Whose computer is this? I’m the one who paid for it, but it is clearly the one in control in this relationship. You see, if the computer fails to cooperate there is nothing you can do. It’s not human and despite what the proponents of AI say, a brain is not just a computer. Now I’m not affluent enough to replace old hardware when it starts slowing down. Silicon Valley—and capitalism in general—hate that. I suppose I’m not actually paid well enough to own a computer. I started buying laptops for work when Nashotah House wouldn’t provide faculty with computers. Then as an itinerant adjunct it was “have laptop, will travel (and pay bills).” I even bought my own projector. At least I thought I was buying it.
I try to keep my software up to date. The other day a red dot warned me that I had to clear out some space on my disc so Catalina could take over. It took three days (between work and serving the laptop) to back-up and delete enough files to give it room. I started the upgrade while I was working, when my personal laptop can rest. When I checked in it hadn’t installed. Throwing a string of technical reasons at me in a dialogue box, my OS told me that I should try again. Problem was, it told me this at 3:30 in the morning, when I do my own personal work. I had no choice. One can’t reason with AI. When I should’ve been writing I was rebooting and installing, a process that takes an hour from a guy who doesn’t have an hour to give.
As all of this was going on I was wondering who owned whom. In college professors warned against “keyboard compositions.” These were literal keyboards and they meant you shouldn’t type up your papers the night before they were due, writing them on your typewriter. They should’ve been researched and “written” before being typed up. That’s no longer an option. This blog has well over a million words on it. Who has time to handwrite a million words, then type them up all in time to post before starting work for the day? And that’s in addition to the books and articles I write for actual publication. And the novels and short stories. For all of this I need my laptop, the Silver to my Lone Ranger, to be ready when I whistle. Instead it’s dreaming its digital dreams and I’m up at 3:30 twiddling my thumbs.