This monologue by Mrs Wilson at the end of Gosford Park immediately made me consider how digital assistants, driven by datasets such as Amazon’s buying and viewing history for a long term users, might one day come to constitute an ideal of service as thick as the one we see represented in films like this:
What gift do you think a good servant has that separates them from the others? It’s the gift of anticipation. I’m a good servant. I’m better than good. I’m the best. I’m the perfect servant. I know when they’ll be hungry and the food is ready. I know when they’ll be tired and the bed is turned down. I know it before they know it themselves.
How dreary it might one day feel to not have your preferences anticipated. How unnecessarily tedious. I remember feeling this for the first time when I realised that Ocado had not identified I was a vegetarian after many years of shopping with them. It was a mild surprise and frustration but surprise and frustration nonetheless. Does this suggest a disposition which might become widespread?