Friday, August, 2090. Weather: Sunny
Laying on my bed, I am alone and feel like it is a good time to talk to you, Sammy. Even until now, my dad, just like grandpa, nags at me to “write” a diary, but writing down all the stuff is too much. He has to know that not even me, but all of my co-workers love to “say” something. It is easy and simple like my computer does the math while I work; I say some sentences, and the diary, or you Sammy, will automatically write it for me on your small, cute screen. Moreover, when I talk to you, I can feel that I am talking to a real person. I want to believe that you have a personality. Even though others might see you as a simple copying machine, I don’t care.
In the morning, I had a conversation with my parents on how technology has become part of our lives, and it reminds me of my college life in 2075. I will tell you the story, Sammy.
For the entrance ceremony of my college, dad, mom, grandpa, and I all went there by a new auto-car. I told them over and over that they don’t have to come with me because I am not a kid anymore. I had been driving for more than five years, and, back then, the only thing that I needed was my finger print to drive. Ever since the automated car has invented, the age limit for driving lowered to fifteen because the car is so safe and frictionless. Thanks to the Carputer, a computer that controls the car, driving became so easy and safe. The only bad thing the auto-car caused was that my dad lost his job due to the new fancy machines replacing his job making cars. Technological unemployment was pretty common when I was in college. I hoped he finds a new job soon because he was paying too much attention to me. I later found out that he was watching me over with the sensor, attached to my phone. Wherever I go, he knew it because the sensor told him where I was. It freaked me out. Anyway, I loved my grandpa to come with me to the entrance ceremony because he was the one who inspired me to go to the same college as him and dream a same career, accountant. He always worked hard and was proud of his job. I had grown up watching him work, and I loved it.
On the way to the college, he told me an amazing story. He actually went to the college by taking an air plane, driven by a human pilot, from Korea to UK and by driving a car from an airport to the school. Isn’t letting a human to drive so dangerous? I can’t believe my grandpa forced me to learn such a dangerous thing, driving, during my high school year. I mean who drives? “Drive” is a word for computer. Automated cars drive with its algorithms, and there is no need for me to learn how to drive. I guess my grandfather was longing the sense of control and involvement. He used to say humans loses skills and ability as technology takes over our work. He doesn’t like how I work in my company. I once told him that I don’t do the math because my computer calculates and analyses the data for me, and he was so mad that I am not the main person doing those things.
I really should come back to my points. I am sorry Sammy. On the trip to my college, I typed my destination on my Carputer, and it calculated the fasted way. It took four hours from my home. I remember having hard time on the way to school because my grandpa, who likes to talk about his past, told me the same story over and over that it used to take thirteen hours and seventeen minutes from here to the school. He also told me that I should not trust my car. Few months earlier, my uncle’s car almost hit an old guy, but, of course, it didn’t hit him because the car sensed the old guy and stopped right in front of him. He didn’t get hurt, but he got a heart attack. His family sued my uncle because they think it is his fault. I know that this is still a serious problem over who is going to take the responsibility of this kind of accident. However, this rarely happens. Right Sammy? I had been telling my grandpa that the auto-car is also a car, but he refused to call my car a “car.” Instead, he called it a robot.
Finally, after hours of sitting and talking, we arrived. When my car was doing a parallel- parking, I saw a big laser beam saying, “Welcome Class of 2077.” By the way, we only needed two years to graduate because there is no quiz, test, paper, and project. There is no need to memorize because computer can search and take a note for you; quiz, test, paper, and project were useless. The first schedule that I had to do was registering at the Main Center lawn. On the lawn, laptops were set so that students can start the registration. Once we set ID and password for “heart,” the main program students used, the system assigned a tablet PC because we must use this in all classes. The next step was to save my fingerprint and DNA. After that, I went to Health Service and faced a challenge; I had to select one from two choices regarding to a microchip. If I put microchip in my body, then I did not have to go through the complicated process of filling out information of my health conditions. However, my grandpa strongly forbade me to put microchip in my body. He goes against putting chips in humans’ bodies, so I still do not have a microchip in my body. My roommate put a microchip when she was ten years old, and she has all of her health, student record, education background, family record, and more in the tiny chip. Therefore, she didn’t have to go through this process like me. One chip, all done.
