This comic from xkcd may not register a laugh, but I’ve always found it amusing. I love computer technology and the things that we can create with it. One thing that I see over and over again in computers, is that they are extremely vulnerable, and that vulnerability is also what makes them so powerful and interesting.
From low level programming, to Internet security and even simple maintenance, computers are slowly assuming a strong relationship with us. The more we need them, the more they need us. In its most climactic moment, which has been dubbed The Singularity by some, humans and their technology will become inseparable, and possibly truly symbiotic. While it may be a long time before we see cyborgs, it does raise an interesting point.
Why do some people dislike and possibly avoid computers? There are a myriad of answers, but I’ve found that for most, it is because they fail to understand them. Some consider a computer a wretched tool or machine, impenetrable to human reason and “normal” procedure. Other see them as flimsy, constantly broken hulls, that suck money and time away from our lives. Both fail to view a computer’s vulnerability in the same way that we view other people’s vulnerabilities.
Like the comic above, I’ve found it an incredible help to think of a computer the same way one would think of a friend or a pet. It needs proper care, attention, and love to function as it should. And just like a bad dog or a grumpy friend, it can act quite unpredictably if neglected. To understand a computer is to understand its vulnerability, and embrace it the same way you accept your friends for who they are, or love your cat even when he poops outside the litter box.
My aim throughout this semester is to present computer technology in a way that anyone can understand and relate to. If more people can learn to appreciate and care for their devices, The Singularity may not be as painful as some may believe.
And seriously, check your pointers. That stuff can wreak havoc with your life.