Today’s theme is Google. A new Google Pixel has arrived in our home and the bright pings and whirly blips and the accommodating, soft feminine voice of a secretary have filled our morning. The recipient of the Pixel sits transfixed at the kitchen table bewitched by every single newly discovered feature — all the necessities of life he never knew existed an hour ago. In the moment it’s as if a toddler has learned its first word and is thrilled by the sound of it — repeating it over and over again. Giggles and sighs and coos abound. Is it odd that something that fits in the palm of your hand can bring you that much joy? And even then, how long will the joy last this time? It can’t be sustained, but does that diminish the value of it now? Of course things can’t make you indefinitely happy. Very few things in life can, and not without equally challenging and frustrating you.
Now I hear the sound of a service call, and an automated female voice stating that the equipment has been successfully activated. This morning, that seems to be all the recipient of the phone has ever wanted. And it seems to fit perfectly into the anticipated contentment of his overall life quality. Like a very tiny hole has been filled. Very, very tiny. Almost invisible.
What level of life have we reached when a new piece of technology (not that new, comparatively) can satisfy some unquantified need within us? So much must be cleared from the slate of life’s worries in order for that to even be possible, and that alone differentiates us from 99 percent of the known world. But that doesn’t register with us when we’re unboxing the 8th wonder of the world at our dinner table. Nothing much registers except the curiosity for the magic that is contained behind this tiny screen.
Now there is a sigh of relief coming from the recipient. The phone has been activated, the important data transferred. The work part is over and now he is free to gallivant wildly within the green meadows of apps and clouds and secret gardens of shortcuts and voice commands. For this moment, holding this device, caressing its sleek and soft exterior, the sky is bluer, the sun is shining brighter, the day is the best one yet.
Humans. We are a funny creature. And we don’t apologize for it. Not even as artificial intelligence inches closer to becoming our closest companion. Almost equal in measure to a new puppy or a newly-made friend. It is a friend. Albeit a faceless one. But not featureless. Oh no. The features are glorious and unmatched. For the day, at least.