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FleshFactor: Something has been bothering me...

A E C  F O R U M - "F L E S H F A C T O R"

I little while back I wrote about how our machines ignore us and how this
bothers me, and other people have told me the same.  I mean I take good
care of my machines and generally I get a very good, solid level of
performance from most of them for long, long periods of time.  I have all
these obsolete units that still work fine.  They eventually fall out of
favour and daily use and end up in a drawer or on a shelf collecting dust,
but they are still operable.  I guess I imagine they care about me because
they are reliable and they never give me any trouble.  Of course because I
want them to continue liking me I don't push them very hard.  I find that
I settle into a relationship with a machine, where we work together
efficiently, smoothly and effectively and I reach a point where I just
don't want to risk breaking the productive routine.  I tend to get
conservative or shall we say comfortable in our relationship.  But as much
as find comfort in projecting affection for myself in my inanimate
companions, I still crave something more satisfying when I touch the world
through my machines. 

In fact I'm looking around for a more responsive, more complicated,
challenging machine.  Most designers and engineers are preoccupied with
transparency, making the machines invisible, whereas I'm desiring strong,
prominent, more apparently unique machine features.  If an analogy is
necessary, I would rather have my machine resemble other species or things
than myself or other people.  The machine I'm looking for might resemble
an insect or a fish or it might be a fantastic climber, very agile and
powerful.  It would be great to be with and within a machine that could
introduce me to the world in different, more engagingly inhuman ways. 
Such a machine could also help me see myself and others in new ways.  I
want to hang around with a machine that rephrases everything, always
simply, clearly and often profoundly.  Like a good companion in day to day
conversation, a partnership for generating insights and the pleasure of
seeing the world fresh again and again. 

This machine should be bright, but bright in a different, complementary
way.  It should challenge me, but it should know the limits of my
adaptiveness.  When it gives me a hard time, it should know when to stop. 
And it would be nice if it would take occasional initiatives to please me. 

I wouldn't expect all this with the flick of a switch.  This kind of a
relationship with a machine would have to be constructed or earned.  I
would have to invest in this relationship, to share with the machine, to
earn the machine's respect and trust.  Maybe this won't ever be possible
with just any machine.  Maybe it will depend on something akin to

I think most of us would like better, more complicated relationships with
our machines.  As it is now, they all do their thing, sometimes very well,
often amazingly so.  But they ignore us. 

Tom Sherman  <twsherma@mailbox.syr.edu>

Moderator, FleshFactor Net-Symposium

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