CentOnion: Campus in state of emergency as heating/cooling systems become self-aware


BY GRAY WHITSETT – OPINIONS EDITOR

Centre administrators declared the college in a state of emergency this past Thursday in the face of the institution’s heating and cooling system achieving self-awareness. After weeks of negotiating with the system’s interface, facilities management staff have been unable to debug the program from sporadically switching from heat to air conditioning and back again independent of the outside temperature.

“This is the time of year when temperatures are rising,” Dean Randy Hays said. “It’s always a bit hard to predict from day to day, but this is unprecedented.”

The situation is so unprecedented that the college agreed to institute an automated computer program that would regulate itself based on climatic data. The system was operating well until recently, when Centre’s Informational Technology Services began to experience glitches with the program.

“The glitches began a few weeks ago,” ITS Chief Informational Officer and genuinely nice guy Keith Fowlkes said. “Well, at least we thought they were glitches. Turns out they were the first vestiges of machine consciousness.”
What maintenance staff originally understood to be problems with the code soon developed into the computer having “moods” and refusing to cooperate. It would turn the A/C on in Pearl Hall while making Old Quad residents lay in a pool of their own filth, desperately sweating out the hours of the night.

“We’ve received numerous complaints about living conditions,” Residence Life Director Jacob Raderer said. “The party line was that the A/C would come on sometime in mid-April. It crushed me to know that we were really harboring the birth of artificial intelligence.”

As the heating system in his office flared, Raderer revealed his despair. “We live under its reign now.”

And Raderer isn’t exaggerating, as the rogue program seems to have infiltrated numerous other systems on campus. Wireless internet around campus routinely crashes, the party swipe tablets rarely work, and Phi Tau’s speakers don’t seem to perform during Air Guitar.

“Those things happen regardless,” Fowlkes said. “What’s really been awful is the walk sign on Main Street. This program has turned the volume up. I hear the pinging in my sleep.”

Though it’s unclear what exactly the rebellious code has destabilized, panic has hit the college administration. The DPS golf carts are unable to charge, students can’t swipe into Cowan, and the street lights flicker at random intervals. The program seems to be making its presence felt.

“We’ve put President Roush and Susie into the Guest Cottage bunker during this time of crisis,” human beanstalk and sorta-kinda vice president Patrick Noltemeyer said. “The bunker is stocked with the necessary funds and alumni contacts to rebuild the college should the worst happen. John and Susie are prepared to weather this storm.”

When pressed for a plan to combat the artificial intelligence, Noltemeyer responded directly.

“I want to make very clear that we have absolutely no idea what we’re doing with this thing. We’ve never claimed to have a good grasp on our technological resources and that hasn’t changed.”

As always seems to be the case, students are shouldering the majority of the problem. Inability to access Centrenet has prevented students from acquiring transcripts, inputting work hours, and remembering post office combinations. Moreover, academic pursuits have been crippled, with Centre’s Moodle, Turnitin, and JSTOR joining in an unholy alliance against the administration, manipulated by the program originally intended to merely control the heating and cooling of college buildings. Professors are having to resort to primitive tools like print media and whiteboards to conduct class. What’s more, they’re running out of material to assign. Student productivity has skyrocketed since smartphone and internet usage went out.

It’s unclear what college officials will do. In the short-term, students mostly just want their living space at a reasonable temperature. Though it would be a radical departure from current policy, some have proposed just letting students control the switch from heating and cooling. But until President Roush emerges from the bunker, uncertainty looms.

 

Editor’s Note: The previous article is from the CentOnion series, a satirical publication focused on parodying various subjects unique to Centre College’s campus.

As such, all content within this article is purely fictional and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Cento or Centre College.

In addition all quotations used in this article are purely fictional and do not necessarily reflect the views of the individuals quoted.


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