SO there we were in some cramped nook trying to understand how this PCOS machine works. I could not concentrate.
I was looking at the sample ballot, a card roughly longer than your legal-sized bond paper. Anyone who had taken a licensure exam would fall into a déjà vu. It looked like the answer sheet that compressed your entire college life in exchange for a small ID from PRC. But it was not what diverted my imagination. It was something else.
Looking at the machine, I imagined the 1986 Goldblum movie “The Fly.” In case Dolphy had bungled your memory lately, the plot had a scientist experimenting on a machine capable of what he called “teleportation.” It was supposed to transport a person electronically from point A to B. No sweat.
Just as my imagination was going through “The Fly’s” plot, the Smartmatic rep explained that the machine is so programmed to err on the side of safety. It was taught taste, meaning it knows fine dining it won’t overeat when the voter over-votes. It spits out your ballot if you treat it like a coloring book. You only fill a hole for each position, and the intensity of fill has a certain threshold for the machine to count it.
Does the machine have a USB port or something, I’d have wanted to ask. The machine will use the three major mobile networks to transmit results and I thought that if they’ll do that, it might need those USB dongles like how you use your Globe Tattoo or Smart Bro. If it’s built-in, you’d have a modem that transmits to three network options? I simply missed that part about transmission.
If the machine has any portal at all, will it be possible anyone can feed a virus or a program to rig the results? I understand “encryptions,” but I also know how feeble they can be in the face of a clever virus. I remember Onel de Guzman, the diminutive college boy who fed a network worm that ate up about $5.5B in damages in major countries in 2000.
My mind flew again to “The Fly”: The scientist Brundle tells the journalist before he fed himself into the pod, “Don’t be afraid.” But something goes wrong with the experiment. A fly finds its way into the portal and is sucked into the circuits along with the human. A mutation takes place, although it is to be felt gradually later by Brundle. He notices changes and keeps himself in isolation. He develops fly-like traits, throwing up digestive enzymes into his food and leaps around and clings to walls and ceilings. Finally, the pregnant wife dreams she bore a maggot.
The thought of a maggot brought me back to the Smartmatic rep who at that point already sounded too certain about the machine and some parts of the room too sold out with the idea.
I thought that if the machine is spic-and-span a work of art, then there’s nothing to worry about. The training part for teachers may not even take an entire day; teaching a bunch of eggheads a lesson in math is definitely more complicated than learning to operate the PCOS machine. I can now hear the Smartmatic guy telling this bunch of journalists, “Don’t be afraid.”
What I am afraid, however, is when the president we have chosen mutates into a maggot with a severe propensity for flightiness.
A candidate shows just such trait, and it’s scary. When you spend billions of pesos to campaign, it’s like the fly spewing digestive enzymes to dissolve his food. In the movie “The Fly,” after the scientist makes the assurance that things will be okay, the journalist replies, “No. Be afraid. Be very afraid.”