young for a time, but forever young. Full circle. Yin yang.
Hey robot, you think you can do that for me when you grow up?