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Rule-Based Robots

I have been surprised (and disappointed) by how subservient many people are to the lockdown, face diapers, etc. But the political angle of this has been talked about enough. There is a different perspective that might go a ways to explaining craven obedience.

Think back a few decades to when the digital clock became standard on most nightstands. I always disliked them, and wondered why people put up with them.

Circa 1970.

Then TVs acquired remote controls, with dozens of tiny buttons. Soon VCRs jumped on the bandwagon, and of course had their own remote control, so now you could wrestle with two of the damn things at the same time.

On and on it went: a PC (computer) on every office desk, and more and more people did office wussie work for a living, as America became post-industrial and bureaucratic.

Then you started doing your taxes on software such as TurboTax. In fact you did everything on the computer. It became strange to ever touch pen and paper.

But the reductio ad absurdum is the digitalization of the automobile. When you step into a rental car these days, your first thought is, "What am I supposed to do now?"  Driving used to be intuitive and fun.

The daily experience of wrestling with all this digital crap has acclimated the average person to following microscopic rules and proceduralism. You simply have to push the right button or click on the right box -- and a perfect sequence of these -- or you won't get the desired result. And you will tend to blame yourself for any problems, instead of blaming the System.

A population pre-conditioned to behave like this becomes a perfect herd of rule-following robots.


When our truck ended up in the shop in New Mexico after renting a car we had to get them how to use the electronics. We got a different car before we left the Agency. We like to think for ourselves.

It's about time.
Ed said…
Your posting reminded me of this meme.


WINDOWS: Please enter your new password.
USER: cabbage
WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must be more than 8 characters.
USER: boiled cabbage
WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain 1 numerical character.
USER: 1 boiled cabbage
WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot have blank spaces.
USER: 50damnboiledcabbages
WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain at least one upper case character.
USER: 50DAMNboiledcabbages
Windows: Sorry, the password cannot use more that one upper case charter consecutively.
USER: 50DamnBoiledCabbagesShovedUpYourAssIfYouDon'tGiveMeAccessNow!
Windows: Sorry, the password cannot contain punctuation.
User: ReallyPissedOff50DamnBoiledCabbagesShovedUpYourAssIfYouDon'tGiveMeAccessNow
Windows: Sorry, that password is already in use.
Anonymous said…
Maybe the herds of rules-following robots will stay healthier than those who don't.

XXXXX said…

Sounds like you missed your true calling. Why not get yourself a horse and a wagon and leave civilization all together? You can't take your car, phone, or laptop with you either or one might think you just enjoy talking out of both sides of your mouth.

This post wins the prize for lack of substance.

George, there was plenty of civilization in the analog world before the digital world came a long.
Before 1970 much of the March of Civilization (or Progress) had been analog, admirable, and manly.

Since 1970 most of our progress has been digital. Its mood is picayune and demeaning. It comes off as endless henpecking.
XXXXX said…


Anonymous said…
I know what the definition of "manly" is, but what does it have to do with the March of Civilization - in your way of application, especially as it relates to digital progress?

XXXXX said…

Chris, my thoughts exactly.