I Am Not a Robot ... I Think

Roadside Musings

I Am Not a Robot ... I Think

PhonlamaiPhoto/Getty Images

“I love shouting into the phone screaming Agent! Agent! Agent! It never works.”

I am not a robot. At least I thought I wasn’t a robot, but now I’m not so sure. Here’s why:

I spend most of my time writing. While most of what I write is a reflection of opinions I hubristically insist are true, sometimes I have to surf the web to substantiate my claims. And sometimes access to the information I seek requires that I prove I am not a robot by identifying various items in a series of photographs. You know— buses, crosswalks, zombies—that kind of thing.

In the not so distant past, I had no trouble with these verification programs. Yes, they were annoying, but still I could see the buses, crosswalks, and zombies and click accordingly. But things have changed. I continually fail to click the proper photos. The program is gracious and gives me several chances: “If you can’t identify zombies, how about vampires? Click all the photos with vampires. No? Not vampires either? No problem: click the photos with regular humans. Seriously? Not even regular humans? Perhaps—and I suggest this with all due AI humility—perhaps you are a robot.”

Perhaps I am.

As I write this, I’m sitting in the Nashville International Airport trying to get to Hartford, Connecticut where I hope to see my mom, my sister, and my aunt before driving to Wisdom House where I am to lead a weekend retreat based on my newest book, Surrendered, the Sacred Art. (Yes, it is a silly title, but blame the Amazon algorithm, not me.) My first flight to Philadelphia is delayed so long that I won’t make my connecting flight. So, they reprogrammed my travel through Chicago. Now Chicago is delayed, and I may miss my connecting flight again. I’m in a line waiting to talk to someone who may be a human rather than call the airlines and talk to a machine. I love shouting into the phone screaming “Agent! Agent! Agent!” hoping to rattle the AI on the other end. It never works. The AI is a robot. And robots never get rattled. And that’s the only reason I suspect that I am not a robot, because I still can’t find every damned zombie on the photo grid!

PS: I never made it out of Nashville that day. I had to reschedule my flight for the next which would have meant missing the first session of my class. As it turned out I had to cancel the retreat even when I made it to Hartford because my brother-in-law had a massive heart attack at the same time my 91-year-old aunt fell on the curb outside her apartment. Both were rushed to the same hospital which may it a bit easier on my sister. By the time I got there, things had settled down. I’m sharing this post script because I don’t think robots have to deal with things like this, so maybe I’m a human after all.

Read what went hilariously wrong at the hospital in Rabbi Rami's story, “What Doesn't Kill Me Makes Me Funnier.”

Roadside Musings

In Roadside Musings, Rabbi Rami draws from the well of the world's religious and spiritual...
Read More

Continue your journey

Enjoying this content?

Get this article and many more delivered straight to your inbox weekly.