Jason (jcreed) wrote,

I'm in the Baltimore Amtrak station.

There is a synthesized robot voice making announcements about trains. It sounds very, very much like Portal's GLaDOS, a serene lullaby wafting up from the uncanny valley. There's nothing particularly sinister about what it says, however. At least not until it starts arguing with the human.

Attention Please, the robot voice says. This is a boarding call for Marc four two three. En route to Washington Union station. Passengers should proceed to gate track. For your safety, stand behind the PLATform safety strip until the train comes to a complete stop. Thank you for choosing Marc.

There's an eerie warbling formant on the first syllable of "platform".

"Please disgregard," says the human working the microphone at the front desk, "that announcement for the Marc! The train is not yet ready to board. I can't stop the automated system. Once again, please disregard this and all further boarding announcements. There will be an official announcement when the train is ready to board."

And it goes back and forth, back and forth. The robot saying, with inhuman patience, for the fifteenth time, that the train is ready to board, that passengers should proceed immediately to the train, with an almost-perceptible passive-aggressive edge to the tone of its voice, very pointedly not even acknowledging the human contradicting its message. The human insisting that the robot should not be trusted, apologizing that she is powerless to prevent it from broadcasting falsehoods.

I like sometimes that I am actually living in a dystopian future.
Tags: conferences, travel
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