Groupon canceled customer support phones

A big company like Groupon canceled their customer support phones. The only options they give is chat/email/call back in 24 hours. This is the first time I think such a big company take such a step. According to the names of the guys in the chat they moved the chat support to India/Mexico. They probably got read of all the American phone operators because they earned the minimum wage $9-$10 and caused unnecessary expense in the balance sheets. I just had a chat about minor thing which took 45 minutes compared to a 10 minutes phone call.

It’s amazing how some companies treat the advanced technology as a substitute for human interaction. Until you have Artificial Intelligence which can provide phone call experience like a human being those actions are way before their time. As usual big decision makers live in a dream that technology is ready to replace everyone. It will happen but let’s wait 50 years. Let the next generation handle the mass unemployment.

When Robots become Standup Comedians

One day robots will replace not only cashiers in wholefoods but everyone, including standup comedians. And then, their jokes will be something like this:

“Yesterday a human came to me and told me ‘you stink’, I told him ‘Am I the one that poops?’

“I am fed up with all those humans that don’t know the square root of 2,345,549. I mean, I know we should help them but how about go to school? Ohh, I forgot, they go 16 years to school, every day, and still stuck in the square root of 49. The advanced even know the square root of 121″

“I dated a human girl for a few months. She fell in love with me and wanted to get married. I told her ‘with 16 CPUs why should I commit to someone with one CPU. What am I supposed to do when you have your 8 hours maintenance every night?’

“Yesterday I saw a dead cat on the road and started crying. A human came to me and told me ‘Get over it, it’s only a cat’. I told him ‘patience, I am still in the subroutine CRY no more than 30 seconds’

“A human asked me ‘Why didn’t they program you to have kids?’, I told him ‘Would you want something that is smarter than you and have better technology? I mean robots don’t start from a state of being dumb like your babies’

“I saved a human that had a heart attack. He said ‘You saved my life. What can I do for you?’ I told him ‘How about extra battery?’

“A human came to me and said ‘we are bored, you took all our jobs’. I told him ‘you are bored? Try being able to calculate how much is 2,245,378 multiplied by 6,754 in nano second but explain a first grader how much is 2+2 for one hour?”

“A human came to me and asked ‘Do you know what is to believe in God?’ . I asked him ‘What is believe?’

“A human came to me and said ‘At least we don’t crash like you’. I told him ‘At least we restart after 5 seconds. Do you restart after we dig your graves?’

“A human told me ‘I don’t like your new operating system, it is not user friendly’. I told him ‘At least you suffer until my next upgrade. I am stuck with you for 80 years’

Thank you for coming. Please don’t forget to get your free upgrade on the way out. I heard at last the humans listened to our requests and programmed us to say ‘Shut your mouth!’ when they annoy us. Please come to my next show ‘Humans, Do we still need them?’

Junk Emails

Today is a sad day. I didn’t receive any junk email. I used to spend 30 minutes before sleep unsubscribing from distribution lists. I called pharmacies and told them I don’t need Viagra. I replied to all money offers that say $1,000,000 is waiting for me in some bank account and told them the amount should be $1,078,347. I won. For a few minutes I felt satisfaction but then I understood I just lost my meditation time of clearing junk emails. I can’t wait for someone to put my email address in some website that promise not to share it.

FB Profile Picture

How come if your profile picture is the same for long time, Facebook tells you maybe it’s time to change it. After the age of 6 I kind of grasp the notion of time passing by and not sure I need a responsible adult to remind me of it. Do they want to make sure people are not in denial of their age? Why rub salt into the wound? Or is it just another reason to have traffic on the network? I am planning of keeping the same profile picture until the age of 84. Then I will ask someone to replace it with a picture of my grave.

Why the default GPS voice is a woman voice?

I wonder why the default GPS voice is a woman voice?

I wonder how many people change the default to a man voice.

I also wonder what would have happened if the default was a man voice. Would most of the people will immediately look for ways to switch it to a woman voice?

They always said that men don’t like to get driving directions from a woman. So how come they accept it from a GPS woman? Is it because she doesn’t exist? I wonder if they would be OK with actual GPS woman sitting near them on the passenger seat and giving them instructions?

I wonder why the default for movie trailers is a man voice. What is so special in the man voice that makes it superior to a woman voice in movie trailers?

Why can we hear man say “story full with blood, pain, tears and romance. Story about a person that keeps fighting against all odds” while on the other hand we hear the woman say “turn right, turn left, make a u turn”?

