Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Taking Direction

I'm about to celebrate my twentieth year of living in California, but I still have a tough time describing myself as a Californian. For instance, I still have a relatively difficult time describing the local geography. I live just down the road from San Leandro, on the way to San Francisco, but still a nice bit of a ride from San Jose. I do know the way to San Jose, but the GPS does come in handy when it comes to getting to the HP Pavilion.
Back in the olden days, we used to have dozens of maps stuffed into the pockets of the door and in the glove box depicting various chunks of the bay area and the West Coast. My brother-in-law once pointed out that all roads eventually connect, so if you keep driving, you're bound to find what you're looking for, unless you end up driving into the ocean. That's why the bossy lady who seems to know the best way to get from point A to point B is so very useful. We tell her where we want to go, and she commences to order us about: "Left turn ahead. In four tenths of a mile, turn right." And we trust her. Mostly because she has yet to let us down in any major way, but also because the other choice would be to stop and ask someone for directions. Would I rather put my faith in the disembodied electronic voice coming from my dashboard, or the guy walking out of the Seven-Eleven on your way to Bakersfield? The machine, of course.
And so this is the rub: Would I rather put my faith in a machine that got to this state in 2006, or access all that experience I've had in the past two decades? It's not a contest. I'm going to play the video game, the one that rewards me with bell when I reach my destination, and politely reminds me to nudge my left turn back to a couple of rights to get back on the predetermined route. In another twenty years, that content will be downloaded directly into my brain, and I'll feel at home wherever I go. For now, I'll do what I'm told.

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