A walk down the memory lane – From hand written letters to artificial intelligence

Alexa, what’s my schedule today? I screamed. As she began to list my classes one after the other, my mind flew back to my school days where I would recall every day’s timetable without even looking at my school calendar. I had a razor-sharp memory of bringing hundreds of phone numbers to the tip of my tongue, straight from my head but now I blame my poor memory on ageing, as convinced by neuroimaging and molecular psychiatry, though my repressed mind failed to synchronise with my reasoning. 

As a young learner, I was always proud of upgrading my skills – may it be learning the latest languages like COBOL, SQL or understanding how Oracle and SAP worked, as I transitioned smoothly to Apple iOS and Android apps. I gradually progressed from PCs to PDAs to Smart devices. 

 My mind took an unassumed random jump from time immemorial, where the postal service was the only means of effective communication between me and my friends. During the school holidays we waited for the snail mail replies for weeks together,  and sometimes it even took more than a month to receive a message that can be exchanged in a moment now, thanks to emojis, voice messages and GIFs, that can convey both the messages and the emotions simultaneously. Subsequently, an angel from far west sent us a dial-up telephone that had to be pulse dialled and we were thrilled and eagerly waited to hear the ring from the other side, while now I put my handphone in silence most of the time. Those rotary dial phones are not only used by the family that owned it but also shared by the entire community across the streets. Yeah…. you heard it right! 

Then came to the teenagers’ rescue, as I pulled a leaf out of my memory lane, a device called Pager from Motorola, which is a hand-held beeper that receives and displays alpha-numerals with which we merrily sent ‘Happy Birthday’ messages. Not much later, the telecom industry took a quantum leap and finally launched its latest Nokia Monochrome GSM with which we could both text and call, and the term ‘mobile’ originated in our lives, to become inseparable now. Nokia 3310 became our new hero!

Looking back today, I’m overwhelmed with deep gratitude for the devices that connected the near and dear ones and how it used to serve as a tool to strengthen our bonds. The Mobile Revolution began. 

Currently, with the innumerable gadgets right from Amazon kindle, Echo, Apple TV,  Fitbit,  SmartThings and Sonos invariably proved that the human brain need not be wasted in vain to hold mundane data. I upgraded smoothly,  without any regrets from PCs to Ultrabooks, and from headphones to Earbuds. 

Sister Corona (virus) held me high to hangout with Google meet, GoTo Meeting, Blue Jeans, Zoom and Cisco jabbed and I was gleefully flapping my wings, flying as busy as a bee, only without knowing that I had my independent wings.

My pride didn’t last long when my Dad inquired for my son’s handphone number, while I was bragging about my Siri’s efficiency and my mind went blank at his question. I tried to recall his number as in the good old days where I had almost hundreds of my friends’ landline numbers on deck. To my ravage of self-worth, not just my son’s number, but I was unable to recall a single number from my memory because my inbred skills had been taken over by my smartphone and I was dazed if ageing is still the reason for the loss of memory? 

Devastated, for the first time in my life, I shut off every gadget on my table and went straight to my son to test his level of memory and asked for his phone number to which he promptly replied that he had forwarded to my WhatsApp, adding that he never stored any numbers in mind, not realizing there might be a need to remember emergency numbers at the time of crises, nor me, so I realized. 

“Okay”, I said to him, convinced and I went to the terrace with empty hands, with no smartphone for the first time in decades, only to be welcomed by the dark, cloudy, starless sky and it looked as gloomy as my state of mind. All I could see or imagine was the Grim Reaper with his scythe on the dark, moonless sky. Instead of asking me “Are you ready to go?” all I could hear was “Are you ready to go back?” to which I readily answered, “I am a good woman, do I need to go back”?

 I gazed at the sky for more than an hour for the moon to show up, being bombarded between confused and blank thoughts that were as clouded as the sky. Coming back to my senses, not knowing what to do with my empty hands and upheld head, I took the stairs back to my floor. The moon never showed up!

As I entered my apartment, the sensor LED lights and the roaring music from Spotify instantly uplifted my mood. I gleamed and shook my hips to the beats and looked eagerly at my amazing gadgets, starting to switch them on one by one, while Alexa played my favourite playlist on my first command. 

 Would I ever realise that I had already lost myself from the digital era to Artificial intelligence? 

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below and if you resonate with my thoughts, do share it with your loved ones.                                      

Until next time, stay happy and stay calm.