Some of you may already know this, but, for those of you who don’t, I am currently enrolled in a computer science/STEM program at New York University. Aside from the knowledge I had gained since working for Mission Critical, I basically knew nothing about computers when I started the class. Sure, I can figure out how to do things on a computer, and, if you ask my dad, he would tell you that I am a technology sorcerer. But, I didn’t know how I was making things happen, I just wasn’t afraid to try.
The more I learn about computers, how they process language, and how they work, the more I think about humans, how they communicate, and how they behave.
As I am learning to write computer programs, yes, there are moments — or, shall I say, hours — of frustration. I cannot tell you how many times I have stared at my code wondering “Why the heck is this not working right? It just doesn’t make sense.” But, every time I figure it out, it makes complete sense.
You see, computers don’t assume things; they do what they’re told — exactly what they're told. If they don’t understand something, they let you know by way of an error message.
The truth is, it’s pretty much never the case that a computer program is not working right. The problem is almost always that it wasn’t written right. And, that’s because it was written by a human, and we’re simply not as detail-oriented as computers. We imply things, overlook things, confuse things, etc.
I’m not saying computers are perfect and we should all turn ourselves into robots. But, I have learned a lot about myself and how I communicate by learning about compilers and how they process data. And, that got me thinking about AI in general and the way people view it. I know people across the entire spectrum: the ones who think computers are taking over the world and want nothing to do with them as well as those who can’t imagine there was ever life without them.
To me, computers are like anything else: They can be used for good or bad. But, when it comes to the good, they really are fascinating.
It’s not easy to talk to people about topics they know nothing about, but we all find ways to do it. I encourage you all to share the wonderful world of technology with as many people as you can. There are interesting ways to do it. Think back to your first days in the industry and remember what spoke to you. Chances are, it was something relatable.
My class just started in January, so this is all still fresh to me. I am excited about what I’m learning, and I want to talk about it with my friends and family. So, I find ways to do it.
For example, I thought it was super cool to learn that each color is given a specific machine language code, so when you are opening an image file on your computer, what’s happening behind the scenes is the compiler is reading strings of numbers and spitting out the corresponding color for each pixel. And, videos are just a collection of images depicted in the same exact way. Since everyone I know looks at pictures and videos on their phones, this is an easy subject to bring up.
The labor shortage aside, let’s work together to spread awareness about computers, data centers, AI, and other technologies, so that people can start to better understand the world around them. Maybe we can even learn a thing or two from computers when it comes to communicating with each other and understanding how to arrange our words in such a way that they actually say what we mean.