Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bottom-up loss of autonomy

I used to think that electric toothbrushes were just another sign of laziness; after all, how much energy is it to move the brush yourself ? However, after Christina convinced me to get over my initial bias and try using a Sonicare, I became a convert. Intuitively, it does seem like having something whirring around in your mouth at semi-relativistic speeds will probably get your teeth cleaner than a purely manual process. In addition, Sonicare toothbrushes, quite apart from sparing you the muscular exertion of having to actually move your hand, also shoulder the burden of telling you when to switch mouth quadrants and when to stop brushing, by dint of beeping at the appropriate recommended-by-9-out-of-10-dentists times.

Sometimes, though, all this automation can backfire. While brushing my teeth this weekend, I caught myself thinking "Hmm, it sure seems like I've been brushing for a long time, how come it's still going ?" ... and then realized that I was using a good ol' non-electric toothbrush and, oh horror of horrors, was entirely on my own when it came to deciding when to stop brushing -- no benign machine overlord was going to guide my actions. [I'm happy to report that after only a few moments of confusion at the immense responsibility thus bestowed upon me, I was actually able to stop brushing.]

Maybe this is how the rise of the machines begins -- not with Skynet, but with a humble toothbrush and a loss of our ability to do the simplest things.

[Aside: as further proof that, no matter how ridiculous an idea is, somebody will have done it: I thought to myself "I wonder whether you can overclock your toothbrush ?", consulted the oracle and, lo and behold, here is an instructional video on exactly that.]


Blogger Lawrence David said...

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12:18 AM  
Blogger Lawrence David said...

i was given one of those for christmas; it creeps me out how after a mere week of sonicating, i too have turned into an oral hygiene zombie who responds only to little dings.

12:24 AM  
Anonymous Bill Tozier said...

In the future, your toothbrush will be your dentist.

And it will order more milk from the grocery store for you, too.

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Keith said...

This post is hilarious. The wife bought a matching set of Sonicares just before the holidays and now we loathe the thought of returning to the burdensome manual toothbrush. Someone should by some stock quick.

12:12 AM  

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