A couple of nights ago, Kat and I watched most of Toy Story 2 before going to bed. In subsequent nights, we watched the rest of the movie, and also the original Toy Story, but that’s not important right now. It was interesting to compare the technical differences between the two, from rendering to animation, but that’s also not important right now.
A few minutes before 5:00am on the morning after we’d watched most of TS2, we were awakened by a cry from Carolyn. She settled back down within a minute, and as we lay there dropping back off to sleep ourselves, we very clearly heard, coming from somewhere in the house, a quick series of three beeps.
My first thought was the carbon monoxide detector, but it wasn’t loud enough or the right tone pattern (the CO detector just wails in one long earsplitting tone). My second thought was a fire detector running low on batteries, but again, wrong tone pattern. The interval between these two thoughts was probably a couple of minutes, because it was very early in the morning and I was stumbling around the house trying to figure out what had produced the sound.
After a tour of the first floor and a quick peek into Carolyn’s room, I went back to bed. It took a while, since I’d shifted into sentry mode, but I eventually fell back asleep. We haven’t heard any mysterious beeps since then.
It’s hard to shake the suspicion that our electronic gadgets have started talking to each other at night. I’m not sure what they’d talk about; how much would a VCR really have to say to a cell phone? Maybe they discuss difficult philosophcal questions and further illuminate the nature of existence. Maybe our technosphere has gotten sophisticated enough that a collective awareness has emerged. If that’s true, then it’s little wonder we wouldn’t have heard about it. What interest would a global intelligence have in talking to any of us?
Then again, maybe a short-circuit or other unexpected condition triggered some beeps, and that was that.