A conversation in Hades

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
5 July, 2019

We cannot vouch for the authenticity of the following conversation that mysteriously arrived in my Inbox. The sender’s name was Dante, surely a fake.

“Hands up those of you who have been killed crossing the road while text messaging.”

“OK, now keep your hands up only if you are an American. I thought so … mainly Americans.”

“It is because of the likes of you clowns that a couple of years ago Honolulu became the first major city to ban text messaging while walking across a road. Now New York City is proposing to do the same. Other cities will follow like sheep.”

“For heaven’s sake, easily distracted people like you are now are going to revert to reading newspapers or books while crossing the road, or ogling an attractive stranger. How is that going to help Facebook’s profits?”

“Now, wait a minute,” says an ageing bloke of baby-boomer vintage. “Who are you to criticise us when it is your Facebook that has done more to distract the entire world than anyone else.”

“Fair cop,” chipped in a pert millennial. “If Facebook really cared about us it would have built an app that forced buses and cars to brake hard when a pedestrian was jaywalking.”

“Well, that might be going too far,” quibbled a querulous Gen X woman. “You might not own a car, but the rest of us do not want Facebook to control it at will. Facebook or Google should have developed an app to hoot at pedestrians when it detects traffic on a collision course. Do they care about keeping us addicts alive or not?”

“Of course, we care about keeping heavy users of Facebook alive,” says the first speaker. So does Google. “Before long, computers will be controlling all buses and cars and Facebook and Google will be controlling the computers. Then it is only jaywalkers not using Facebook and Google products at the time who will need to watch out.”

“Hands up all of you who would have been happy with that? Thank you, enough said.”

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