Robots have proliferated on the promise of delivering us from the tediousness of our present so we can lead lives of contemplative pleasure. Ironically, the rise of bots has only added layers of complication and interruption, requiring a constant monitoring of our digital intermediaries for signs of life while trying to predict what opaque computer language will be necessary to get you to a live customer representative.

In the case of TicketMaster, bots only seem to perpetuate the worst parts of the old order, creating a virtual army of salary-less employees to stand on line to buy all the tickets to a show they know some moon-eyed 14-year-old will be willing to pay any price to see.

There is some poetic symmetry to this structure: In the moments when our need is most irrational and intense, someone will create a bot to address it. But in so doing, the absurdity of our wants becomes even more apparent through the accompanying haze of artificiality these bots bring with them, breaking TicketMaster's monopoly on Bieber tickets only to push fans into an even stranger and more expensive market of scalpers.

It becomes a kind of litmus test in a way. Do you want something badly enough to face a leviathan of obnoxious computers to get it? The more in need a person is, the more obnoxious the bot-wall they'll have to scale to satisfy it. 

Michael Thomsen is's tech columnist. He has written for Slate, The Atlantic, The New Inquiry, n+1, Billboard, and is author of Levitate the Primate: Handjobs, Internet Dating, and Other Issues for Men. He tweets often at @mike_thomsen.

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