Be Your Own Meta-Programmer

by Sanjay Wellington

    computers aren't useful because they help us get more done and faster.
    that's a myth.  if it were true, wouldn't you feel like some portion of your day at work could be used as nap time or quake-playing time?  since, if you're getting so much done now that it like doubles your productivity, you should be able to take some time off, right?
    wrong, man.
    what really happens is that you're still compelled to sit waiting for things to happen, and frequently.  if the slogan for these graphical operating systems was "please wait", it would be a little more honest.   what i think the real benefit of computers is is this; at some level, the human brain performs like a set of cooperating automata.  i'm not trying to limit our beings to this little device, no, i'm just saying that the fact that we've created cybernetic technology means we're capable at some level of our brains (whether virtual or physical) of thinking like a computer.
    the productivity i was belittling is real in a different way; almost as soon as you can think of something to do on the computer, a few clicks later you can start that something percolating.  if it's an automated process, like printing out a document, you can start it and forget about it until it's ready to pick up.  if it's a more involved project, you can still start mapping it out incrementally using graphing, scheduling, development and other tools....
    now, compare that with going to the grocery store.  at the store, there's a huge delay between what you're trying to do and how quickly it gets done.  you can't accelerate your process much unless you map out the rows ahead of time and categorize your grocery list by the items you need, and possibly sprint through the store pushing other customers out of your way to acquire comestibles as efficiently and speedily as possible.  compared with starting these little thought-caterpillars chugging around through your computer, this is like playing golf using a fly swatter and a bowling ball.  or, wait, wait, it's like...  it's more like going parachuting with only a bag of dirty laundry, an awl and thick thread.  or maybe it's just like the difference between making a phone call to order a pizza versus running down to pizzamutt and hand-tossing it yourself.  but the point is clear....  it's time for pizza.
    on the computer, maybe you can start a new project or idea running, let's say, every 5 minutes or so.  there're always added delays due to formulating the next most important thing to do, and some tasks are long running and can't be completed with just that 5 minutes of your time.  but if you break up a project into separate threads of ideas, you can sequentially work on several different parts of them in bite sized chunks.  it could be like a game, where the next thought you complete is on a truly unbiased roulette wheel, or just play round robin with project ideas in a strictly hierarchical fashion if you must.
    that freaking computer is constantly engaging you to feed it new projects and bits of completed task pieces, except of course when it's churning like the washing machine.  at this point of course one should move to the next computer over and start feeding it your thoughts instead.  if you don't have enough computers to keep doing this without returning to the original churning computer that dissed you in the first place, then maybe you just don't have enough computers.  if you consider that you're ready to add a new task, but the computer can't keep up, then you realize that not all of your mental bandwidth is being utilized.
    so, computers benefit us by reflecting our own creativity and initiative back at us.  if you're moving in the direction of building consciousness, using a computer as an information router can accelerate your progress a great deal.  if you need a nap, it can also accelerate that goal.
    out on the internet, computers can completely zap your sense of time; suddenly, waiting an hour to see each frame on a tv screen makes a lot of sense, while having it take more than 10 seconds to write a letter to your friend in zimbabwe (and know that it was delivered to his mailbox) seems intolerable.  this is a sure sign that the mental clock is something that can be affected by computers, and once you have control of your clock, you can start ramping up those megahertz and hear the neurons crackle like bacon.

    does understanding how computers work help us to understand how some of our own mental processes work and perhaps maybe even allow us to reach deeper levels of the mind / brain / body machinery, maybe even allowing us to edit our genetic codes using nothing more than precise consciousness?
    stay tuned for an exploration of this in episode 2.