R sold mortgages, life insurance and, for a short time, real estate. None of this excited him very much. “Too much paperwork,” he grumbled. His life changed when he purchased one of those curiosities that appealed to those adept with a soldering iron and the ability to understand the invisible mechanics of it all. He purchased a personal computer. This was the time when the word ‘computer’ still conjured up images of rooms filled with vacuum tubes and workers in lab coats. R quickly realized that he had a knack for setting up and repairing these new curiosities. When small businesses began to realize that these machines could be adapted to their needs, R’s knack became a valuable skill, so he did what his faith compelled him to do. He started his own business. And life was good. Until it wasn’t.
It is easy to believe that machines can do no harm, especially ones that think using only ones and zeroes. Perhaps it’s this simplicity that makes these calculating machines so calculating. Most who embrace them are destroyed by them. R’s once thriving business shrank just as his family was growing more children. His skills shrank in value as teenagers proved able to do many things that he could do and at very low prices. Eventually large stores got into the business of computer repair and maintenance, charging for a year’s coverage what R had once charged for an hour of his time and expertise.
R still believes that the machine will set him free, if only he can figure out how to tame it.