A friend (yes, I do have some) once said that ‘no good deed goes unpunished’. There is only one thing worse than being right about such things, and that is having a friend who is right about such things. In this particular case the good deed never did eventuate. The good intention was hammered to death before it ever became a deed. The good deed was requested via email. I replied via a computer that I had not used previously. I expect I was red flagged anyway and this was the excuse they needed.
This woke up a sleepy algorithm snoozing in a Microsoft service-providing computer out in deepest darkest Faroffistan. It decided in its electronic wisdom that something suspicious had happened. It had slept through Joe Biden getting more votes than Trump did lately and Obama ever did previously. It dreamed on when the entire South Island of New Zealand voted Labour for the first time in this country’s history. Nothing suspicious there. But when Professor Worzel uses a ‘different device’ (its words not mine) to send an email, global alarm bells rang.
The machine was roused. In the interests of cyber security, it told me I must verify my account to its satisfaction before I could again access my email. I tried, I really did, but after 14 years I couldn’t remember whether it was Chris Sellars or Prof Worzel who first opened the account. This was further complicated by the fact that neither of us has a favourite movie. I could not recall what, if anything, I had put in that box previously.
I am, and have always been, allergic to forms. I resent any manifestation of bureaucracy trying to pigeonhole me into easily digestible data. Forms challenge my creative tendencies and I tend to fill them out as creatively as I am able. For instance, once when filling out a gun licence renewal form it asked if I was ever subject to violence? I ticked ‘yes’. It asked ‘if yes, when’. I answered ‘Winter Saturdays at 2pm’. It asked ‘have the authorities been informed?’ I answered ‘the authorities organise it’. It asked if I had any gang affiliations and I listed the Otamatea Rugby Club and The Maungaturoto Squash Club. I was at that time a patched member of both.
I tried to play its silly games but after many hours and many attempts I failed to convince the presiding automated service provider that I was me. The web page said ironically ‘we’re here to help’. They didn’t. After exhausting my allotted number of attempts to get my own information correct, I then managed to track down an American accented Microsoft employee in the Philippines. We had a protracted conversation during which she constantly assured me that ‘Microsoft takes the security of your information very seriously’. So seriously it seems that even though I have my address and my password I can’t even get to it myself. I told her that I wish they wouldn’t take it so seriously and that the entire point of my email account was so I can exchange information, not keep it locked up. She too wasted my time and was no help whatsoever.
The spirits of the air do not like me. I steadfastly remain an analogue man in a digital world. I refuse to pay them homage and everyone knows or should know by now that these minions of the devil run the internet. They are mischievous elves, pixies, sprites and gremlins of the hobgoblin family who dislike people and seek to dull their minds and steal their souls. This is all in accord with the burgeoning ‘Cancel Culture’ the rise of censorship and the campaign against free speech. It is no less than I should have expected but it annoys none the less for that.
Since then I have routinely attempted to recover my account by using my daily allotment of forms and submitting them to the master machine. One day I may succeed in getting the form in an appropriate order to appease the electronic jailer and release my account from cyber prison. Until then my new email address is email@example.com.
So let this be a warning to any and all who may be tempted to buy in to the proposed transhumanist agenda – those of you who are ready to embrace smart cities, 5G, the surveillance state, a social credit system and the internet of things. Be advised that you will no longer be in control of your own destiny or master of your soul but you will be subject to the whims of algorithms programmed by anonymous boffins who may take the wrong things seriously, who may have different priorities and values than you, who may make mistakes and force you to be a victim of unintended consequences. Once you merge with the machine you can be invalidated at any time, without evidence, without witnesses, without a trial, without rhyme or reason. And there is little that can be done by way of appeal.
Feedback? Email prof_ firstname.lastname@example.org