Gregory V. Boulware

“Sorry…we cannot sell or pump gas at this time.” “The computers are down”, “we can’t get anything to work.” “Can you come back later?”

Haven’t we all, at one time or another, experienced waiting in line at retail, wholesale, and/or any given checkout counter where everything stops when the computers fail? Didn’t you wish the operators of these devices could use a (for those who can remember) portable calculator, abacus, or something that will get the line moving and allow you to leave with your purchase? How about using a plain ole pencil and paper?

“Sorry…We can’t write you a receipt, the computer knows all of the prices and keeps inventory as well as who I am, the date, time, transaction number, my station number, and the store location number.” We are at the mercy and dependence of computers and machines that do all and most of what we used to do, as well as the things that we don’t do.

While perusing through some tech articles, mags, and reports of several major tech info media, I came across an advertisement that I could not ignore. It depicted a giant or larger than man-sized robot. This robot was seated like the statue of “The Thinking Man”; one of Auguste Rodin’s most famous sculptures, the “Thinker Statue.” The Thinker was part of a commission by the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris to sculpt a monumental door based on The Divine Comedy of Dante (Dante’s Inferno). The image of the robot was an advertisement for anti-virus software protection. Remember the “Good Book?” Remember the first book of “Moses”, (the “King James Version”) called “GENESIS”, chp.1, para.26; “and GOD said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

The image of the robot was man-like. Albeit, the image appeared to personify a particular type of person or a particular race of human being; should it have? The robot had blue eyes; a pointed elongated nose, a broad and deep eye-socketed brow, and the physical characteristics of a long and lean structure. The similarities were unmistakably that of the European Caucasian male. I wondered why. The word power entered my mind; “Let us make things in our image, after our likeness.”

ESET NOD32 Antivirus’ advertisement reminded me of a story written by Isaac Asimov. The anti-virus caption stated “we’ve been told only the most knowledgeable IT managers have heard of us”. Mr. Asomov’s story, “I ROBOT”, is probably recently known by the 2004, movie by 20th Century Fox. The story was also depicted in the 1960’s TV series “The Twilight Zone”, created and narrated by Mr. Rod Serling. Albeit, the TV show starred several “persons of color” This practice is not out of the norm for many moviemakers. Some believe that people of color either weren’t thought of or the existence is or will be non-existent. Why is that? The perceived non-contribution to science and the world economy by people of color is questionable as well. i.e., the movie “Logan’s’ Run.”

Many robot images in science fiction stories and movies are depicted with expressionless, non-human-like features; even though many of them are crafted with eyes and mouths. It could be assumed the representation of eyes, ears, and mouths are a comfort-zone interface designed to allow human beings the benefit of comradery with these service-provider machines. But why is it
we characterize or model the seemingly most intelligent-looking centralized robot appear to be copied after the image of one particular race of people? Is it the intention to “create in the image of its creator?” Was it not the Asian Scientists that created, produced, and perfected the first humanoid robot? Was it not recorded as such? Do you ever wonder, which came first, the chicken or the egg?

What would you do or how have you reacted when you realized that you’d left your cell-phone at home; or worse, you’ve lost it? How about the crashing of your computer? Your TV doesn’t work because the computer component of something or other on its’ motherboard went capluwie? Oh no! The cable-TV system is down! The computerized micro-wave stopped working, the computerized washing machine and dryer stopped working, the computerized automobile stopped working, the computerized radio isn’t working and you can’t get the news, the MAC machine doesn’t work and you can’t access your funds for cash purposes and/or transactions, the telephone doesn’t work, the lights and heat stopped working, and what ever else relies on computer controlled operations or power?

Have you ever seen “The Forbin Project?” It’s a movie where a master computer and its on-line rival compute and eventually control the future and demise of mankind. And heaven-forbid that we lose the Internet! What would you do? How do we function? Do we go back to the old fashioned, simpler way of life? Are we willing to barter or trade? Are we willing to re-learn to use paper and pen, the abacus (how many of us know how to use it?), and/or are we ready willing and able to utilize our financial reports by way of the hand-written ledger again?

The next time that you’re standing in line awaiting purchase checkout; with all of the devices, instruments, and all of the technological tools at our disposure, remember, we will still face the inevitable confrontation of “Sorry…we cannot sell or pump gas at this time.” “The computers are down, we can’t get anything to work.” “Can you come back later?”

Til Next Time…