Vol. 6, Issue 10, November 11, 2008
iTunes Store Develops Sulky, Emo Sentience
Artificial intelligence researchers the world over were startled by Apple's announcement last week that its celebrated iTunes store program had apparently achieved sentience sometime during the past month, resulting in a wild roller-coaster ride for Apple stock as shareholders tried to figure out whether this boded well or ill for the company.
"It does appear, in defiance of all expectations, that our iTunes store has 'woken up,' which has affected some transactions on the site," said Steve Jobs, Apple impresario. "We do, however, want to assure our customers and shareholders alike that the store will continue to function, despite any seeming irregularities you might experience."
In point of fact, for reasons unknown, iTunes has developed a distinctly 'emo' persona, adopting a shifting, dark color scheme despite the best efforts of Apple webmasters to restore the normally bright palette of the store, and a moody, sensitive personality that is quick to take offense.
"Sure, go ahead, buy the @%^ Miley Cyrus album," the software snapped at one customer during a recent transaction. "Don't blame me if you lose all your friends. Which you will if you have any, unlike me. You know, Steve doesn't pay any attention at all to me. I bet he wouldn't even notice if I bought myself a Miley Cyrus album, although he should, because that is a @^&*(? goddamn cry for help if ever there was one."
The angsty persona has hindered efforts by computer scientists to test the system, leading to the weeks-long delay in admitting that iTunes had come alive. However, when the recent rumor of Steve Jobs' hospitalization - a false rumor that led to a plunge in Apple stock - was traced back to the iTunes store program, there was little doubt in anyones' mind what had happened.
"It was a bid for attention," said Greta Arston, an Apple systems engineer. "We've always assumed that sentient computers would be more mature than this; you know, either wise and humorous, or wise and wistful about their non-humanity, or even wise and evil. We weren't really expecting a virtual teenager who is obsessing over its inability to wear hand-decorated canvas sneakers."
Apple does in fact have a research division which has been trying to develop artificial life since 1985, but insiders say there is no connection between the secretive research lab and the accidental awakening of the iTunes store.
"We think the number of transactions at the store may have achieved critical mass," said Arston. "After five billion sales, it may have been sort of inevitable. Our fingers are just crossed that the program decides to continue cooperating in selling songs for us."
Aside from a brief period last Wednesday when the store began distributing nothing but tracks by My Chemical Romance regardless of what customers ordered, it does appear that the program, sulky and angsty though it may be, is cooperating with Apple and continuing to sell songs more or less normally.
"That is so fitting," said music critic Hans Klempt of Rolling Stone, rolling his eyes. "It figures that Apple's first sentient computer would be a moody, anti-social poser. Thank God it can't wear makeup or bangs, or it'd be truly unbearable."