I was returning to our apartment in the city after having a completely wretched 1.5 hour experience at the Corte Madera Apple Store. Apple said my phone needed a simple $29 battery replacement; so, I scheduled the repair appointment. Well, no. Each new repair solution grew significantly in price. We went from $29, then to $99, then to $399, then to around $800 less a $195 rebate.
My third party battery replacement1 voided the expired warranty, but Apple was caught in a PR nightmare over throttling these old phones2 and supposedly offered to replace the old batteries, no questions asked, for this low $29 fee. Well, no, not $29 any more. That was a lie. Their reason for why my product would not be repaired: it might present a “dangerous biohazard” to their repair person.
Multiple “associates” used the phrase repeatedly, including the store manager: “dangerous biohazard.” Obviously that doublespeak is part of the officially sanctioned rip-off-the-customer script. They repeated the words “dangerous biohazard” so many times I finally blurted out, “Just save the ‘dangerous biohazard’ bullshit for someone who might buy into that PR nonsense. I don’t.” After my angry outburst, then, of course, we moved on to the next, more expensive option. Well, no. Not really. Their system wouldn’t allow that option. So, the next, more expensive option… Rinse and repeat. Holy cow! Diamond-priced products. Platinum-priced warranties.3
Anyway, I wasted almost 3 hours for this entirely non-productive experience which included driving in horrible rush hour traffic in an “atmospheric river”— which is Bay Area speak for a day-long rain. Oh, and let’s not forget my getting rear-ended while stopped at a red light less than a half mile from the apartment. I got out of the car in the rain to check the damage.
“I don’t think I hit you.” she said innocently in an aren’t-I-just-too-adorable-to-hit-your-bright-orange-car-nobody-can-see-stopped-at-the-red-light tone of voice with a big smile as she sat in her car. Her voice even had this delicate, all but charming little lilt on the word “think.” Oops, boo-boo?
“Yes. You did!” I curtly replied, completely annoyed by her trying to lie her way out of it. She knew she had hit me. In my rear view mirror I saw her back her car up after doing so! Not my day! I didn’t see any damage to my car but noticed that this was not the first time her car’s front end has hit something. I guess she just expected me to run the completely red light when I got to the intersection.4
But I’m just venting. None of this has anything to do with my milestone event! Well, maybe a little.
This ChangeD Everything
Anyway, as I was approaching the Golden Gate Bridge, a Tesla Model X came up along side of me in the next lane over as we were making our way through the atmospheric river. It was driving along side of me for several minutes in the dense but fast-moving traffic. I was terribly, terribly uncomfortable with this fact.
I literally was thinking, “What if that car is being driven by Tesla’s shitty autopilot technology ?! This car could kill me!” Seriously, I absolutely didn’t want to be anywhere near it. Who, or what, was driving it through the atmospheric river?!5
What if the programers didn’t plan adequately for auto piloting through an atmospheric river?! What if the engineering team didn’t expect this much rain and fog and wind combined with the color of my car?! I mean, a real human being couldn’t even see my bright orange car stopped at a red light!
I have officially reached a point where I want that technology off of the roads—and not just Tesla’s death technology. I realized I now subconsciously have internalized a milestone mind shift: I no longer trust technology in a much more general sense. It might represent a “dangerous biohazard” to the unsuspecting and generally unaware. I now officially see technology not as a solution, but as a bridge to other, as of yet unknown or not fully understood problems. Sometimes those problems are quite serious—kill you dead kind of serious: the ultimate dangerous biohazard.
If I must be killed6 , I think I would prefer to be killed directly by another person. I’d rather die at the hands of “I don’t think I hit you.” I think the odds might be greater for identifying and holding that person accountable. It was Colonel Mustard in the dining room with the candle stick! Knowable. Analogue. Observable.
I don’t want to be murdered by some team’s lack of programming expertise or algorithmic design inexperience or failure to completely understand all of the parameters of every possible scenario or a combination of all of that along with the engineering team’s hardware failure. A good old analogue killing just seems more in keeping with thousands of years of human death, more natural, more comprehensible and less “it’s really not anybody’s fault7. The sensor did it.” Or, “We suspect a computational error in the central processor killed him. We’re not sure; but, it could have been a kernel panic. Our systems indicate the car could have been hijacked by Chinese, Russian, or North Korean hacker trolls using a direct unauthorized satellite link to the car’s internal radar systems.”
In this new, 21st century version of the Clue(-less) board game, it was the Russian hacker on the Golden Gate Bridge with the Tesla Model X. I win! I win! And to play this game is going to cost you top dollar, because, by careful design, you have no Clue! Now pay us your money and shut up.
We’re addicted. We’ve bought the lie that technology is the solution to all of our problems. Technology is progress. No. I don’t buy it any more. I suspect technology just scales up the problems exponentially, faster than humans can manage them; so, we need more technology. Right? Yet another rinse and repeat…
Tim doesn’t like, and he’s in a complex and multi-layered mood!
At one-third the price of Apple’s out of warranty repair cost ↩
To force you to buy a new one? Um Hmm. ↩
Reminds me of those lyrics that go something like: “If your lips are moving, if your lips are moving, If your lips are moving, then you’re lyin’, lyin’, lyin'” It’s like Trump! ↩
She was probably busy and in a hurry and special and texting and taking a selfie and all of that. Because, well, 21st century… ↩
In the Bay Area, Teslas are as common as F-150s are in Atlanta. ↩
Mind you, I have no desire to be! ↩
Certainly not the tech <em>corporation’s</em> fault: no, no, no! ↩