Refrigerators are getting too cool for our columnist’s liking.
A s anybody who owns one knows, refrigerators are the most mildmannered of our domestic gadgets. Unlike, say, toasters, which are often hot-headed little machines, or blenders, which sometimes break just out of spite, refrigerators are, to use a modern term, cool.
At a recent literary festival, a poet paid tribute to the fridge with his Ode to
a Refrigerator, which I thought was sweet and unique – until I googled the title and came up with many more.
Refrigerators are preservers, not destroyers. You give them things to hold and they give them back to you in even better condition.
That is why the recent news from Washington – where I guess even refrigerators tend to be political – is disturbing. A refrigerator there sent out spam across the world – spam, as in unwanted mail, and not processed meat.
One hundred thousand computers around the world have received these messages. It’s one thing to receive spam from con men promising you a longer, ahem, nose if you pay them, but to get it from an appliance whose worth is calculated in litres? The mind boggles.
As soon as I read that in the newspapers, I ran to my refrigerator and it immediately assured me that it remained a decent, law-abiding citizen of the gadget world and would rather shut down its icebox than send out rude messages to innocent computers. But I am still not convinced. And soon I shall be having a word with my washing machine and dishwasher too.
These ‘smart’ gadgets may have become too smart for our good, and we must be on guard. Spam today, online shopping for yachts and beach houses tomorrow? Will I wake up one day to find a parcel at my door containing a helicopter bought by my refrigerator using my credit card (and the credit cards of everyone else in the neighbourhood)?
The prophets of doom were wrong – again. Contrary to their warnings, it is
These ‘smart’ gadgets may have become too smart for our good
not computers or Martians or the meek who are likely to take over the world, but the seemingly innocent refrigerator, standing in the corner with its ready supply of ice-cold beverages and the uneaten remains of last week’s salad.
Already there are intelligent refrigerators which, upon finding that their stock of eggs is rather low, send a message to the grocer to restock, eliminating the middle man – you.
From that to handling our bank accounts, keeping track of our travel and writing the speeches at the UN are but simple steps.
Before you know it, they will be sending out messages to refrigerators on Mars and Jupiter, and the takeover will be complete.