Sometimes my computer surprises me. You might think these surprises involve it's capability to translate the movement of my fingers into visible text on the screen in real time. Or perhaps I should be overwhelmed at the speed the text is transmitted across the world to my brother in Ethiopia as we kill time instant messaging. But no, I grew accustomed to these things long ago. Now I take them for granted. But when the text on the screen lags behind my fingers dancing on the keyboard, or my brother's internet connection is too weak to support a video chat leading us to resort to the ancient method of regular instant messaging, I am astonished. The astonishment inevitably spins into annoyance and then anger. Rarely do I realize the absurdity of my complaints. That a computer - a box of wires connecting circuits and some other stuff that I can't explain - should fail on occasion to accurately parse one command of the thousands its computing each second is somehow regarded by me as anomalous. 99.99% accuracy is unacceptable. The box must be perfect.
Have you considered that we are more forgiving of people than computers, even though relationships with people won't be necessary if the boxes continue their indefensible encroachment into every corner of human life?
I just got off the phone with my friend and co-worker Suzanne. Phone conversations with Suzanne are often interrupted by silence. The screen on her phone is supposed to be disabled when the phone is pressed to her ear. But before the phone belonged to her it was mine and when it was in my possession I dropped it, shattering the screen and necessitating a replacement. The repairman, who will remain anonymous but was once the owner of the phone, made a mistake during the rebuild and failed to connect one of the above-mentioned wires. So when Suzanne is talking to the repairman, who now has a new phone that works wonderfully, and her cheek accidentally grazes the mute button causing her voice to disappear for a moment, it is not the repairman she blames with an indistinguishable grunt and snarl, but the phone. She forgave me long ago and has now forgotten its my fault.
Did you notice that Google searches containing a misspelled word now adjust automatically to offer the expected results? Our expectations for technology, it seems, now demand that the circuit boards connected by wires not only remain perfect but also know when we are not. Can you think of some other nameless, omnipresent, and eternal being that also resides, like Google, in the clouds from which we expect the same?