The Computers are Slow Today

The Computers are Slow Today

[We hear this all the time, that “the computers are slow today” or some iteration of that. But how many people really think about the root cause when computers today are faster than ever?]

By Kilgore Forelle

Nobody asked but …

How many times have you heard a bank teller, or an airline attendant, or a medical office person say “the computers are slow today,” like there is a cosmic miasma through which computers must swim to get their work done? Computers are quick, every day, same quickness, every day. When it appears that the computers are slow, and/or wrong, there is always a humanly wielded monkey-wrench somewhere in the works. Rarely, the human error was to allow a moth to be trapped in a switch. So other live creatures can be permitted to interdict in the computer’s normal deadly speed and consistency — still a human problem.

Computers cannot be slow today without externalities — 100% of human error, omission or commission. My blog before this addressed the problem of human error in the cases of Uber’s driverless car killing a cyclist and Three Mile Island’s killing an industry. Look for the humans. Look carefully for they will squirm mightily under the glare of scrutiny. They will claim that the computers were slow that day. Humans, however, must take the responsibility. Computers cannot assume responsibility because they are not free to do so.

Freedom entails responsibility, which entails the power to take responsibility. To say, “the computers are slow today” is a feckless dodge of responsibility. The speaker may be too low on the totem pole to do anything about it, which only means that the responsibility, and the power, and the freedom are higher up. If someone in the organization does not know where the trio lies, then the problem is in the organization … and the computers will likely be slow again tomorrow.

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