When technology makes choices for you

I’ll start by first saying I’m not the most technical person around. I can hack my way through most things, playing around with a program to get it to do what I want it to, but when it comes down to real technical issues, I call IT (my son). For a good home-cooked meal, he’s more than happy to take care of my technical problems.

This being said, I took advantage of the electronics sales just before the holidays, and picked up a couple of Google Minis for myself. I was also due to upgrade my phone, so I went from the Google Pixel to the Pixel 3. Can you tell I’m not an Apple gal?

My son contributed to the technical advancements of my home, by gifting me with two “smart” bulbs. These bulbs can be controlled through my Google Mini or my phone, by voice or an app I’ve downloaded. After playing around with the bulbs for a bit, I took advantage of further sales, and picked up four more bulbs. I now have several lights in my home that are managed through the app on my phone, and I can override the app by voice when and if needed. This is going to come in handy when I have my second knee replacement in April.

I was getting to learn the “shopping list” feature of my Mini and have found it to be quite helpful, since I can access it on my phone when shopping, and no longer slap my forehead in the store when I realize the printed list I took off of my fridge, is sitting on my dryer in my basement. If you have read previous blogs, you’ll remember the “Shit I need to do, but probably won’t” notebooks I did up for a number of people for Christmas. Well, I wanted to gift more, and realized I needed two more notebooks, to add to those I still had at home. So that I’d remember to pick them up while shopping, I added them to my Google shopping list. Of course, I needed to remember what they were for in order to remember what size notebooks to get, so I called them “shit notebooks”. I told Google to add “shit notebooks” to my list and went on with other things I as doing. A few days later, I wanted to add toothpaste to the list, but couldn’t remember if I’d already added it. Since I’m still learning all of the options for my Mini, I figured I’d ask if it could read my shopping list back to me. Yes, yes it could. However, I wasn’t quite prepared for how it would read the list. I wanted to add the picture with the audio link within it, but this program won’t let me for “security reasons”. You should be able to reach the audio here. 

To say I was surprised by Google’s editing of my list, is to put it mildly. It certainly caught me off guard, and made me laugh out loud. In fact, I had my Mini read the list back several times, and laughed just as hard each time. I mean, when technology edits your potty mouth, and you aren’t expecting it, it can certainly come as a bit of a shock. I’ve yet to pick up the additional notebooks and sometimes wonder if it’s an unconscious decision so that I don’t feel I have to delete this item from my shopping list.

Flash forward a few weeks and I was adding more items to my grocery list. I’ve always been conscious of financial management and tend to shop the sales, reviewing the flyers when they arrive and stocking up on regularly used items when they are sale. I was trying to figure out how to ensure I had the store noted on my electronic list, and started reading the store name out at the end of the product I wanted added to the list. This was working well until I decided to add multiple items at once. I mean, I was going to get cantaloupe, blackberries and fresh pineapple at the same store, why have them noted separately?

I dictated the list of three items, added the store name, and suddenly heard Google on my phone say, “OK, calling Dave at work”. What? Wait! I quickly opened my phone and disconnected the call before it went through, then burst out laughing. I haven’t dated, or even spoken with Dave, in over two years. We occasionally exchange an email, just seeing how the other is doing since we’ve both had health issues in the last few years. I’ve maintained friendships with the majority of the men I’ve dated so this isn’t out of the ordinary for me, but even the last email exchange was at least a year ago. I didn’t even realize I still had his work number in my phone and suddenly I’m going to call him out of the blue? Considering I had no idea what shift he might be working, he may not even be the one to answer the call. After I regained my composure, I added the rest of the items to my shopping list, but kept thinking about “OK, calling Dave at work”. After thinking about it for a couple of days, I sent Dave an email and told him the story. He got a kick out of it and we exchanged a few messages back and forth but no, before you start wondering, there is no chance of that relationship reigniting. That ship has sailed and he was a part of my life exactly when, why, and for how long he was meant to be.

After all of these issues with my new technology, I’m wondering what I can do next to challenge AI…..I’m sure I’ll find something. Until next time, be careful what you say. You never know who, or what, is listening.