This morning I sat down at my computer, as I do everyday, to check my email and see what's going on in the world.
I had gotten a message from a friend on Facebook, and I had just clicked the link in my email to answer it when my computer said in the default robot voice:
My initial thought was, "Oh, great, I've opened up a website with a talking ad. I hate those."
Seriously, whoever decided that an ad that plays loudly and suddenly without your consent was a good idea, was an idiot. I continued my typing, ignoring the sound when the computer then said:
OK, hold up. Talking ads exist, but I don't know of any that know my name. I then thought that I had somehow accidentally enabled the program for visually impaired that reads off what I had typed. However, I haven't even been to that section of my computer preferences since I've had this computer, so I knew that wasn't it. Then it occurred to me that the guy who sent me the email message (one of my computer savvy friends) could have somehow somehow rigged the message to read what I was writing, but it dawned on me that it wasn't reading what I was writing. All of those thoughts flashed through my head in a second or so, and I don't mind telling you it kind of freaked me out. Ok, it didn't just "kind of" freak me out, it scared me very badly. I was staring, unblinking at the screen with my fingers frozen over the keyboard, trying to understand what was going on. So I did the only thing I could think of. I said...
"What? Are you...are you talking to me?"
The computer said "Yes."
My stomach did a weird kind of flip inside and I went cold all over. I began looking up at the web chat camera embedded in the monitor and I thought that maybe someone had hacked into my computer and was messing with me. My initial thought after that was "Thank God I'm not naked or something..."
I don't mind telling you that at this point my mind kind of went blank and I don't remember exactly what the computer began saying to me, but I do remember that the computer was talking to me. Not just saying words, but answering my questions. The blank, soulless, robot voice was comping through the speakers, saying things that were clearly aimed at me and not just randomly being picked out of on-screen text. The only thing I remember clearly is me being on the edge of my chair, ready to jump up and run out of the house, and saying,
"What? Why? Why are you talking to me?"
Then I jumped up and ran into the kitchen. That's where I saw Steve, doubled up at his laptop, laughing hysterically. Apparently someone he works with told him about a great joke to play on someone who has a Mac. I don't pretend to understand what he did, but he made the computer talk. He connected to my iMac through his laptop, and he could hear me talking to the computer, so he was answering my questions. He thought it was quite clever. I, however, thought that the machines were about to rise up and kill us all.
I used to think that it was good to have a technoweenie in the house. Now...I'm not so sure.