Last night I came across a Lime e-bike, dead on its side in a disabled car-parking space. I set about rescuing it, thinking that its conventional home, annoyingly littering the pavement, would be less bad.
As soon as I picked it up it started beeping, loudly. Then a computery woman’s voice began saying, “Please unlock me to ride me or I’ll call the police!”
I set the bike upright on its stand but the beeping and the verbal warning repeatedly alternated. I continued walking home, quickly, while the once quiet street was filled with the alarming noise, which slowly faded as I turned a corner. Maybe it’s still going.
First Person Things. Genuine People Personalities. The age of Surveillance Capitalism. The “Smart City”. Alexa-as-cop. Join the dots, write your own blogpost.
Somewhere deep at the intersection of “everything is tech” (tech, the all-consuming industry, rather than technology), “everything is a service” (and thus somebody else’s property you pay to rent), and “everything is increasingly awful in order to service a minority” (in this case: the owners of the bike, frankly, who are interested in preserving their property whilst acquiring new customers).
We joked that the future was rubbish because we still don’t have a jetpack; it is, in fact, more rubbish (and made up of more rubbish) than we perhaps could have imagined. We are all Joe Chip.