Friday, January 23, 2015

That feeling when humans lose to machines

Life from 5 years to roughly about 23-25 years are tough on Earth, especially in competitive places like India. The target audience are kids turned to teens and later to adults. You are required to study, study and study till your grades improve (exam on exam and relative improvement compared to your batch-mates). Post 10th starts another bottleneck competition to fetch the best seats in top colleges. The cycle of “study-study-score-secure another seat” continues for 2 more years and you reach the first genuine crossroad of your life. What to do after 12th? The preferred fields are Medicine and some take Engineering (although this preference is diminishing every year). 

Once you have decided the future course of action, another cycle starts till you finish your graduation and starts searching for a job. Now assume you got your job (dream or not – immaterial in this case). You join a company, meet your team, your bosses and learn about what (all) you are supposed to do. Irrespective of what your job profile is, you will have to do something that is mandatory. The document you are viewing needs to be viewed again while you are travelling. Assuming you don’t have a smart device, you will inevitably click on File >> Print >> Print or for the tech geeks out there – “Ctrl+P”. You walk towards the printer to collect your printed document and… wait. Wait again. Still wait. Why is the printer not responding? The diagnostic side of you wants to check the buttons on the printer, maybe there’s a start button somewhere. Bingo! There is. You press the button. No response again. You repeatedly press the start button illogically hoping that pressing continuously will make the printer realize that the user is frustrated and it better get started. But that’s not how the machine is configured.

That’s when it hits you badly. All that study, all the sleepless nights you took to study stuffs, some of which you didn’t like is of no use. All those mathematical formulae, geometry, trigonometry, Mechanics, Engineering Drawing, Mobile technology, Radar and Satellites, nano-technology aren’t equipped to help you solve this straight-forward problem. The medical folks, you went through hell by studying Anatomy, different systems in human body, dissecting animals and human bodies to learn the working and structure and don’t even get me started on nervous systems! But those things won’t come to your aid to solve this, will they?

Printer joke image Do you even know what it means to have a financial statement with numbers full of red?

But you can’t look like a fool now. You are a graduate after all. They say trials bring out the best in you. So, you first start looking to your left and right – not for help initially, but to see if anyone’s watching your misery. No one. So, it’s not worse than you think. You take a close look at the printer, just to check if you are missing something. The chord is connected. The printer is switched on. The maker’s logo is flashing on the small screen. Basic checks done. You look at the buttons they have on offer. You then try fiddling with the buttons, try tweaking the settings and then press start again. No response. To emphasize your frustration, you repeatedly press start again.

Now comes the “seeking help” phase. You start looking for friends / colleagues you know. Then someone walks by. You immediately look up to him as your Good Samaritan and ask him for his help. He smiles (not sure if he was smiling ‘at’ you or was that just a courtesy smile), looks at the printer, presses the start button (as if you haven’t done that already). He thinks for few seconds with a twisted expression on his face suggesting he is deep in thought and then says something that makes you feel so little that the solitary ant you saw near the printer suddenly looks like a giant Elephant ready to trample you under his feet. You sheepishly follow the advice and then the much-awaited printout comes out. You wonder how did you miss that basic electronic solution?

The advice – Restart the printer and check again! 


  1. Binu, we do that, I mean press the button as if it will understand our frustration and act.

    We study but only life teaches us such valuable lessons.

    1. Thats right Saru.. Only if the button senses the pressure and reacts accordingly..

  2. LOL... Good 1!

    Wish it were just as easy to press the restart button in life too... Then again, maybe the restart button would be so overused that it would stop functioning...

    1. Ohh yes, thank God for no restart button.. Life is interesting this way Vishal..


All yours..

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