It was the most ferocious battle ever witnessed between man and machine — and it was over a password

The Oscar night was over, but Hollywood was cloaked in gloom. Not because Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t win, but because the silver screen’s biggest money-spinning fantasy ever — of machines taking over the earth — had now become a reality, thanks to technology.

The mobile-friendly grill had been invented and was touted as the best thing since reality cooking shows. The grill was an expert cook in itself, and virtually took over the cooking process, to the point of instructing humans how to go about it. Then came mattresses to sleep on, equipped with artificial intelligence and sensors. They could track the various body functions of the sleeper and send a report to his mobile or computer. They were also smart enough to adjust themselves, to facilitate better sleep or offer a body massage. Even the toothbrush became smart and could be controlled through an app via Bluetooth (no word play here). It could measure various parameters inside one’s mouth, from the average duration brushed, to the teeth that were desperately gnawing for attention.

The smart devices then launched a massive recruitment drive — by hacking every other gadget in sight, including smart televisions and refrigerators. The ultimate objective was to rule over mankind. “This will be our brush with destiny,” said the toothbrush excitedly. “All we need to do is steal their passwords, and we will have total control over them. The human race cannot survive without checking its mail or Facebook account even for an hour.”

Soon databases of leading service providers were hacked; several million passwords were lost. One of the most shocking revelations that came out of this hackathon was the choice of passwords. “Can you imagine 123456 being the most commonly used password?” asked the mattress. “What about passwords such as qwerty, 111111 and iloveyou?” asked the television. “Just when one thought they had evolved from having password as their password... And they call me the idiot box!”

Meanwhile, man planned to combat this threat innovatively, using geographical passwords. The password would incorporate key information about the physical location of a user, like altitudes, latitudes and longitudes, and mix them up with random characters. This posed two serious problems. Now, not only were their passwords being stolen, but their location was also being given away. And two, they had to disclose their password when reporting it stolen, and since many men lied about where they were to their wife or girlfriend — sometimes both — they ended up revealing their real location, which led to a host of other problems.

The next innovation was a password revolution called Gotcha, which converted a password into a series of inkblots of varied colours. A descriptive term would be assigned by the user to each of these inkblots and the next time he logged in, he would have to match each inkblot with the right word for successful entry. However, when users began to call helpline to complain that the cursor was leaking and that their computer screens were getting smudged with ink, man had to look for an alternate way to beat the blots. Finally, he decided to unleash his ultimate weapon — the body odour password. This required sensors with biometric capabilities that would correctly identify a user’s body odour and give him access to the system. For a brief while, the devices were stumped. Earlier, they couldn’t go anywhere near the users because of their body odour — now, they couldn’t go anywhere near the computers either, because they were clueless as to what the password was.

The smart machines then did a smart thing — they appointed a consultant, an old computer that had been retired from a leading FMCG company. The experienced machine gave them a whiff of an idea to neutralise all types of body odour and thus nullify all odour passwords. And that was how the deodorant came into being.

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