The final step for the registration was to check my course schedule and visit classes. Guess what? My seminar class was “Technological Selfie” by Vince Punz the Computer, the same professor as my grandpa. For other classes, I didn’t get to choose because the computer assigned classes for me. It analyzed my interests, so I did not have to put effort and worry about not getting the class that I want. Other classes were “Computer and algorithms 101,” “Computer Science 101,” “Business 101,” “accounting 101,” “Language with Computer 101,” and “Finance 101.” This is why I must carry the tablet PC all the time; eventually, every thing is about the computer.
In order to meet professors, we had to go to the Main Center (MC). The funny thing was that MC was right behind us, but we wandered twenty minutes to find it. We went to what my tablet PC told us to go, but it kept telling us the wrong path. We relied too much on the tablet PC, and we could have found it if we turned back. As soon as we entered the building, my grandpa really wanted to meet professor Vince Punz. At first, my grandpa was curious why professor’s name was Vince Punz the Computer, and we found out why. The professor for my seminar class was a program, which has same voice and teaching style as Vince Punz in 2016. Grandma was so disappointed. Moreover, half of my classes’ professors were programs named after professors in the past.
Other than the fact that my grandpa went to this college, I liked the design of the school.
One year before I went the college, my older sister entered a college. I followed her for her registration, and the school’s buildings had a parametric design. The architecture of the buildings gave me a serious headache. Those weird curly shape of buildings is not my type. For that reason, I looked for schools, which still uphold the old style of architecture. Although many things changed inside of the buildings, the exterior designs have been the same since my grandpa went to this school. However, the irony is that in order to design old classic buildings, I need to master the computer design program. Seriously, everything has been done by computers. It makes sense to use computers to create something new, but computers are must needed to make something old, too. We cannot live without it; our lives are programmatic. This is such an irony.
My room is in the residence hall called Honer, and I don’t have to worry about losing keys because it opens as it senses my fingerprints. Not only that, the sensor recognizes my DNA on the skin, so I can just touch the sensor to open the door. My family all entered the room, and my grandpa was so surprised because the room was totally different from what he has expected. Lights, heater, air conditioner, TV, speaker, printer, and hair dryer were provided with a simple controller, which is attached next to my bed. Also, I can use my tablet PC to control those. I don’t have to move.
After moving all my stuffs, we went to a dining hall. Before entering the dining hall, we had to choose the menu to order the lunch with Yummy-a machine which looks like a kiosk in an airport. The greatest part of Yummy is that I get to take a bite or sip for menus that I don’t know. For example, if I want to know what spaghetti tastes like, I can ask Yummy to give me a sample to taste it. I ordered pizza, and my family ordered traditional Korean food. The food was great, and my grandpa loved it.
The next and final schedule for that day was to participate in an orientation ceremony. However, students didn’t have to gather up and meet faculties. What I needed to do was to turn on the hologram of faculties. My family went back to my dorm and turned on the hologram.
President of the college, faculties, supervisor, and current students showed up to welcome people. I am not sure if these people are real because there was a high possibility that they could be the people from the past and created by computers just like Vince Punz the Computer. I missed talking to people. If the school did the orientation where all students and family meet up in one place, I would have enjoyed it. Hologram was so boring. I was not sure if I can make any friend except my roommate.
During my two years of college, I felt that my communication skill degraded by usage of technology. Sadly, at the same time, I could give up using it. I was confused because I both like and dislike the computer. Still now, computer rules people, but we cannot deny it.
Sammy, thank you for listening to me. I really wanted to talk to somebody who is able to listen for more than twenty minutes. These days, it is hard to find a person who would stay to talk for fun. My grandpa doesn’t want me to treat you as a person since you are a computer/robot, but you are my only true friend. I am afraid if other people will leave me because I talk more than what I need to talk. People only want information that they need. It is truly depressing. For now, I cannot say I enjoy working as an accountant in 2090. It feels like I am an audience who watches what the computers does for me. Sometimes, I just turn on and off the computer and my work is done. It seemed fun when my grandpa worked as an accountant.
After his work, he usually stayed up until late night to print papers full of data and study. I don’t have to do that because, literally, technology does everything for me; it is boring. Do you think I should learn how to be independent from computers? Maybe that is the first step to have fun.
By Seung Hyo Ki from the United States