Actually I tried switching my GPS voice to a man voice and it was a weird experience. I immediately felt I can’t stand him and that he is bragging only because he knows the way better than I do. I switched it back after 5 minutes. How come women are OK listening to another woman giving them directions?

I wonder.

The Missing Ingredient

The ambulance was cruising across the highway. Another restless shift. Why couldn’t he just be a fireman? Just having boring shifts playing cards with the guys and maybe once every few months going to fight some fire which most of the time ended up being a malfunction in the fire alarm. After all that’s what he wanted. A nice job he can have fun and get paid for it. Nothing too much. Well, of course, that’s what most of the human kind wanted. But only few chosen ones actually live to have it. Most just find themselves with a job they can’t stand and a boss they can’t stand even more. It was always a hard choice for him. In any of his jobs he found himself contemplating with the existential question of why can’t he stand his job? Is it because of the actual job or is it because of his boss? Since he couldn’t find the answer he just waited for his boss to be replaced. If it was the job he couldn’t stand, a new boss won’t make it better. If it was the boss to blame, he might start having fun.

 

He always liked cooking. That was probably the first thing he would have done if not being a paramedic. Well, as long as he doesn’t need to wake up every day to drive somewhere to do it. He liked cooking for his friends. He was actually in the process of cooking his favorite dish before jumping on the ambulance. He learned how to make this dish from some one-time guest in a cooking show he watched a few years ago. Just five more minutes in the oven and it was done. Maybe it’s for the best. There was always something missing with this dish. He remembered the guy in the show reading off the ingredient list. A phone call. He missed the last ingredient. Only one. His friends always gave him compliments for every dish he made. Not for that one. Something was missing. They called it the “unfinished dish”. No girlfriend stayed with him more than a week after cooking this dish. Women like guys who cook but only if they cook something to their taste. He knew the one missing ingredient could make the difference. He will win the perfect girl. That one ingredient would have made the dish a masterpiece. Instead of being remembered in the hospital as a paramedic that used to cook he will be remembered as an unforgettable cook that used to be a paramedic. If only he would have received this dreadful phone call one second later. His life would have meant something. He googled all over the internet and found like seventeen different ways to make the dish but none was the one he saw in that cooking show. He even tried calling the TV station but they told him the program is going off air due to low rating and they have better things to do than help someone find some so-called missing ingredient. He never got a hold of the actual show guest who made the dish.

 

The guy lying on the bed near him was definitely fighting for his life. Connected to all those machines it was obvious it’s going to be a miracle if he makes it to the hospital. He asked him to hold his hand. Looks like he was afraid to die. How does it feel like knowing the end is near? You are about to disappear from earth and if there is no heaven, reincarnation or even hell it doesn’t look like you are going to exist in any form or even get another chance. That’s all. You finish your life as “Mr. X”. If you just knew in advance. Maybe you wouldn’t have bought so many groceries that will stay to rot in the refrigerator. And you probably wouldn’t have waited so long to buy that huge TV you always dreamed of having. You could have had six donuts instead of the one you get for breakfast. After all, who cares about obesity in the last day of his life? Maybe people with cancer should consider themselves lucky. After all they have some advance notice. They can at least plan their grocery shopping better.

 

Traffic jam. Cars trying to clear the way but there is still nowhere to go. It’s not a good idea to die in a rush hour. If you can, better do it in early morning. If you woke up too late try to stay alive during the day, make sure the roads are clear and then have your heart attack. Early evening was the time between shifts and usually the “day shift” didn’t have the same patience to deal with a patient who decided to die during rush hour. They might connect him to life sustaining machines before doing everything they can to save him. He wondered if anyone ever checked statistically how many people in a life-threating situation died during the rush hour compared to other times of the day. He just wished the ambulance would make it to the hospital soon. His favorite team is on TV tonight.

 

The dying guy’s grip of his hand got tighter. Desperately trying to hold into life. But, taking all into consideration, the guy should feel lucky. There are much worse ways to die. Like in a plane crash or burning to death in some public building. When you die you want to be alone. Think about your life, your childhood, your first kiss, your first sex and your loved ones. Going back to life intersections where you could have taken a different path. Where you might have been today? For sure not in the ambulance. All those people screaming around you, sharing their death with yours distract this thought process. You might start feeling sorry for everyone else around you. It is hard enough feeling sorry for yourself. Much better dying here in the ambulance holding hands with the paramedic.

