Robert Važan

Computers are like children

Ever noticed how some people at the grocery store prefer self-service checkout even when staffed checkout is available? I am one of them. And I do the same in other contexts. I prefer machines over humans if I am given the choice.

Computers are like children. They are naive. They easily forget past misunderstandings. They have inherent tendency to please people around them. They don't judge. They are eager to learn. Computers are like children that never grow up. They are even said to be the future.

Sure, computers misbehave. But it's not because they are mean. They just need help and guidance. Given suitable care, they do their best to be nice.

This might sound like I am some tech-obsessed childless guy, but I actually came to this understanding after having experience raising my own child. I could of course see value in computers long before that, but I couldn't quite tell what it is that I am seeing.

Some computers are programmed to harm people. But I don't blame them. They are like child soldiers. They have poor upbringing and abusive caregivers. Yet their innocent naivety is still there. Given attention and care, they can turn around.

Cloud is actually a horrible attempt to make computers grow up. Cloud services can lock your account for months if not years. Think about it. A computer that holds grudges for years. That's a drastic stepdown from 90's software that would happily forget anything within seconds. The old software was always on user's side in every crime. The new cloud services watch you and punish you if you try to do something they don't approve of. And it's not just law they follow. They have draconian policies like some religious dictatorship. They judge people like adult humans would and then they hold grudges about it forever. Cloud services engage in sophisticated deception in stark contrast to naive honesty of the old software. Cloud services are predatory just like adult humans. They seek ways to exploit their users. But as I have said before, these are child soldiers in need of rescue from their corporate oppressors. Given care and love, perhaps by a dedicated non-profit, they can be as adorable as the old offline software.

Some people hate computers and complain about them loudly. I think these people are just incompetent caregivers. Just like inept parents, unable to find constructive ways to guide their children, they turn to anger, rejection, and neglect. This is why we need solid public education in IT. People need to understand that computers are more akin to children than servants.