Does something like a TV remote fall into the “simple” category—or is it merely yet another instance of massive complexity miniaturized? More like the latter. Ours has to talk to our AT&T cable box yet in such a way that it also talks to our Sony TV. Three remotes live in reasonable harmony together in our living room. The Sony’s own, used sometimes to switch between Cable and DVD, AT&T’s to open up our Eye-on-the-World, and one for our Blu-Ray DVD which also doubles as a channel so that we can watch streamed movies. Sometimes, however, confusions arise. When that happens late at night, help must come from yet another look-alike, our Uniden telephone. It looks like a remote but uses AT&T’s telephone line to connect me with Tech Support in some such place as Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, where I can discover why it is that my AT&T-remote no longer works. Now the time-difference between here and Mumbai is such that at 1 am it is 11:30 am there. The distance is some 7,920 miles. Yet I have to cross that distance “virtually” to learn that to restore my baffled sanity, I need to press the ATT button on my remote (like two inches away) so that I can restore that remote’s functionality again. That simple? That simple. Suddenly everything is Okay again.
I hope I never become a nonagenarian. Then I might have problems with my live-in robotic surgeon the size of a small vacuum cleaner but with multiple extensible thin arms. The call to Mumbai ensues. “I have a terrible pain in my side, down toward the groin. I fired up the Robo-Doc and he wants me to pick from a menu. So far so good. But now that he’s diagnosed appendicitis, he insists that I press Ctrl-Alt-F9 on his keyboard to give him the Okay to operate. But when I do that, Robo-Doc says: ‘Lobotomy procedure authorized. Please lie down on the couch.’ I’m calling you from the closet. Robo-Doc is waiting out there. What’s wrong? Didn’t the F9 work? And how do I abort the whole thing?”