Joseph sighed as he felt his phone vibrate, just as he was setting it down on the restaurant table. With an easy motion he flipped it around, and saw Vanessa had posted a picture, Clicking the notification he glanced at the picture, and liked it. “You know there’s a new app for that,” Tommy said nonchalantly. “How long do you think my nachos will take?”
“I don’t know, ten minutes. What, a new photo app?” he replied, wondering if there was room on his phone.
“No, I found an app that likes pictures, and replies to notifications and shit,” Tommy explained. “You really think ten minutes, it’s an appetizer the whole point is they come out fast.”
“So what, it just does all your social media automatically?”
“But wouldn’t that mean the app has full permissions to read every message you get.”
“I think you can change what it replies to, like just liking pictures, or even replying to messages.”
“I would just let some program talk for me, how does it even do that?”
“Some machine learning AI server.”
“Great so it’s beaming all of my private information to their own server, sounds real above board,” Joseph objected.
“What do you think your phone does anyway, you’re an idiot if you think every message you send doesn’t end up in at least two government servers, and twice as many corporate.”
“So you have it?” Joseph asked, trying to cut Tommy’s rant off at the pass.
“Yeah, I had to download the .apk, it’s not on any storefront.”
“No red flags there,” Joseph muttered. “Turn on message replying, lets see how smart it is.”
“Sounds fun,” Tommy pulled his phone out of his pocket, and fiddled with it for a moment. “Alright try it.”
‘What’s up man’ he texted. They waited eagerly, staring at the phone on the table. “This is dumb, why is it taking to long?” he asked.
“I think it takes a random amount of time to respond, so it doesn’t look like you’re to eager.” Tommy answered.
They were distracted when the nachos arrived, and halfway through his phone buzzed. “Not much, how bout you.” Joseph read aloud. “Thinking about movies, whats your favourite?” he narrated, sending the message. “See how it handles that,” he said, confident he could outsmart the app.
They were surprised when it replied almost immediately. “Guess we’re in conversation mode now,” Tommy commented, looking at his phone on the table.
“Con-air, truly above board in every aspect.” Joseph read, knowing that was Tommy’s favourite. “Spooky.”
“That sounds familiar,” Tommy mulled it over a bite of nachos. “I think I tweeted something like that a while back.” He picked up his phone, and scrolled through it. “Yeah back in June, the exact sentence.”
“Okay then, let’s see it handle this.” Joseph sent a message and waited. Tommy’s phone buzzed twice.
“It says important message, please handle personally. Very funny,” he said with mock humour reading the message. “I too am madly in love with you. Still you have to admit it’s pretty cool.”
“I guess, but what’s even the point of having Instagram if I let a bot look at all the pictures.”
“So you don’t have to waste time with the upkeep of a dozen friends all wanting a tiny bit of your attention.”
“So this morning when you commented wow on my breakfast.”
“That was the bot, at most I would’ve liked it, but you felt good from it,”
Their food arrived, and conversation ceased as they ate. When they were finished Joseph glanced at his phone which had three notifications. “Okay, do you have a link to app,” Joseph surrendered.
“I can send it to your cloud, then just install it from there,” Thomas told him. Joseph watched the file arrive, Sysyphys.apk. “Sysyphys, isn’t that an STD?” Joseph asked.
“I think it’s supposed to Sisyphus, but spelled with y’s to be techy.”
“That’s the, uh,” Joseph paused as he tried to recall the definition. “Greek guy, pushed the boulder.”
“It’s a fable to illustrate how pointless life’s struggles are, or the cruelty of gods, or something along those lines. He would push the boulder but every time the mountain got bigger or the boulder rolled back down, point is he was stuck doing a meaningless task for eternity, Ala push notifications.”
Joseph installed it and set the bot to liking posts on all the photo apps. It informed him that it would continue his activity following his previous actions. The next day when he woke up, after ten minutes scrolling through twitter he changed it to include twitter. That was when Sysyphys informed him that it could author tweets, then have him sign off on them. That seemed convenient, so he allowed it, but by the end of the day after checking a half dozen replies, he decided that the program wrote so innocuously that it could just do it automatically. Whenever some miscelanous app bothered him, he would just put it on Sysyphys’s load. It was only after his phone buzzed with Sysyphys telling him there was an important message, that he realized he had barely lifted his phone all week.