Several months ago, while I was typing a few e-mails at my dining room table, my laptop spoke to me.
“You…look…bored,” it said in a robotic monotone, out of nowhere.
Startled, I checked my browser tabs and my list of open applications to see if anything had been making noise. Nothing had. I hadn’t been watching any YouTube videos, browsing any pages with autoplay ads, or listening to any podcasts when the voice appeared.
Then I realized: this was the hacker. The same hacker who, for the prior two weeks, had been making my life a nightmare hellscape — breaking into my email accounts, stealing my bank and credit card information, gaining access to my home security camera, spying on my Slack chats with co-workers, and—the coup de grâce—installing a piece of malware on my laptop that hijacked my webcam and used it to take photos of me every two minutes, then uploaded those photos to a server owned by the hacker.
Hence the robot voice. From his computer on the other side of the country, the hacker spied on me through my webcam, saw that I was unenthused, and used my laptop’s text-to-speech function to tell me “you look bored.”
I had to admit, it was a pretty good troll.