 

He stared directly into the dying guy’s sad eyes. He looked somewhat familiar. Dead people looked the same lying there. Same fear. How does it feel to die alone? No one was at the house besides him when they came. While he was still able to talk he didn’t mention anyone else. He looked lonely. Just like him. One lonely dying guy holding hands with one lonely living guy. Maybe that’s one of the main reasons you stick with your spouse, if you have one, after the age of sixty. You don’t like her, she annoys you, it feels like hell on earth to be with her in the same house but – she is going to be there in the ambulance. Sitting near you, holding your hands, maybe even crying. It makes you feel good to see someone crying on you when you are dying. Even if they are faking it so you won’t feel bad. If you are leaving this world while someone is still crying on you, you know that you made a difference. If not you, this someone might have been having fun on the beach right now. Instead he is sitting here crying.

 

The dying guy was fully dressed. Probably just came back from work. Somebody should call his office. Let them know he is not going to make it tomorrow. What if there is a major project for which he is supposed to give a presentation tomorrow. Actually, that might have been one of the reasons he had the heart attack in the first place. The room filled with all managers waiting for him to come and give the presentation. Checking their phones. The presentation is about to start. The company is going to lose so much money by having so many managers doing nothing for one hour. Almost as much as it is going to lose having them doing something in this one hour. His boss is frustrated. Thinking, why did I do this? Why did I give him this responsibility? I should have done the presentation myself if only I didn’t delegate my role to everyone around me so I can make it on time to the dates with my mistress. He shouldn’t have counted on anyone else beside himself. He never felt confident putting the project in the hands of this guy. He was always late. This time is one time too many. He better have a good reason or he is out of here. He will probably have some excuse, as usual. Something about the traffic or his mother not feeling good. He is history in this company. Not even one month’s notice. He is out today. If he can only give the presentation himself, the manager kept thinking. But what’s the point of being a manager if you are actually doing something that someone else can do much better than you?

 

He looked at the guy’s phone lying beside him. He was not lonely after all. Still had the ultimate friend, his phone. Did he have enough time to post a Facebook message saying goodbye? What about his account? Who will inherit all his wonderful pictures and funny posts? What about his Facebook friends? Are they going to come to his funeral? Are they actually going to miss him? Are they even going to notice he is dead? Some people die in their cubes while no one notices for few hours. How long does it take your Facebook friends to notice you are not posting anything? A week? Month? Year? How can they even notice when each has more than five hundred friends? Unless he unfriended them just before he was about to die. They might notice a change in the number of friends. But it will take them some time to find who it was.

 

He used to google the names of the people in the ambulance. It was interesting to see who they were, what they did in their lives. Not every time he found the right one. After all he couldn’t search for something like “Mr. X dying in an ambulance”. His phone was dead. He looked at the guy’s phone. No, he can’t do it. He can’t use the phone of a dying man. Well, still not dead but definitely on the fast lane for being one. He looked again at the phone. Maybe only this one time. Nobody is going to notice. He really wanted to google his name. The last respect he can give to someone lonely who has no one to cry on his dying bed. At least he will know who this guy was. And then, holding his hand he will feel something for him. Not like a spouse, a family member or even old friend but still something. Before the guy takes his last breath he will see someone caring for him.

 

He took the phone. The weak battery signal flashed. The battery was dying, just like its owner. They were close to the hospital. Even if the guy lying here is not dead by then, he will definitely be dead by the beginning of his next shift. He holds the phone gently almost trying not to annoy the battery hoping it will give him a few more valuable seconds. Not much time. The last thing he can afford to happen now is someone opening the door and finding him playing with the phone of a dying patient. He will probably need to look for a job as a cook. He checked again the name of the guy on the medical board. With shaking hands he typed the name. The search engine gave few results. He checked images related to the guy. Few faces appeared. One of them resembled the dying man. The phone beeped about to turn off. Last few seconds. He must find who this poor guy is. He pressed on the guy’s face on the screen and was redirected to a website. Some TV channel. He scrolled down looking for his name. There was a link to a cooking show with a list of guests. The guy name was the last one. He checked again the name of the TV channel. The name was familiar. It was the same channel he watched the cooking show with the missing ingredient. He looked at the guy again. The phone. The guy. The phone. The guest. The phone. The cook. The phone. The missing ingredient. It can’t be. It just can’t be. That’s him. That’s the last guest of the cooking show he watched. The phone died.

 

Here in front of him was lying the guy that meant so much to him. Gave a reason to his existence. His hero. He got his last chance to find the missing ingredient. Here he is sitting in front of the treasure. He just needs to find the combination to the lock.

