At dusk on Tuesday, as I waited to use the ATM, the lamppost above me turned on for a second, then off. I looked up. So did the person using the ATM.
Actually, it was less than that. It was even less than a second. Just a flicker of life.
As I waited, I remembered the first time I saw lampposts switch themselves on. I was twenty. I had seen lampposts before of course, in both their states. But never in between, never in motion.
I was standing on the street where my then-boyfriend lived, waiting for the bus to work. It was dusk then too, I suppose. Though perhaps not a Tuesday. The pavement had recently been resurfaced and saplings planted at intervals. I don’t remember what we’d done that day but I remember feeling happy and calm; and just then, the lampposts blinked awake. And because I was twenty and felt happy and calm, it wasn’t just a light sensor, it was magic.
So at dusk on Tuesday, as I waited, I thought for a while about lampposts and dusk and magic and light sensors and automated tellers and artificial intelligence and sentience and the singularity and the future. And I thought maybe I’ve been reading too much about AI recently. But then I thought about the flicker of a light in the dark, the flicker of something like life.
And I looked up at the lamppost. And I wondered.
A version of this post was sent by email on the 24th September 2017 as part of Internet Care Package.
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