Attack Gorillas, Automated Routines, and Best Case Scenario

In Congo, Michael Crichton tells the story of a society that was destroyed when it trained attack gorillas to monitor all parts of its society. Treacherous gorillas! They took over, just like the robots in I, Robot did. Actually, Crichton’s gorillas were just an allegory for computers. In 1980, Crichton was already warning that we were turning over a great deal of our intelligence and decision making to computers.

Thankfully, gorillas have not taken over North America, but perhaps Crichton was on to something with computers.

To start, we have largely replaced people with automated systems. And in some systems, we have simply automated people. I called an organization recently to get help with an application, but the human being I talked to was only capable of directing callers to FAQ URLs. Unfortunately, if the website doesn’t have the information, it may well be that no one does. Too often, the people on the other end of the phone may as well be computer programs because they are not trained to answer additional questions.

Oddly, I think one of my greatest strengths is creating automatic mental routines that allow me to carry out my tasks without taking up too much of my brain’s energy. I rarely forget things at home, but I often get from my home to work or to the gym without consciously thinking at any point. Although I am probably thinking about what I’m reading or writing, anyone looking at me would think I was an automated routine.

In contrast, my wife is terrible at creating routines.

She’s forgetful too.

It’s come to the point that I now have daily routines in place to ensure that my wife arrives work with her lunch, laptop, etc. It’s bizarre, but I somehow always know where my wife’s cell phone is. She now asks me where things are on a daily basis. There is no conscious effort involved, but I’m good at it.

I’ve always been proud of this ability to organize my life so that it largely takes care of itself. However, lately, I’ve begun to consider that my personal accomplishment is simply an individual mirror of a larger trend that I have come to oppose. Like the physicists, I’ve been finding it difficult to reconcile my views on macro and micro routines.

I’d like to think that we would return to a world that values humanity, but these days, humans are just resources. Best case scenario: We become cyborgs.


2 Responses to “Attack Gorillas, Automated Routines, and Best Case Scenario”

  1. Very thought provoking! And oddly, my husband can find my cell, keys and random articles of clothing even when I cannot. My least favorite thing to hear in the morning, “I don’t know where you (article of clothing) is. I wasn’t wearing it last”. (As he hands me said article of clothing…)

    • I tried snarky replies for a while too. When I noticed that it wasn’t helping my wife to find her phone, I just gave it up and resorted to a series of automated routine. Now, every time I see my wife’s phone, my brain takes a note.

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