from The San Diego AA Coordinator, July 2020
Being on the outs with my sponsor, “why don’t you write about that” Gene, and having time on my hands due to the COVID-19 shutdown, I allowed my mind to wander into the realm of fancy.
It is true that coping with the current situation has forced Alcoholics Anonymous to advance technologically much faster than what normally would have been expected. I thought that perhaps, through that technology, I might be able to resolve my sponsorship problem.
Would it be possible, using the miracle of artificial intelligence, to create a virtual sponsor? I decided to give it a try using my Amazon Echo and its spokesperson, the lovely Alexa. After all that gal is pretty damn smart! In an instant she can tell me who was the National League leader in hits in 1987 (T. Gwynn – 213), find and play an obscure oldie – Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran – 1958), and calculate the square root of 537 (23.173…). Old Gene couldn’t do any of that!
Perhaps, given enough basic information, she could come up with sponsor-like advice for me. To begin, I read the first 164 pages of the Big Book into her database. Certainly not everything, but the nuts and bolts of our program are contained in that text.
Here I encountered my first problem. I have always been told that I should seek a sponsor of the same sex. That, and the fact that while Alexa’s flinty feminine tones were fine for giving me the quickest route to Costco, I needed a more authoritarian voice to guide me down the path to serenity.
Thus, I renamed the device Alex and added the voice of James Earl Jones to the database by playing a recording of him reading the New Testament. Worked like a charm!
Now for a test! Frustrated by my girlfriend Barbara’s reluctance to advance our relationship, she didn’t seem to want what I had! I turned to Alex for advice on the situation. In what seemed like a microsecond he advised me to turn to page 96 and start reading. This is what I found, “Do not be discouraged if your prospect does not seem to respond at once. Search out another alcoholic and try again. You are sure to find someone desperate enough to accept with eagerness what you offer.” Perfect! At last a sponsor I can work with.
Overjoyed that I had found the dream sponsor, I looked forward to seeking his advice again.
Unfortunately, soon after this, we experienced an electrical storm in the area which fried some sensitive equipment. Luckily Alex still responded when I asked about a problem regarding a needed amend. This time I was a bit puzzled when told to read page 89, “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail.”
As a test I asked him another question entirely unrelated to the first and got exactly the same advice!
Since that time no matter what he is asked, he responds with page 89. Could it be that my new sponsor is broken? Or could this advice always apply? Needing some human interaction, I sharpened some pencils and called Gene.