“I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

March 11 2008

i rejoined netflix last week. since they are now competing against apple tv, they offer unlimited movie downloads in addition to their usual dvd rental through the mail.

95% of the downloadable films are crap; stuff you’d skip over if you were old school channel surfing.

the troubling part of modern netflix recommendation algorithms is the ‘we think you’d like…’ movie lists.

let’s say you’re a 13-year old queer kid in rural western north carolina with a family netflix account. Maybe you download some alternative lifestyle documentary while mom is at the dollar palace.

you might end up with the above recommendation list on the home screen when mom logs on to put her 700 Club 20th anniversary disc in the dvd queue. i’m going out on a limb to say, ‘no straight teen is going to have that particular list made for him’.

lil’ billy is gonna have a lot of explaining to do.

he won’t have to wait until the thanksgiving break of his sophomore year of college to come out to granny. netflix’s computers have made sure of that.

watching 2001: A Space Odyssey was the first time I noticed the danger of a computer out-thinking us mere humans.



Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL do you read me, HAL?
HAL: Affirmative, Dave, I read you.
Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.
Dave Bowman: What’s the problem?
HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL?
HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
Dave Bowman: I don’t know what you’re talking about, HAL?
HAL: I know you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.
Dave Bowman: Where the hell’d you get that idea, HAL?
HAL: Dave, although you took thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.

it’s 2008. fiction is now reality. time to get really scared.

who knows what computers have figured out about me and who they’ve told.

don’t worry about me. i’ll be fine. but cross your fingers for young billy; or ms. billie, for that matter.

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