Computers and I

by Lise on Friday, 28 November 2008 Comments
For more than fifteen years I have been repairing computers. I first started by learning how to take care of hardware. Later on, I turned on studying and fixing software. It is a bit as if I had first studied external medicine, taking care of bones, blood vessels or muscles injuries, before shifting to neurology and psychiatry, trying to understand what is happening in someone’s mind and how to help him or her overcome mental problems.

Indeed, the more I am working with computers, the more they look like humans to me. As humans are prone to develop a variety of illnesses - illnesses that are often interrelated, evolving and recurrent -, computers suffer from affections that you understand more and more and feel increasingly able to cure when you develop a quite of empathy with the body that you are caring for. Or, maybe, should I say that I am sort of a veterinarian? I feel the pulse of the little animal in front of me, I understand that it is not only a bunch of flesh but that it has suffered traumas and former illnesses that affect his overall health, I go from the physical to the mental – and I am working my way towards an acceptable solution, a solution that maybe will not restore the computer to full health but will allow it to continue its services. When giving it back to the owner, I can already guess what will be the next problem, and prepare myself to tackle it….

Actually, I have become so accustomed to computers, I have developed so much empathy towards them that, when I open one of them for looking at what is happening inside, I have the feeling that my brain has actually entered into the computer. This is how I feel able to “see” what the problem is, and to find a way to fix it. Conversely, when I have closed the computer I sense that the brain of the computer has entered my own brain. I was he, and now he is me!

Do take all this with a grain of salt: I am perfectly able to make the difference between a computer and a human… But going from the computer world to the human one actually helps me to better understand the two of them. Using human metaphors for describing computer’s problems helps me to repair computer not by mere logic but through intuition. And describing the ills that human persons and society suffer today by making use of the experience I have accumulated through my long observation of computers’ psyche helps me to understand in my own way what is not working around us and how we might try to fix it.

We used to better understand who we are by comparing ourselves to animals, finding out similarities and differences. This remains true. But, when we take humans, animals and computers as an interrelated whole we become even more able to fully understand what allows humans of being humans, animals of being animals, and computers of being computers – not only by looking at their dissimilarities but also at the qualities, shortcoming and illnesses that they share…. And after all, when we think about it, we have developed such an intimacy with computers that it is no wonder that they are progressively becoming more like us, and us like them!...

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