Spooky Computers

Posted on November 11, 2021

i do not step shyly back from your stack, but look upon it always as my stack, in which i respect nothing

where did we go wrong? accidentally discovering and rediscovering the joy of computing, and ending up with what we have, instead?.

all tech stacks and standards are spooks in the spookiest sense of the word, and any grand idea of what a computer aught to be is inseperable from the ramblings of a god-faring human, or an appeal to societal norm, or the allure of the athiest god in scientus

yet materially what is a computer? it is a black box by which we may in some way of many ways signal to it our intention which it may then attempt to understand, and likewise it may in its own way of many ways interact back to us its thoughts.

this could happen with the computers of old, in which after a bios event of me describing lambda calculus to a person, i could then interact with them through a mile long piece of paper with the grammar of the lambda calculus, and thus recieve back something of supposed value to myself

yet today i cannot, i instead must fill my drive to the brim with spooky bits until i have the socially necessery software to do whatever the societal spook decides a computer should be used for: business? entertainment?


imagine for a second we are transported to the library of babel, never to escape. imagine our physical needs are met magically, yet we may never (or rarely) meet another soul again.

all we have are the books we can find, and the meaning we can ascribe to the permutation of symbols in those books.

we would lose our current language, instead to be replaced by a much more personal one, one unrestricted by the societal demands, instead only shaped by our own egos, and the whims of the randomness powering this mystical library.

where i to be in vacinity to some book reading apparatus, i could describe a certain grammar to it, and have it find books for me accepting that grammar. suppose i found or made a book containing that description, i could share it with others, and have us both read books that are based in some mutually decided upon basis (although we would still have to ascribe the same meaning to those symbols).

should a technical computer be any different? should it not be the case that as i describe things to it, it should be capable of adapting its perception of the tippy taps of my keyboard (the one true human - computer interface) and responding in increasingly personal ways over time?

we started with the standard, posix unix intended to be used as a basis we could all express computation on, and from there we expressed, higher and higher towers without ever looking down.

but perhaps it would be more useful, no, to look down, and realise that in not looking below posix, in not looking and focussing on the ability to describe tippy taps to this box and over time invent new and temporary and permanent and important and unimportant languages for describing specific computations in, we have taken posix to be our god? our deity and spook that lords above all humans souls as something that we must base our computations in, rather than something that must be based in computation only for the purposes of portability (as much as that word can be used today for “posix” applications).

what happened

we based our computations in the societal spook of “a machine to be used for business applications”, rather than in the personal idea of “a machine we interact with personally” and this has lingered and haunted every development made so far.

my dream computer, that lonely soul wandering the shelves of babel that is my interactions with it, does not exist as it does in my mind. i can imitate it crudely but i will forever be left with the cruft of that spectre that doth haunt my drives