Robot voice on TransLink buses falls into deep depression

Photo by Analyn Cuarto

Photo by Analyn Cuarto

Intelligent enough to feel sadness, not intelligent enough to ask for help

By Klara Woldenga, Humour Editor
According to sources, the female voice that is heard in every TransLink bus has hit a streak of deep depression. Over the past month, the transit voice program used to announce transit stops has been heard sighing deeply and forlornly. Locals commuters have also reported hearing the voice loudly asking, “What’s the point?” during the morning and evening rush-hour periods.

According to TransLink spokesperson, Janet Alden, this is the first time she has seen the voice program in this state for this long.

“We’re really growing concerned,” said Alden. “Sometimes she feels sad for a couple days, but this mood has lasted for over a month. It’s the longest period of depression we’ve seen since her creation back in 2008.”

Along with her deep sighing and loud existential questions, the TransLink robotic voice has stopped telling passengers to move to the back of the bus or even to take off their backpacks. She has also refused to remind passengers that they are entering a paid fare zone.

“I’m very frustrated,” TransLink bus driver, Ryan Hapner, told the Other Press. “I know no one listens to me when I get the voice to say, ‘Remove your backpack,’ but I like having the option to push the button and try, ya know?”

According to Alden, the TransLink staff have tried several different ways to relieve the TransLink robot voice of its depression: Rebooting it, implementing software updates, RoboChocolate™, long drives on the beach, and dressing up buses in funny hats. Unfortunately, nothing has worked.

“We’ve tried everything except asking it how it feels, or why it’s feeling the way it does,” said Alden. “But I’m not about to do that; robots are spooky and I’m not about to talk to it or listen to what it has to say.”

On top of trying to solve this issue, TransLink has been tasked with responding to the new flood of TransLink complaints about the issue, which have been sent by passengers through email, Twitter, and the new messaging system Brick-In-Window™.

“I can’t believe I have to hear another sigh on the bus along with suffering sudden stops and slightly touching the person beside me,” one anonymous comment said in a TransLink phone message. “Hearing another person’s sadness isn’t something I have time for.” Another message merely consisted of deep sobbing.

According to Alden, these messages have maxed out at over 400 per day. TransLink has suggested that this is due to the fact that most of those complaining live privileged lives and have nothing else to complain about.

“I’d like to say that I’m concerned, but I’m really not,” says local commuter (and complainer), Jackson Erik. “My commute to work is over an hour both ways; I don’t have the energy to worry about a depressed AI. We’re all depressed, sweetie. Your work is boring? No one’s listening to you? Welcome to planet Earth.”

“We just hope it pulls out of its depression soon,” said Alden. “…Without us actually listening to it or having to address its needs, I mean.”

The TransLink voice declined to be interviewed and has announced that it’s going to up its alcohol consumption, stop participating in social activities, and slowly give away its things.

The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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