Monday, May 14, 2012

The other day I decided to cut the grass. Actually, the decision was forced upon me. Bright sun as opposed to the rain of previous days gave me no excuse and the tall grass that resulted from those rain-filled days an urgent need. Actually, I don’t mind grass that’s a bit taller than it “should” be but other people do and, since I live in rental property, I feel an obligation to comply with custom. Anyway, my intentions were good. But the mower wouldn’t cooperate. It refused to start. I struggled with it for a while and finally gave up. My next door neighbor is really handy with things mechanical so I enlisted his aid. He checked the oil and the gas—basic routine—said, “Stand back,” gave a good hard pull on the starter rope and—the mower started at first pull. “How’d you do that?” I asked. “I dunno,” he answered.

Which brings me to the main idea of this piece: I am coming to believe that machines have minds of their own and that each possesses a will and an ego, some a penchant for belligerence or mischief and some a sense of humor. In other words, they exhibit human traits. Nonsense, you say. Why? I answer. Animals do. But, you say, animals have some intelligence and therefore could be expected to have emotions, basic and rudimentary as they might be. Ah, there’s where modern quantum physics comes into play. Evidence has come to light that there is intelligence in electrons. If electrons are intelligent and everything is made up of electrons then it must be that there is intelligence in everything.

And so it falls to reason that there must be intelligence in machines. This explains a lot. It is the reason I am subject to rebellious behavior from my lawn mower, from fits of temper from my weed whacker, why my car is so reluctant to start on cold mornings, why my computer and printer are able to drive me crazy. Machines are endowed with intelligence and are thus capable of fiendish behavior, just like humans. The final proof of all of this is the ultimate in skullduggery—the machines have kept this fact a secret from us so far. But I have uncovered their monstrous plan. It is now my task to counter their wretched activity and further the progress of man. How I will do that I’m not sure yet. But I’ll find a way. I’m a human being. I can be just as devious as any machine.

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