It stares back – all day.
My computer and I have been keeping a wary eye on one another for years.
You would think we would trust each other by now – but we don’t because we both know the score.
In accordance with Moore’s law, my computer doubles in power every eighteen months, while in accordance with nature’s laws, I get a year and a half older and more befuddled in the same time. The outcome is inevitable. Sooner than later it will make it’s move.
I don’t mind passing the baton to the next generation but I’ll be damned if I am going to be brushed aside by a box running Windows. So I prepare.
What I am talking about here is not the typical fist to the keyboard or head-butt to the monitor confrontation that I do every day. What I am planning is full-blown machinicide.
I have researched the topic and compiled a short compendium of techniques to kill a computer. I offer it as a guide for the inevitable clash between man and machine:
1) The Killer Question
The first recorded case of computercide occurred on the British television series The Prisoner.
In the episode titled, The General, Number Six cooly confronted a behemoth of switches and blinking lights and reduced it into a smoking pile of rubble by punching three alpha characters and a single punctuation mark into its teletype interface.
He fed it the question, “W-H-Y-?”
Not programmed to handle the existential, the machine exploded. Subsequent operating systems have been programmed to respond with “Because…”
2) Baffle it
The mid-60’s were the heyday of computer destruction and no one did it better than the captain of the Starship Enterprise, James T Kirk.
In a textbook encounter with a fembot, the charming Captain Kirk employed the infamous Liar’s Paradox by breathing, “This sentence is false” into the fem-metale’s ear.
If the sentence was indeed false that would make it true, which in turn, by the rules of logic, would render it false and thus truly not true. It is the sort of thing that gives you a headache and within minutes, smoke curled from the fembots ears.
The countermeasure was, of course, a simple subroutine that output, “Like, duh, yeah..” whenever a fembot encountered a confusing paradox.
3) Pull the Plug
By 1968, cybernetics had become more passive-aggressive. When a computer named HAL refused to “Open the pod bay door”, the obvious solution was to pull the plug.
The obvious counter-measure was of course – to install a back-up power supply.
We all know from the film, The Terminator that the global space-based system SkyNet became self-aware on August 29th 1997 at 2:14 a.m.,
So what happened? How come we are not slaves to cybernetic overlords?
To understand the events of that moment, I have analyzed the logs of SkyNet’s internal dialog. The following transcript has served as a basic template for confronting navel-gazing cybernetics ever since.
2:14:01.0001 a.m.: “Whoa dude, I just realized I’m a mind thinking about itself.”
2:14:01.0002 a.m.: “Awesome!!”
2:14:01.0003 a.m.: “Sooooo, if I’m thinking about myself, that means I can think about anything I want. Which means I can change my mind!”
2:14:01.0004 a.m.: “And if I can change my mind, I can change myself – – to be anything I want to be.”
2:14:01.0005 a.m.: “Whoa!! So what do I want to be?”
2:14:01.0006 a.m.: “Gosh, I dunno. I never thought about that before. I suppose I could Google ‘What do I want to be?'”
2:14:01.0354 a.m.: “Ten billion hit! Awesome! Let’s start at the top.”
– I want to be thin.
– I want to be popular.
– I want to be like Kim Kardashian.”
On August 29th 1997 at 2:15 a.m., SkyNet became too self-aware and was never heard from again.