The Robot Wars
The Robot Wars
For decades, mankind has feared the day technology becomes cleverer than us. Now it’s here, and we were too busy trying to sync our Sonos to notice. Welcome to The Big Techover...
Lauren Bravo

Every morning for the past few weeks, I have woken up sweating.

I’ve woken up sweating because the heater next to my bed has been on for an hour, turning the room into a kind of DIY Bikram-yoga studio.

The reason I have continued to wake up sweating is that I am too scared to go near, and upset the balance of, our app-controlled heating system, which is more sensitive than the proverbial snowflake. I can’t work out how to change it without plunging the whole flat into microclimatic chaos. What if I somehow offend the app? What if the app turns against us?

At first, we loved the app. We felt so powerful. ‘This is the future,’ we squealed all winter, whacking the thermostat up from the comfort of our stool in the pub. But now, months later, the app has the power and I have to sleep with one leg out from under the duvet. ‘This is the future,’ we whimper, chugging water as soon as the alarm goes off. ‘This is how we must live now.’

You live like this as well, right? You have a fitness tracker under the bed, banished because you can’t get it to sync with your other devices. A smoke alarm that lives in the freezer because it won’t stop bleeping. You’ve had meetings on the floor of a work corridor because nobody can unlock the flashy ‘agile’ meeting room. You’ve held up a queue at a ticket barrier because you’re determined to pay with your Apple Watch. Right? Right.

‘Why don’t you just call the helpline?’ an alien or an idiot might ask. But the helpline is automated too, and our account number is in an old inbox we’re now locked out of. I don’t want to sound melodramatic, but is … is this how the apocalypse starts?

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December 2019