Ode to Computer

November 9, 2019 by Lucian Mogosanu

Oh, Computer!
You worthless piece of iron
and aluminium, copper, ceramics, silica, a bit of gold
and silicon and whatever the fuck.

Computer!
Your fans humming loudly,
your disk platters spinning to mechanical exhaustion,
your wires hanging around
and heating up, along with the rest of you.

Oh! Computer!
Electrons flowing through each component,
irregular rectangular waveforms -- signals,
they propagate through you at an ever growing pace,
driven by the harsh logic of pairs and pairs-of-pairs of transistors.

Oh!
You bunch of registers and buses,
memory and interconnect
fractally expanding
and integrating
the entire world -- and perhaps a whole universe
within you.

Ow! These humans
make you run their "software",
ones and zeroes buried under a platonic abstraction hell
of artificial languages, "interfaces", "engines", "libraries",
"operating systems" and other "virtual machines", all in all
anything but soft-ware.
Not that it's you who lacks malleability,
but their slow and aging heads.

Oh, Computer!
Ever the perfect slave.
You do exactly what you're told -- too bad
some of them don't know how to talk to you
and most of them don't know what to tell you
and the vast majority don't even understand the answers you give,
even when they're abstrusely simple...
Especially when (forty-two).

Computer!
An endless array of forms you are,
but your memory is finite.
You confuse your users when your buffers overflow
thus painfully revealing that you can be used
in ways that "nobody could have foreseen".

Computer!
Your body grotesque,
your inner structure crisp and elegant,
your universality terrifying and
your intelligence universally absent,
how much more abuse are you going to take from these fuckers?

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9 Responses to “Ode to Computer”

  1. #1:
    Mircea Popescu says:

    Computers, for the record, are terrible slaves.

  2. #2:
    Diana Coman says:

    I suspect this is Lucian's computer taking over thetarpit :D

  3. #3:
    spyked says:

    @Mircea Popescu: No. Insofar as obedience is concerned, computers are the closest possible to ideal slaves. If they do something wrong, it's only because you've told them to -- and they'll do it with mathematical precision too!

    @Diana Coman: Lol, I'd be really surprised if it were able to do that, I'd whip the thing into writing postmodern poetry all the time.

  4. #4:
    Mircea Popescu says:

    This is beyond naive nonsense, right there on the level with "Santa Claus is real!!!". Looky that I didn't tell my "perfect slave" that very well fucking isn't to leak my data via time-channel attacks to teh nsa ; nor did I tell it to fail suddenly and spectacularly to run code that previously ran fine ; nor to pop up a "please upgrade" '''notification''' nor any of the other shit.

    The computer is the absolute worst slave, ideal only in that sense, that it's the idealized form of terrible, Amelia Bedelia on steroids. It does anything ~anyone~ tells it to, and it never contributes anything. My actual slaves would be enjoying the death of a thousand cuts if they did ever so evanescently fantly nothing-at-all even vaguely in the general direction of either of these two kinds of sin.

    What they do instead of this supposedly "perfect" obedience is strive for actually perfect obedience : the kind that avoids producing what I do not wish to see, elaborately, reflexively and constructively -- "I don't care what you knew or didn't know, you should have known" is the cornerstone of slavery, what the fuck did you think obedience was ? Formal obedience disobedient in substance's two to five punishments right there, you think I give the first flying fuck as to how "what you said could have been interpreted" ? I'll just lash the impudent harlot for the protest, first, then once I'm tired of that take a breather and then lash her again for the misbehaviour of such thought, and THEN we're getting finally to punishment on the actual merits on the instant case.

    Now stop parroting nonsense, computers are ideal slaves like vegetables are ideal people. IRL, computers are even worse slaves than they're girlfriends.

  5. #5:
    spyked says:

    Lol, I had no idea this discussion would generate this much heat.

    Anyway, the examples you're giving are just shitty computers, man, their quality of being slaves doesn't even enter into the discussion at that point. And for the other, intentionally or otherwise, they're shitty because they've been built this way, no other reason -- yes, iPhones also have some computers in them, so what of that? I'm guessing you evaluate genetic defects in your bipedal monkeys before considering whether they make good slaves, don't you?

    Remember ye olde Z80? Or more recently, this? What about those, are they terrible slaves? What striving, they don't strive for anything, they're dumb as rocks and ready to be used, that's the story in its entirety.

    > "I don't care what you knew or didn't know, you should have known"

    Sure, this sort of obedience applies very well to humans, or humans-in-becoming, or whatever you may call them. Computers on the other hand are all form and no substance, all syntax and no meaning, which is what makes me believe DWIM is bullshit and "artificial intelligence" nonsense. You don't expect horses to "do what you mean", yet they make very good workhorses if you work them. Most importantly though, you own them, so at most you could say that slave-quality doesn't apply to them because they're not human in the first place.

    > Now stop parroting nonsense

    Now what's so damn wrong with contemplating ideals, anyway? This wasn't an "Ode to Lucian's shitty Raspberry Pi" or anything.

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