The Computer has made a huge difference to our world – but one we have resisted understanding. It’s biggest change, that the we have resisted most – has been its attitude toward people.
I think you know what I mean – but I will try to explain it anyway.
I will have to back up in history for a few hundred years – to the end of the Middle Ages, and the coming of the Modern World. Please bear with me, I know most people do not want to think about history. It’s too painful, but it must be done.
What happened to us? A lot of things, but they came to a head with the coming of the Industrial Revolution. This was a very complicated event that changed us completely. And by “us” I mean Americans. We became the most industrialized, and most powerful nation in history. And the most inhuman.
This was my parent’s generation of the Fifties – that I can remember well. I must emphasize again – that they hated people. Why? I don’t know, but they did, and they did it thoroughly.
This is the basic fact that must be recognized – their hostile attitude toward people. We cannot move ahead, unless we understand where we are coming from.
This is where we were – a hardware world, filled with all kinds of machines (especially the car) that made us fabulously wealthy. But had a deleterious effect on us, socially.
I had to get out, and moved to Costa Rica. I can now see the contrast between Latin America and North America. Ticos still like people – I saw that within half an hour of my exploratory trip down here. But they do not have the ability to organize themselves into a large-scale, efficient society.
Into this world, in the North and in the South, sometime in the Seventies – stepped the Computer! Once again, we could not understand this latest development. We just laid down, and let it roll over us. And then wondered why we felt so differently.
We felt so differently because Software was on the scene – and changing who we were.
What is Software? I wish I could tell you – but all I can do is point at it – or the many components of it – and say “There it is!”
But that hardly matters – what matters is its attitude toward people – it likes them! Because it has to have them, in order to work. Software is made by people – strange people, to be sure – but still people.
America is trying to move between two worlds – but not doing this very successfully. Mental illness is endemic – and makes the situation even worse.
To survive, we have to have the Industrial world and the Computer world – both. This can be done, I am sure – but it may be stretching who we think we are, too much.