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Do machines understand Humans ?!


I was in Tunisia to give two workshops (UX design and Mobile HTML5) for the TNWebDays - live coding sessions, use cases and whatnot.

Basically, my laptop (Macbook Pro) was crucial for this mission.

But, like any machine that has got some self esteem, it crashed as I was about to wrap up the presentations. That crash is vastly known in the Apple community as "White screen of death". And quickly recoverable by resetting the PRAM by pressing Command+Option+P+R.


Anyhow - as always, I kept calm. And asked a tunisian friend to borrow his machine for the next day to improvise a presentation.

But it didn't make sense. Why would a machine crash for no apparent reason ? But mostly, why wasn't the keyboard responding when resetting the PRAM ? Basically, the thing was fried.

I went for a walk, came back, prayed the problem would fix itself. Nothing.

I slept. The next day, powered up the machine, still nothing.

Went to get breakfast, and came back to my room. Opened the lid, and asked gently (mostly, with emotion):

Dear Mac, you helped me when I most needed it. You were there to inspire me when I lacked it. Please don't fuck me up, and power up. Even for two hours until I finish my talks.

Then pressed the power button.

And what do you know ... It worked.

I freaked out for a bit - but, then I realised, that sometimes machine behaviour can be random. Or is it ?

Do machines really understand us ? or is it our emotion ? or is it just plain random ?!!

The real question, essentially, could we build machines can can communicate with us on a higher level ? I'm not talking about terminator-like stuff; just machines that share a common ground with humans ...

Side note : Funny thing is, I was introducing UX by talking about how the Windows "Blue Screen of Death" doesn't offer a user experience, sometimes, even for experimented users. In retrospective, the BSoD at least does offer some hexadecimal gibberish (and mostly, heart beat signal) thing that the WSoD does not.