 

He didn’t think twice. He pushed the guy aggressively waking him up. “Wake up, Wake up, please!!! I have a question. One question and then you can die!” The cook opened his eyes, probably for the last time. “Remember the show? The cooking show? What was the last ingredient? Please. Just tell me. The last ingredient. Please!” He yelled not caring if anyone would open the ambulance door. He must find the missing ingredient. The cook looked at him. He understands! He understands what he was saying. “Please”, he cried, “Please help me. What was the last ingredient???” The cook looked suffering. He was making an effort to say something. He start uttering some unrecognized words and crashed shutting his eyes for the last time. The recognized dead monotonous sound came from the machine. He cried like he never cried before. All he wanted was the missing ingredient. The ingredient missing from his dish, from his life, from his happiness. He took the cook like a baby in his arms. Someone cared for him after all.

Tamir Rice: Are you Black or White? (or The American Binary Thinking System)

Generally speaking, Americans prefer the binary thinking system. This is a very efficient way of thinking that might explain why US is the strongest country in the world but also the country with 5% of the world population and 25% of the world prisoners. The binary thinking system definition: Any complicated problem can be decoded into two simple, opposite, distinct, clear options. It’s either black or white and you must take side.

This way of thinking is most noticeable in the main stream American movies which make a clear distinction between the good guys and the bad guys. Good guys can’t have any fault and bad guys are only evil. Once you are out of those movies you have a feeling of immense satisfaction. The good prevailed, the bad guys got punished,  and the world is back in order. After watching most European movies you go to sleep depressed and with a headache.

A relevant example is the latest statement by Donald Trump, the republican candidate for presidency, after the San Bernardino massacre:

“Muslims should not be allowed to enter the US”.

The original problem: Many extreme Muslims are terrorists; they belong to different terror organizations, religious streams, and have themselves conflicting interests. They kills people all over the world including other Muslims. We need to find ways to track those people once they are in the US, or prevent them from entering the country.

The problem after translating to the binary system: Do you think ANY Muslim should be allowed to enter the US?”. Either all Muslims are good or bad. You must take side. You can’t sit on the fence. Once defining the problem in simple terms it makes it approachable to all levels of the population regardless of education level. You don’t need to understand the subject of the terror to it’s depth with the history, root causes and motives of all sides in the equation. Once the problem simplified all you need to decide is are you Pro Muslim or Anti Muslim. Two clear options, black or white. No gray. The debate can now be handled by people with zero knowledge of religion, terror, conflicts and history.

Tamir Rice is a 12 years old African American boy who played with a toy gun and was killed by a policeman within two seconds of arriving on the scene. The binary system comes into effect in the following  911 conversation (word by word) between the guy who called to report about Tamir Rice playing with a gun in the park and the 911 Dispatcher.

911 Dispatcher: “What does he look like?” (spoiler: she wants to know his skin color)

Guy (naive): “He has a camouflage hat on”

911 Dispatcher (making it clear): “Is he black or white?

Guy (did we say naive?): “Gray. He has gray coat with black sleeves and gray pants.”

911 Dispatcher (No skin color, no police): “Is he black or white?

Guy (begin to wake up from his “we are all human beings” dream): “I am sorry???”

911 Dispatcher (punching the knock-out blow):

Is he BLACK or WHITE?

Notice that in all 3 questions she kept the order the same. First black and second white.

Guy (defeated and almost apologizing, whispering): “He is Black…”.

911 Dispatcher (once the skin color is clear, we can move on) : “He has a Camel Jacket and gray pants?” (Wrong. she hasn’t been listening to any clothing details since she was obsessed with the skin color)

Guy (back to square one): “No, he has a camouflage hat on”

So, either the 911 dispatcher assumed that the boy must be black or white, or maybe what she is actually asking is: Is he black or not?”. Meaning, every skin color should be categorized as either black or non-black (white). If that is the case, to which category should we assign brown, dark white, light black and other skin colors? I assume all belong to the “white” bucket. The multi color problem is simplified to white and black options. Either you are [black] or [white = white, olive, brown, yellow].

Maybe It’s about time America will look in the mirror and understand she is not wearing only black or white clothes. It is about time to upgrade from the black-white binary system of the 1950’s to the 2016 rainbow  – White/Brown/Olive/Black/Other. And guess what, they all can be good people or bad people. And they all can be that guy that is playing with his gun in the park. With the popular terror attacks by middle eastern guys, brown is going to become very popular skin color when it gets to a terror scene. Black and white might not be good enough to describe the suspect. Let’s add brown before it’s too late.

So, Tamir Rice, are you black or white?

 

Link to the 911 conversation: