“So, on the weekend we were over at my sister’s – the one married to the small animal vet – and it’s getting dark and my brother-in-law says, ‘Google, turn on the lights’ and the lights come on,” said Dave Winston when the gang gathered at Mabel’s Grill one Monday morning.
“He’s got one of those home hubs,” said Cliff Murray. “I’ve seen Google’s really pushing them on TV.”
“And their cell phones, too,” said Molly Whiteside as she filled the guys’ cups.
George shook his head. “Seems like only yesterday I didn’t know what people meant when they said Google, and now it’s everywhere?
“With you, it was only yesterday,” laughed Molly.
“My sister’s got a smart fridge, too,” said Dave.
“What in heck’s a smart fridge?” asked George.
“It’s hooked up to the internet and it keeps track of whether you’re running low on milk or eggs or whatever,” said Cliff.
“Oh, I remember seeing that advertised on TV,” said George. “There’s this refrigerator with a big screen on the door that says ‘Hello’ and the woman customer immediately tells the sales clerk ‘We’ll take it!’”
“Must be a rich shopper,” said Molly. “I’d have to think long and hard before forking over $3,000 to $4,000 for a refrigerator.”
“You’re kidding! That much?” asked George. “I can make a lot of grocery lists for that price.”
“Oh?” wondered Molly. “You make the grocery lists in your house, do you?”
“Your brother-in-law was pretty proud of all these gadgets, was he?” asked Cliff.
“Oh, he only managed to bring up the subject every minute and a half,” sighed Dave.
“Next time you see him, tell him all those smart gadgets could be listening in on his family,” said Cliff.
“Listening in?” asked George.
“I was reading that they’ve found some of these systems that are connected to the internet are collecting information about people’s preferences from things they say in their conversations,” said Cliff.
“I wouldn’t have one of those things even if I could afford it,” said Molly. “I heard that sometimes people’s cameras are even being turned on and take pictures of them walking around naked.”
“Now that’s a frightening thought,” said Dave. My brother-in-law’s put on a lot of weight and it would not be a pretty sight to have him broadcast naked!”
“Probably his smart fridge keeps reminding him to order the snacks that make him fat,” said Molly.
“Yes, all this electronic stuff is going to make it even harder to stay thin,” said Cliff. “I hear even McDonald’s is using AI?”
George looked bewildered. “McDonald’s is using artificial insemination?”
Now it was Cliff’s turn to look baffled until he figured it out. “Not that AI, they’re talking artificial intelligence,” he laughed.
“Everybody’s using initials for everything these days and they’re using the same ones for different things,” grumbled George.
“Anyway, McDonald’s has bought this tech company that has a program that allows them to change the menus on their drive-thrus – say cold drinks instead of coffee on a hot summer day. They’re even talking about taking pictures of license plates so they can offer you a personalized menu of all your favourites when you’re coming up to the order window. Apparently, they’ve already noticed people are ordering more.”
“Oh, we really needed that!” said Molly. “We’ve already got a problem with too many people being obese and now they’re going to make it worse.” She turned to go back to the kitchen but stopped and asked, “Did you want your usual coffee and doughnut to take with you, Dave?”
“Ha!” laughed Cliff. “Mabel doesn’t need any fancy AI system. She’s got Molly.”◊