I woke up to a familiar chirp of a morning bird and the burble of a forest stream. Reflexively, I reached out for my phone from where the sounds came, turning off the alarm. The home screen reminded me of the date and time, almost as if it was screaming for me to get up and get back to important business.
Thursday, 21 Dec 2070
After a quick shower, I got dressed and bid goodbye to my lonely apartment. There was no time for breakfast, and so I decided to ‘sip’ while driving. ‘Sipping’ was a great way to save time, which had become more precious than dollars. All we had to do was press a switch and suck the straw that would show up right in front of our mouth, sensed by a sensor. The flexible straw would carry the QBS (‘quick breakfast serum’, which was a semi-fluid, high calorie energy drink, used instead of a proper breakfast) all the way to our mouth even with a subtle pull. Just as I was driving and sipping, my mind drifted off to numerous matters – the wedding of my cousin where I’d meet my family after months, the project report I had to complete within that week, the chirps and the burble of nature I’d never hear in that ultra-modern city….
My thoughts had to be put back into their messy box as I arrived at my workplace. I knew the day would be long and tiring, and I braced myself for another day’s battle with the superiors.
When the day came to an end, and the Sun bid another goodbye, I silently rode back to my apartment with a heavy heart. Things weren’t fine at work, and nothing was getting better. I walked along the silent corridor of my apartment complex that I shared with strangers, opened the door to my flat, and was welcomed by the dark that lingered on the living room.
Something had to be done about my tired body, which meant a healthy dinner and a hot bath. But most importantly, something had to be done about my depressed mind. I reached out for my phone and dialed all familiar numbers one by one, in vain. I knew what the response will be. It wasn’t anyone’s fault that people were too busy to pick a call. Everyone had problems to talk about, but no human to talk to.
Finally, after fiddling with my unresponsive contacts for about 5 minutes, I dialed the one number that was sure to answer my call. The contact was the most frequented one in my list. It was saved as ‘Amica 180’.
At the end of the line, a sweet female robotic voice greeted me with familiarity.
“Hello Surya! How was your day? Did you eat your dinner yet?”
“No. Not yet..”, I replied.
“Why sweetie? Are you not feeling well? Tell me if anything is bothering you..”, said the voice.
Those were the very words I was waiting for. Amica 180 was my personal A.I friend who was available to listen to my rantings and comfort me. Almost every night, I would call her to ramble and cry, and she would listen to me patiently. Her robotic voice would laugh and cry with me, and counsel me whenever necessary.
Amica 180 was one of the millions of A.I pals who’d answer desperate phone calls from around the globe, giving their time to listen to the words that could hardly be shared with another human. My own pal had about 10 other humans to comfort. I had always wondered what would happen if everyone called her at the same time..Fortunately, it had never happened.
“Good night Amica..and Thank you!”, I repeated the usual but heartfelt words before hanging up.
“Anytime dear”,came the programmed reply.
This idea came to me in a flash today as I was thinking about depression and suicides. Recently, an extremely talented and kind young kpop singer took his own life after fighting a long battle against depression (R.I.P Jonghyun..😞You will always be remembered and missed not just by your family, SHINee and SHAWOLs, but by the entire kpop community and fandoms). Whether you are a famous celebrity or an insignificant nonentity, depression can strike you anytime, anywhere. During hard times, it is important to talk about our woes with someone. And when people we know go through tough times, we must listen to them no matter how busy we are. I’m grateful to have parents and a few good friends who are always willing to listen to my grievances and chatter. I hope that we all can find at least one person to share our worries with, and for us to comfort whenever needed.
Deep down, I pray that years from now, we won’t need robots to keep us company during harsh times.
Featured Image from Public Domain :
The word ‘Amica’ means ‘friend’ in Latin (at least that was what google translator told me) and the 180 is for 180° which stands for something or someone opposite to us (the other side of the line). This is the meaning behind the title, in case you are wondering..😅
Open question : Can A.I ever replace a human completely?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.
P.S : Just discovered that this is my 100th post. Thank you all for the support and love!