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Machines with a mind of their own

Why my cellphone keeps calling people on its own and my microwave oven is in revolt.

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So there I am, sitting with my wife in a lawyer's office, when the hush of justice is interrupted by the music of – could it be? yes it is – the Dixie Chicks.

Now, normally only the ka-ching of billing hours is heard in these plush surroundings. But this really is one of my favorite songs bouncing off the mahogany walls.

"Nice music. But where are the speakers?" I ask, looking around the room.

My wife points to my pocket. "I believe," she says quietly, "the music is coming from you."

Sighing, I reach in and take out my iPhone and reluctantly turn off the Dixie Chicks. The highest of high-tech apparatus has gone off by itself. Without even asking, it has yet again decided to entertain itself.

This is not an uncommon occurrence. The iPhone seems to believe it is entitled to a life of its own. At various times during our four-month relationship, it has made phone calls to people I haven't spoken to in years. Gone online to bring me weather reports from Cupertino, Calif. Replied to e-mails I didn't know I had. And, most often, broken into song at inappropriate times.

Despite all this, like millions of Apple addicts, I love my iPhone. My devotion to it is like a parent's affection for a not-always-perfect child. You forgive them the occasional annoying behavior because they can be so entertaining. "Oh, that iPhone," you think, and occasionally say out loud, "What a scamp."

What concerns me, though, is that the iPhone's need to rebel may just be the tip of the chip when it comes to high-tech devices. If my iPhone is starting to reject me as its in loco parentis, when will other technically advanced "children" try to leave the nest?

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