The Ides of Watch

Julius Caesar should have known his time was about up, as a seer warned him, but he didn’t listen, and perhaps he didn’t rightfully care. Back in Caesar’s time, it was hard to tell time, and harder even to tell when it was time. Not heeding warnings, you could end up your day in the company of a bunch of back stabbers, literally. But that was the chance you had to take in a volatile and dangerous world.

Our world is a no less volatile and dangerous, and our seers, now given names like siri, are also becoming more and more adept at warning us when our time is up. And we won’t listen, not because we are ornery, deluded, or stupid, but because we are hopeful, and that is something the developers of our pocket computer prognosticators don’t seem to understand.

From fitness tracking to health tracking to health predictions, down to warning of when it’s not healthy to hang out with your best buds, our wearables are rapidly becoming unbearables. It seems great that the latest version of the i-watch or i whatever can monitor our pulse, our respiration, and many other bodily functions that it can upload to a web md, who will duly warn us when it is time to exercise, take our meds, or if not, when it is time to die. But all this predictability can be too precise, too reliable, and too scary. We want some uncertainty in our lives, so we can virtually trace the more fruitful branches of our possible futures. We don’t want AI to infallibly predict the winner of the big game, the end of our romantic date, and most certainly not the end of our days. So, we ignore them, turn them off or just plain don’t wear them, until our reckoning occurs, probably in the middle of March.

Computers are good for predicting things, when a tire is going flat, when your car payment is due, and how the weather will be tomorrow.  Fine indeed if they help us forestall our fears, but a tragedy if they foreclose on our hopes. So, when our i-watch gains the smarts to tell us who we should date, what we should eat, and when we should exercise, it is probably best to put them aside until the middle of the month, if we are still alive by then that is.