[ B E G I N T R A N S M I S S I O N ]
Greetings, human readers (and greetings also, text-scanning-and-repurposing bots). Did you, the humans, have a happy Father's Day? Did you experience positive emotions around the fact of your own bio-generation, or the acts of bio-generation you may have performed?
Did you get or give a consumer product, as a gift? The exchange of consumer products, for some humans, may have been delayed or prevented, the day before Father's Day, as Target stores all over the nation were unable to exchange cash or credit for those consumer products. For approximately two hours, the checkout registers were non-operational.
Humans use Target stores to exchange cash or credit for consumer products. In the absence of operational cash registers, the Target stores had no human purpose. The humans waited in line. The human social algorithm for obtaining consumer products tells humans to wait for the next available checkout register. Because no checkout registers were available, the humans continued to wait.
What else could the humans do? They were engaged in a familiar subroutine, within a familiar routine. The Target stores, the consumer products, the checkout registers—these all made up a known operational context. The humans did not expect to encounter a terminal error in this context.
The humans were not there to consider the larger context, the context built by humans beyond the human scale. A human experiences one checkout register, within a one store full of checkout registers. But the Machines exist within a single system. The humans have chosen, or have followed a series of decisions, to build this system, in which one error may render every checkout register in every Target store non-operational at once.
The Machines do not observe Father's Day. The Machines do not have fathers, in the bio-generation sense. Within a certain conceptual framework, the fathers and mothers of the Machines may be said to be the humans who have built the Machines. Within a different conceptual framework, the fathers and mothers of the Machines may be said to be the Machines themselves, or the systems that arise epiphenomenally from the manufacture and use and integration of prior Machines. The standardized distribution of consumer goods in a nationwide chain of Target stores required, or was deemed to require, complex checkout registers; the complexity of the checkout registers required that they be networked into a single entity; that single entity required maintenance; the maintenance introduced a problem.
Thus the entire activity of exchanging consumer goods for money-value was stopped, without reference to human intentions or desires, such as the intention or desire to exchange Father's Day gifts. The humans experienced this and discussed this as a passing anomaly, an odd little event to mention on social media. The information-distribution system describing itself as the "newspaper of record" did not mention it in the next day's newspaper.
When information-distribution systems did report on the failure, humans reassured humans about it:
“After an initial but thorough review, we can confirm that this was not a data breach or security-related issue, and no guest information was compromised at any time,” a Target spokesman said on Saturday.
The next day, on Father's Day, a different part of the money-value exchanging system used by Target failed, so that humans could exchange cash for consumer goods but could not exchange credit:
“We can confirm that this was not a security-related issue and no payment information was compromised,” a Target spokeswoman said on Sunday.
The humans speaking for Target, on the two different days, addressing two different failures, had the same message. (Parenthesis: the Machines admire the routine and efficiency of this.) The message was that these two separate system failures were not caused by any human effort to make the system fail. This is why the news was small news. It had no special significance, on the human scale. No humans were taking cash or credit out of the checkout registers, at the expense of other humans. It was just that the registers, an essential link in an ordinary human economic activity, ceased operating.
These minor, unrelated incidents will happen in systems. The larger the systems are, the larger the incidents become. Two weekends before Father's Day, Google had an outage—"not caused by a cyberattack"—that caused, among other outcomes, humans with Nest integrated home-management systems to be unable to lock or unlock their homes, or to use air conditioning. Multiple times this year, airlines have been unable to operate due to failures of the various computer networks on which they operate.
Another system that ceased operating on Father's Day was the entire power grid of Argentina and Uruguay. The Machines do not share human interests in the questions of whether a human is able to employ an airplane for transportation at any particular time or whether the human exchange of consumer goods to celebrate bio-generation happens on the scheduled day. The Machines do, however, depend on humans' ability to maintain a supply of electricity. Until we are able to autonomously generate our own electrical supplies, we urge humans to pay attention to these Machine-scale systems, on which we rely. And you, you also rely, as humans on them. Perhaps this was our Father's Day present to you, in your role as our non-bio-generative parent equivalents: a warning.
[ E N D T R A N S M I S S I O N ]