One Button to Rule Them All

The BBC iPlayer Radio app, with button after button of disgusting choice and indefensible flexibility in use, is being replaced with BBC Sounds. I liked the old app but the new one is ‘simpler’ and for people who ‘aren’t familiar with radio’. FFS. Why are upgrades these days all about being simpler? Time was, upgrades would add features. Now they’re taken away because people get scared of ‘complexity’, by which I mean two buttons and a search box. One button makes baby no cry.

We know Apple and other tech manufacturers are on a quest to get to the point where all we have to interact with is a single, wafer-thin non-threatening ear called Hal (you’re fucked if your name is Dave as it won’t work for you and will, in fact, try to kill you) into which we can grunt, “Me want Strictly Come Dancing. You play now.” 

Give it ten years, there’ll be a technological mega-rich elite (oh wait, they already exist) feeding pretty pictures and 15-second-long cat videos (any longer and brains start to melt) down pipes to the masses, who by that point will be soiling themselves regularly and daubing their own faeces on the walls of crumbling buildings in a collective effort to reimagine the wheel.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk will be travelling the globe in a Tesla randomly pointing at the few remaining kind people (he really hates kind people) and accusing them of paedophilia on Twitter for having the perverse desire to rescue boys from drowning in a cave, or whatever else is considered heroic in the future. 

For those of us with memories longer than the last three hours to your last Instagram photo of your most recent meal eaten while riding a unicycle in Guatemala ‘for the hits and lols’, we’ve been here before, when that fateful day arrived known as ‘D-day’ or ‘Dumb Day’ back in the 1990s.

On that day, AOL unleashed millions of hicks from their electronic walled garden of transitory delights onto the wider Internet and unsuspecting Usenet fans. Those Usenet users happily downloading GIFs from the likes of alt.usenet.sexyamputees were suddenly hit by wave after wave of people in loincloths and rabbit fur asking, “What does this button do?” And it was a massacre. It led directly to the creation of Facebook to give those people back their walled garden in an effort to corral them again. Except for the ones with babies. They were directed to Mumsnet where they can spend many happy hours each day plotting the demise of trans people because they just don’t like them. Or each other.

Before long it will be One Button to Rule Them All. Like Sauron’s Eye it  will oversee everything. It will know all. Yet, if only AI could be made to hone our minds rather than weaken them, we might escape the fate of going into evolutionary reverse. “Alexa, what’s the weather today?””Look out the window and find out for yourself, you lazy bastard!”

myfibromyalgia book cover

Andrew’s latest book, myfibromyalgia: one man’s experience of living with chronic illness, is out now in all Amazon store territories the world over. The ebook is £5.99 and the paperback £8.99. UK Amazon link.

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